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Piston Rings

By Daniel Dillon, April 27, 2009

The piston rings are thin, round bands of spring steel that encircle the diameter of the piston. There are two types of rings—compression rings that create a seal between the sides of the piston and the cylinder wall, and oil control rings that clean oil from the cylinder walls so it’s not burned during the combustion process.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Piston Ring

  • Engine misfire
  • Excessive oil consumption

Piston Ring Related Repair Advice

  • Excessive oil consumption can be caused by sludge buildup on the oil control rings. In some cases, special cleaners can be used to clean the rings without disassembling the engine.
  • While a damaged piston ring can be replaced, it's common to have the engine replaced when piston ring damage is encountered
  • A "short block" replacement may also be recommended—this replacement only includes the lower parts of the engine and leaves out the cylinder head and intake manifold

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