There's nothing more frustrating than discovering there is something major amiss with a race engine, whether at the shop or at the track. The worst part is the realization that there is nothing you can do outside of heading to your engine builder. That, of course, requires using valuable time to pull out the engine.

But pulling an engine doesn't have to be frustrating. Make no mistake, it's not going to be enjoyable and it will involve work, but there are some things you can do to make it less frustrating.

There are a lot of steps involved when pulling the engine out of any vehicle, and some may be different if you are driving a front wheel drive vehicle, but most of the same steps apply:


Undo the driveshaft
Drain the transmission grease
Drain the water
Drain the engine oil
Unhook fuel and oil lines
Unhook the steering box lines from the power
steering pump
Unhook the carburetor
Attach the lift plate to the intake
Hook up the cherry picker
Drop the exhaust
Pull the headers
Pull the motor mounts

Now you should be ready to pull the engine. Anyone ever involved in this process will tell you that it can take a few hours.

Here, in no particular order, are a few steps to help lower the frustration level. Again, a few of these helpful reminders may not apply to your particular vehicle because of the differences in the drivetrains from vehicle to vehicle.


Drain The Water Outside
I quickly learned that, no matter how hard you try not to, you are likely to spill a lot of fluids on the floor, which can make it extremely difficult to perform the other tasks when pulling an engine. One of the smartest things you can do is to push the car outside and just quickly undo the bottom hose of the radiator and drain as much of the water out of the radiator as possible. This will help keep the shop floor clean, dry, and safe.

If your car is already on jackstands, it's a good idea to get a big drain pan that can catch any fluids that will come out of your engine and transmission. If you choose not to drain the transmission grease, you can get a rear housing plug for the transmission, keeping all of the fluid in place.


Purchase An Engine Stand
Never, under any circumstance, should you rest the engine's weight on the oil pan. I learned this the hard way after I used an old tire carcass on the bed of a truck to support an engine. I only did this once after my engine builder showed me the oil pan and how badly it was bent. The engine stand is quite inexpensive when compared to the investment in your engine. An engine stand, like the one shown in the accompanying photos, ranges from $45 to $60. Why risk damaging the oil pan when you can use something this inexpensive?

If you decide to purchase a stand for the engine, go to your local hardware store and purchase a few casters. Then weld the casters to the bottom of the stand. Now you have a rolling engine stand that will be much easier to transport and to move around your shop.


Never Pull The Engine Out Alone
It is never a good idea to pull an engine out of the car by yourself. You need assistance, even if you simply have a friend there to make sure nothing goes wrong. There is nothing wrong with working on the engine alone as long as you have a safe working environment, but it's much safer to have someone there to help you. Also, the more people on hand to help, the quicker you can get the engine out.

Consider investing in a good cherry picker. Remember, this piece of equipment will be responsible for lifting your biggest investment in and out of the vehicle, so it's worth the investment.