The Difference Between Remanufactured and Reconditioned Engines

The terms ‘remanufacturing’ and ‘reconditioning’ of vehicle engines are often confused in the motor industry, as well as by consumers. As a leading engine remanufacturer for over 50 years, this document explains the differences.

Remanufacturing and reconditioning or ‘reman engines’ and ‘recon engines’ are poles apart when it comes to the actual process involved and the resulting quality of the product.

Reconditioned Engines

A reconditioned engine is one that has been stripped down either partially or fully, cleaned and possibly had some damaged components replaced prior to being rebuilt.

Remanufactured Engines

A remanufactured or reman engine has been returned to the vehicle manufacturer’s or remanufacturers approved specifications through an extensive and audited process.

Key Features Of The
Remanufactured Engine

A remanufactured engine is required to meet specific SABS standards. Petrol engines need to adhere to the SANS10278:2005 standard and diesel engines need adhere to the SANS10274:2005 standard. These standards explain the procedures and operations for the remanufacturing of both petrol and diesel engines.

These processes include the detailed inspection and checking of components against manufacturer tolerances. Key parts, including pistons and ring sets, big and small end bearings and bushes, as well as gaskets, seals, timing chains and drive belts are all required to be renewed, while items such as tensioners and dampers are also required to be inspected and replaced if necessary.

Further important operations, such as intensive cleaning, crack testing machined components and the deburring of reworked oil pathways, are also undertaken to ensure the original specification of the engine is achieved with full reliability. In addition to having all key clearances, tolerances and end floats checked after assembly, the standard also requires complete reman engines to be checked for oil pressure and compression. Remtec Manufacturing takes the high standard demanded by SANS10278:2005 and SANS10274:2005 a step further by combining it with a quality management system certified to ISO 9001:2015 to ensure that customers are provided with a consistently high standard of quality, product reliability and service.

Remanufactured engines built by Remtec Manufacturing also offer the additional advantage of having their own unique serial number, which provides an audit trail for all of the components that have been renewed, as well the remanufacturing completion date and test records.

Therefore, an engine can only be described as ‘remanufactured’ if it complies with SANS10278:2005 and SANS10274:2005. It provides a clear distinction between engines that are professionally remanufactured and those that are classed as inferior recon engines.

Mandatory operations
and procedures include:

Cylinder Head

  • Every cylinder head is inspected for cracks.
  • Engines with OHC configurations have the camshaft bores measured for size, ovality, taper and alignment and are either restored to OEM specification or scrapped.
  • Valve guides are measured for wear and either resized or renewed to conform to original tolerances.
  • Valve seats are machined to retain the correct seat angles, widths, valve heights and valve seating concentric with the centre line of the valve guide bore.
  • Valves are 100% replaced.
  • All valve springs are tested for squareness, free height and compressed load length.
  • Cylinder heads are checked for distortion and thickness.
  • When machining the cylinder head face, attention is paid to maintaining the surface finish specified by the gasket manufacturer.

Cylinder Block

  • When re-facing the cylinder block, attention is paid to the surface finish and deck height.
  • Each cylinder block is re-bored or re-sleeved and honed to give the precise surface finish and cross-hatch required.
  • All main housings are measured for size, ovality, taper and alignment and machined as required.


  • Big end housings are measured for size and ovality and are re-sized as necessary.
  • Small end bushes are measured and replaced if found to be outside OEM specification.
  • All con-rods are checked for alignment and retained in a set for assembly.


  • Camshafts are either replaced with a new unit or cleaned, polished, inspected and re-used without altering profiles


  • After grinding, all crankshafts are polished to produce the exact dimensions and surface finish required.
  • Seal diameters and nose ends are also measured and, if necessary, reclaimed.
  • Blended radii, thrust wear and alignment are also checked.
  • Oil galleries are de-burred and thoroughly cleaned.

New Components

  • All remanufactured engines are equipped with new pistons, piston pins, piston rings, mains and con-rod bearings, timing chain or belt gaskets, oil seals, core plugs and oil filter.
  • These new components are carefully selected for their durability and reliability and are sourced from the same producers that supply the vehicle manufacturers.
  • All diesel pumps and injectors are remanufactured to perform to OEM specifications and to SANS10166:2009 for the remanufacture of diesel fuel injection equipment.


  • Every engine is tested in a purpose-built test cell and subjected to a series of checks, the results of which are recorded against each engine’s specific serial number.

Oil Pump

  • The clearance between the pump’s body and rotor are measured (gears are 100% replaced if the oil pump is re-used.
  • The oil pressure relief valve is dismantled and cleaned and all non-conforming parts are replaced.

The result being, remanufactured engines provide levels of performance, reliability and lifespan that are equal to and, in many instances exceed, those of the original. Most importantly, a remanufactured unit is absolutely not a reconditioned or recon engine.