How To Paint Your Engine Block The Right Way

We all want our car to be the best version of itself both outside and under the hood. 

Painting an engine block is something only the most serious car enthusiasts think about because of the complexities involved. 

The engine is a key component that undergoes a lot of thermal stress and you need to be careful about a lot of things before proceeding with a paint job.

Read on to learn the basics and get started with making your engine the talk of the town.

First Thing’s First: Removing the Engine

The first thing before getting the engine painted is to remove it from the hood and prep it. You might wonder if it’s possible to get it painted while it’s in the car

It’s obviously easier and naturally, no one will look at any other part. 

However, it’s impossible to cut corners when it comes to any modification to the engine.

Engines don’t operate separately. There is a network of different systems starting from fuel injection to exhaust maintenance that works collectively to drive the car. 

It’s almost impossible to ensure that the paint you use for the engine block doesn’t interfere with these systems and cause problems down the line.

Apart from that, your engine block also needs a plethora of preparatory steps before it’s ready for the paint. 

Therefore, you removing the engine from the hood is extremely important before doing anything else.

Removing and dismantling your engine for a paint job is a relatively straightforward process. 

All you need to do is to ensure that you are removing all the connections before getting started with the transmission mounts.

An additional item you’ll need is an engine stand that will ensure access to the entire assembly and help you throughout the process. 

Moreover, engine stands are also quite versatile and movable, which makes it even easier for you to move the engine around.

Painting an Engine: DIY vs Professional Help

Before starting with the actual preparation steps, one important thing that needs to be addressed is the question of painting the engine yourself or visiting a professional. 

Generally, painting an engine is easier when you compare it with painting the exterior sheet metal of the car.

However, that doesn’t mean that there are no complexities involved. 

Engine blocks require careful consideration of different factors and a series of important steps before the actual task of painting begins.

This is why it’s always better to seek professional help if you are not experienced with the process. 

If you’ve seen it happen or have assisted someone doing it on their own, then you are good to go and may start with the process on your own. 

Let’s go over the steps of what you need to do now.

The Right Way of Painting Your Engine

For the best results, it’s imperative that the engine is properly prepared before the painting begins. That way, the results would be both long-lasting and effective. 

The first step is to drain all the fluids from the engine and start disassembling it. 

The engine fluids are most petroleum-based and are among the most corrosive items out there. 

Without any protection, the paint job will quickly disintegrate and take you back to square 1.

The next thing for you to do is to conduct a detailed inspection of your engine. 

In this case, a quick visit to the mechanic would be the best because you’ll get to know about all the flaws and weaknesses of the engine.

Mostly, people proceed with painting older engines, which makes the inspection even more important. 

The older the engine is, the more deteriorated it will be. Especially if you consider an engine that hasn’t been in use for a long time.

Getting an engine professionally checked ensures that any repairs you might need, or any other issue get timely addressed. 

Otherwise, your efforts of painting it would be in vain. 

Here are the steps you’ll need to get started.

Masking-off the Block

As stated before, the engine block consists of a series of sensitive components that need to be blocked off from any kind of paint exposure. 

The precision machined surfaces house materials like the gasket or fuel injection system where even the smallest deviation can cause issues.

When it comes to any modification in the engine, it all comes down to the details. 

This task will probably take the longest time and will also require the most precision. 

Protect all exposed cavities like the cylinder bore, fastener holes, mounts, and other areas where precision is a key factor.

Generally, the most common choice is the brand frog tape, which gets its name from the distinctive green color it has. 

The tape is used for blocking off engine blocks as it offers superior adhesion and trims easily, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Trimming the Paint Mask

Some people consider trimming part of the masking process, but it should be considered different as it requires separate considerations and time. 

After masking, the process is relatively simple and requires only a small blade and your concentration. Carefully go through the entire engine profile and cut through the areas that are covered more than they should.

One thing you’ll have to be very careful about is the cutting process. 

The left-over tape should properly adhere to the surface. Otherwise, any paint would leak in and cause damage to the components.

Primer Coat

Finally, it comes down to the simple process of applying a primer coat on the engine. 

This primer coat is quite necessary as it allows the paint to properly adhere to the engine and deliver a long-lasting glow.

Furthermore, the primer also adds to the overall protection of the engine from any unknown or corrosive element you might have in the paint. 

Just like the paint, it also is available in cans. 

So, all you’ll need to do is to shake the cans vigorously, hold them about 12 to 14 inches away from the engine, and get started with the process.  

Painting Process

Just like the primer, the final coat also requires the same process. 

Simply make sure that the engine block is free from all kinds of dust and other contaminants. 

This would ensure the quality of your paint remains the same throughout.

Most manufacturers recommend a certain temperature range or humidity during the painting process. 

However, it’s not an operational requirement as most brands work well in any temperature.

As for the colors, you can use any combination you want but most enthusiasts try to match the color scheme of their vehicle or some specific colors to match up cars of the same manufacturers.

Removing the Paint Mask

The final step after getting the engine block painted is the removal of any masking or other barriers. 

The process is extremely simple. 

All you need to do is to pull the tape and ensure that there is no residue left on the block. Some areas might require you to cut the tape out because of their shapes and adhesion properties.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have the basic idea of how an engine block can be painted. Here’s a small list of some frequently asked questions about the topic.

What is the Best Paint for an Engine Block?

Not all paints will work with engines because of the high temperatures involved. 

Engine paints come with special resins and other compounds that allow the paint to sustain higher temperatures and dissipate heat effectively. 

There is no brand that’s better than the other. Any brand that offers engine paints would work.

Is Priming Necessary Before the Paint Coat?

Yes! Priming allows the paint to stick properly and gives it an additional shine that looks amazing. 

Furthermore, priming also plays a part in protecting the engine as it acts as an additional layer against contaminants in the paint and the environment as well.

How Many Cans Does It Take to Paint an Engine Block?

For general passenger engines, a single can of primer and paint would be more than enough. However, you’ll have a limitation of a single color in that case. A lot of cars use multiple cans together to offset the additional paint cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint an Engine Block?

Generally, painting an engine block is a simpler job than painting a whole car

Most of your costs will be related to engine inspection and material procurement. 

So, you can easily get started with the process without investing too much capital. In most cases, it costs anywhere around $150 to get the job done.

Key Takeaways

Painting an engine block is not a simple job. 

However, it’s not too complicated as well. As long as you are focusing on all the details and are following the general guidelines, you’ll be good to go.  


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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