How to Inspect Your Car's Pistons

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How to Inspect Your Car's Pistons

Although the prospect of inspecting your car's pistons may seem a little daunting, the process is easier than you might think. Inspecting a car's pistons regularly means you know quickly when replacement is necessary. It also helps you spot other problems with the engine and its components. Watching for certain signs helps you determine when it is necessary to call a mechanic for assistance.


Prepare the Engine Before Inspecting the Pistons

To make the task easier, you need to degrease your car's engine before inspecting the pistons. Using a product like Gunk usually does the trick, as the ingredients specifically target car engines. Gunk engine degreaser comes in a spray that makes it easy to remove grease without coming into contact with the product or the grease. After degreasing, use a digital camera to take pictures of the car engine in as much detail as possible. Doing this makes putting it back together easier using the photos as reference. Read through the car's manual and the disassembly instructions once or twice. Familiarising yourself with these instructions reduces the risk of getting it wrong.


Disassemble the Engine and Prepare the Pistons

For safety reasons, you should never disassemble a car engine without making sure it is completely cool first. After ensuring the engine is cool, remove each piece from the top down and place all the components in order on a work bench. When you reach the engine pistons, drive out the pins using a device like a mandrel. You may need to heat them slightly before doing this.


Inspect the Pistons for Defects

Inspect the pistons and the piston rings for defects in clear light. Common defects include cracks, which can cause the pistons to explode into the engine when ignored. Piston rings feature clear grooves that allow them to hold on to the pistons. When these grooves show signs of wear, it is necessary to replace them. When replacing piston rings, try to use manufacturer-specific replacements. For example, use BMW piston rings for BMW vehicles. It is normal for the grooves to feature slight rounding, but significant wear or signs of asymmetry indicate a problem. Inspect the pistons for signs of burning, as this could indicate the engine is overheating, spark knock is occurring, or the preignition is faulty. Scuffing on the piston is another sign of overheating. Although signs of wear are inevitable, excessive wear warrants replacement or a mechanic's attention.

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