Diagnosing Piston Damage: An Intro for Those in Auto Mechanic Training

The pistons are an essential part of a vehicle’s engine, responsible for controlling oil pressure and regulating engine oil consumption. As they are exposed to consistently high temperature and pressures, extreme conditions can sometimes result in piston damage. When a piston fails, the engine suffers. This can lead to further complications and specific problems with the engine performance. 

Luckily, piston damage often presents a number of symptoms. For professionals working in the auto service industry, their work involves diagnosing and repairing numerous automotive problems. When it comes to piston damage, identifying the problem is the first step before acting quickly to prevent engine breakdown. Here’s a closer look at how to effectively diagnose piston damage. 

Causes of a Cracked Piston

It’s important to understand the causes of vehicle damage in order to know how to treat it and to avoid similar problems in the future. While pistons in modern engines are designed to last for the full lifespan of a vehicle, they can still fail if the engine conditions become excessive. 

Excessive engine loads and high localized temperatures are the main causes of a cracked piston. Since pistons operate in tight conditions in the engine, they must remain well-lubricated when the engine is running. A lack of lubrication can lead to overheating and friction, resulting in piston damage. By understanding the causes of vehicle damage, professionals with auto mechanic training can take the necessary precautions to reduce the need for future repairs. 

You should know the underlying causes of piston damage as a professional auto mechanic

The Symptoms of Piston Damage 

The symptoms of piston damage are often similar to other problems related to a vehicle’s compression. One of the most common signs of a faulty piston is white or grey smoke coming out of the exhaust. This is usually caused by burning oil in the combustion chamber. Other notable symptoms include reduced engine performance and low power for acceleration. Generally, this indicates a loss of compression in the engine. If a vehicle is showing signs of excessive oil consumption, there may be a leak in the combustion chamber. 

Since the piston is responsible for regulating pressure and oil consumption, a damaged piston has a negative impact on both these areas. While many of these symptoms are not always attributed to a faulty piston, if they do occur it’s a good idea for a professional auto mechanic to check for wear and tear on the piston to determine if it needs replacing. 

Piston damage can result in poor compression in the engine

Things to Consider as a Professional Auto Mechanic

If you think a vehicle may have sustained piston damage, there are a number of steps you can take to confirm your diagnosis. Running a compression test on the car’s engine will identify any cylinders with poor compression. If a cylinder has low compression, it could be a result of worn piston rings. A visual check will also reveal any cracks or damages on the piston head. If there is excessive damage to the piston crown, it should be replaced. Additionally, before replacing the piston it’s important to establish the underlying cause of the problem to reduce the risk of further damage to the new piston. 

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