Last week I drove on the interstate for about 1 mile when my engine died. the oil light never came on but it was low on oil and a couple thousand miles overdue for an oil change. I had it towed to a shop who told me the engine was seized; they put a wrench on the crankshaft and couldn't turn it.

If possible I would like to repair the engine myself. I have rebuilt engines in the past and worked with machines but have not fixed a seized engine. I am looking for the simplest and cheapest way to get my car running again.

Is there a possibility that I would not have to do a full engine rebuild including honing cylinders? Might I be able to replace the cam bearings without taking the engine out of the car or something like that? basically I just really want to avoid taking the engine out of the car if at all possible since I believe it comes out the bottom and I don't have a lift.

Car is a 2011 Hyundai Sonata with a hundred fifty thousand miles.

EDIT: Thanks to the accepted answer below with super helpful link, I took it to the dealer and they replaced the engine free of charge!

  • If you can't turn the engine over because the pistons are seized in the cylinders, replacing the cam bearings won't do much to fix the problem! Often seized pistons will free themselves when the engine cools down, but apparently yours didn't do that, so the simplest fix (and the quickest, unless you want to spend a lot of your own time working on it) is "don't bother taking anything apart, just replace the whole engine". – alephzero Sep 16 '18 at 19:20

for a little background, I am a Kia master tech. Hyundai and Kia are brother sister companies who share mostly the same drive-train components. both companies have had issues with the 2.0 or 2.4 litter engine installed in your vehicle. I would suggest bringing the car to the dealer (if you have not done so already) as it may still be warrant-able even with your mileage.

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    This is worth a look, the OP can check if their vehicle is included in the recall here – motosubatsu Sep 17 '18 at 11:36
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    It looks like it may possibly be covered! I am scheduling an appointment but I'm a little worried they may say the engine seized from some other cause. Either way it's worth a try though. And thank you so much @motosubatsu for the link!! – ItsJason Oct 18 '18 at 2:34

It will almost definitely be cheaper to buy a reconditioned engine and drop that in than trying to sort out a seized engine. This is because you're going to have to pay for a lot of machining work in addition to replacing all the damaged parts. Even if you're saving some money on the labour aspect by doing the tear down and reassembly yourself.

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    This was my assessment as well, and I found a shop to do it at a reasonable price...until I read the answer below and the comment from @motosubatsu Didn't take it in it yet luckily because it looks like it may be covered! – ItsJason Oct 18 '18 at 2:33

if only the cams were seized the crank would not be locked solid, it'd move slightly

I expect you're going to need to disassemble the seized parts, add replace or re-finish any damaged surfaces. this will almost certainly involve removing the crank and pistons.

support the engine on timbers, jack up the car place ramps under the wheels and roll it off the engine.


You can try filling the bores with diesel and letting it sit for a week. I've had success in the past using this technique coupled with a big breaker bar on the crank and rocking the bar backwards and forwards a bit at a time.

This is far from the ideal way to repair a ceased engine though and assumes that isn't physical damage to the pistons, rings or bores.

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