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Old 06-13-2019, 01:01 AM
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Rebuild the 3.8 or swap a v8

Hey guys, I have a 2008 Sahara 2 door. My 3.8 is burning a quart of oil every 1k miles, and the odometer reads about 130k. Currently running 285/70r17s with 3.73s. Also have a catback exhaust. The question is pretty straight forward. I am a college student though, so cost is key here. As for the 3.8, the RIPP headers look nice, and with a tune and some better than stock parts I'm sure I can get the rwt to over 200. But I dunno if it'll be worth the cost vs a v8 swap. The only problem I see with an LS swap is the tranny/transfer case, and that i live in Cali. She's a 6 speed manual and i'd like to keep it that way, but that limits my options. Also don't have the tools to DIY swap so I gotta pay a shop for it. This topic of swapping has been beaten to death but I kinda think it'd be neat to super build (N/A) a 3.8 and make it reliable. Thoughts?

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Old 06-13-2019, 08:42 AM   #2
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Cost wise a V8 swap is off the table. Either rebuild or a reman 3.8.

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Old 06-13-2019, 09:16 AM   #3
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Buying a remanufactured 3.8 and swapping it in is probably the most cost effective route in the long run. You can find a company selling them for under $2K plus shipping. There is a core charge but you'll get that back when you give them your old engine. With space to work, a good engine hoist, basic tools, and maybe a friend or two helping out you can swap the engine in a weekend yourself. A shop can get it done in a day or two. Figure maybe $1,500-2,000 for the shop to do the work (on top of the cost of the engine). And, of course, be prepared to pay for other things that you should replace while you're in there. A new clutch for sure. Hoses, belts, water pump, some gaskets, some exhaust pieces that should be replaced, etc. don't come with the remanufactured engine. They can add up to $1,000 or more when it's all said and done.

To save a little bit of money you can look into finding a junk yard engine. They are usually half the cost of a remanufactured engine or less but they come with some risk. You can get lucky and find one in good shape but you could also end up swapping in an engine that isn't a whole lot better than the one you take out.


Another option is rebuilding your engine. You'll have to pull the engine and take it to a machine shop. They tear it down and rebuild it and then give it back to you. This can be a little more expensive than the remanufactured engine and your Jeep will be down while the machine shop does the work. That can be several weeks or more. But you can have the machine shop do some upgrades like a non-stock cam and higher compression pistons, etc. So you can do a little to boost the performance while you're in there.


Swapping in a V8 is a minimum of $20,000 and that's if you do most of the work yourself. Having a shop do that custom work for you will easily tack on another $10,000 or more. Finding a swap candidate that uses a manual transmission will probably be more expensive on top of that because there's more custom work involved.


If I was on a college student budget without a shop to work in or tools to do the work, I'd shop around locally and find a mechanic who can swap the engine with a remanufactured one. Get it fixed and drive it. Once you're out of college and established, you can start a V8 swap fund. By the time the replacement engine wears out you'll have enough saved to do the swap you always wanted to do.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:53 AM   #4
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A V8 swap in SC is no longer a problem. Motech has certified the Gen IV LS motors with the state and is currently working on getting the Gen V motors certified. They can install a Gen IV 5.3 low mileage engine for as little as $15000. You should give them a call and talk to them.

If you are confident in doing the work yourself the last time I check the swap kit was about $6000. So total cost really depends on what you can find an engine for. I passed up a GEN V L86 engine with less than 20K miles on it and the 8L90 tranny that came with it for $4500 last Christmas.

I am a manual guy also but when it comes to this swap I would opt for the 6L80 or 8L90 automatics. On the 6L80 first gear is 4.02, 4.56 on the 8L90. Add in paddle shift and you have manual control. I had the 6L80 in my first Corvette and if I was not racing it I would of keep it. On the track the auto could not keep up with the manuals, excluding drag racing.

Anyway give Motech a call. They are very good about answering question and we now have a legal engine swap we can do on our vehicles. And IMO even spending $20K on this swap is a good investment if like me you plan on keeping the vehicle for ever. It is a hell of a lot cheaper than a new vehicle.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:57 AM   #5
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So, can the factory 6-speed transmissions handle the 5.3? obviously with a bellhousing adaptation? or is a new transmission required?
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:27 AM   #6
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So, can the factory 6-speed transmissions handle the 5.3? obviously with a bellhousing adaptation? or is a new transmission required?
I can't answer that, give them a call
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:28 AM   #7
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So, can the factory 6-speed transmissions handle the 5.3? obviously with a bellhousing adaptation? or is a new transmission required?
Not really. The NSG370 is not up to V8 power.

Besides, no one makes any adapter for it. You want a stronger transmission for a V8.
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:26 PM   #8
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Old 06-15-2019, 12:09 AM
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Thanks!

Does anyone know if there are reliable performance parts for the 3.8? I mean it's been around since '89 I'm sure there are some somewhere. I know there's a stroker kit to make it a 4.1 but the 3.8 is already a bored out 3.3, plus for the money they're asking its worth just the v8 swap for a little more. I like the RIPP headers, and I don't really want that much torque just about 200 to the wheels as low as I can get it
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:09 AM   #10
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Not really. The NSG370 is not up to V8 power.

Besides, no one makes any adapter for it. You want a stronger transmission for a V8.
makes sense.
That makes it a little more tricky, with the v8, an auto would likely be better then have to deal with clutch pedal removal and all that, might be easier just to get another 3.8 - It's just the sound though! LOL

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