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Bad Valve Seals and Piston Rings Symptoms & Replacement Cost

February 13, 2017 | Engine Info

This discussion is about the symptoms of bad valve seals and piston rings as well as their basic functions and common cost of replacement. Valve seals and piston rings are crucial for the functionality of your engine. If you can recognize the signs of when these components have problems, then you can replace them right away before serious damage is done to your engine.

Functions of Piston Rings

The piston is located inside of a car’s engine. The piston ring comes in the form of a split type ring and you install it outside of the piston’s diameter. The piston ring’s main purpose is to assist in sealing the combustion chamber, manage the oil consumption of the engine, and to assist in transferring heat to the engine from the piston. It is important to note that the piston ring will eventually get worn out, which means you’ll have to replace it. You should go to a professional mechanic to have this replacement job done.

Functions of Valve Seals

After air and fuel are mixed together, valves are there to manage how much of the mixture flows through the cylinders before the combustion process takes place. Valves usually have sleeves on them which prevent the combustion gasses from seeping out of them. The tops of the valves also have seals on them which prevent oil from getting pulled down into the engine area. These seals are commonly constructed out of a super strength rubber material and they’re placed into a small collar of the valve stem’s top area. Once these valve seals start to get worn out, you’ll notice some major symptoms that are unique to this problem.

The Symptoms of Bad Valve Seals and Piston Rings

The symptoms of bad valve seals and bad piston rings are quite similar. Any time either one of them fails, the performance of the vehicle will be reduced along with other bad symptoms that are noticeable. Let’s take a look at some warning signs which might indicate that you have bad valve seals or piston rings.

Exhaust Smoke – If you notice thick smoke that’s a gray or white color, this indicates that your car is burning oil. The only way this could happen is if the oil is leaking into the combustion chamber of your engine.

Too Much Oil Being Consumed – If the piston rings are worn out and the valve seal is broken, this will be what allows oil to flow into the combustion chamber.

Not Enough Accelerating Power – When there is damage to the piston rings and valve seals, the compression will be reduced which causes you to lose power in your engine. As a result, you won’t be able to accelerate when you put your foot on the gas pedal.

Although bad valve seals and piston rings have similar symptoms, the time and costs of repairing them are quite different. That is why you should educate yourself about where the problem is coming from, whether it’s the valve seals or piston rings. Once you find out, you can save time and money from having a mechanic figure it out for you.

To investigate where the problem is coming from, there are a few tips you can follow which will help you out with this. You can open the spark plug, fill up the cylinder with some oil, do a compression test, remove the EFI fuse and crank the engine, and then see the result of the compression gauge. If the result of the compression test appears to be good or at least average, then the piston rings are likely the problem. However, if the results of the compression test are low or under average, then the valve seals are the problem.

Replacement Cost of Piston Rings

When replacing piston rings, the cost will be determined by several factors. The make and model of your vehicle is one example. You also have to consider the type of engine that’s in your car and the condition of it. Most mechanics are going to charge around $1,500 minimum to perform this job. Some may even charge as much as $2,500. The reason this replacement job is so expensive is because it is a complicated task. The engine of the vehicle has to be completely disassembled first and then the cylinders of the vehicle have to be reconditioned. After that, the car gets reassembled using all the parts that were taken off originally. Only an experienced mechanic can perform this task, which is a very long and intense project that takes several hours to do.

Replacement Cost of Valve Seals

If you have discovered there is damage to your valve seals, then have an auto technician install new oil seals. The cost of this replacement job will be between $900 and $1,800, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. The process of replacing the valve seals requires disassembling the entire engine until you can reach the valve spring. Take off the cylinder head cover, the spark plugs, pushrods, and rocker arms. The amount of time this will take depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Sometimes the technician may have trouble with this job, so they’ll dismantle and remove the cylinder head. Then they’ll use a cylinder kit as a replacement which contains a cylinder head gasket.

Read also: Bad Oil Pressure Sensor Symptoms & The Causes Of “Oil Presssure Light On”

Conclusion

There are lots of reasons why damage can occur to valve seals and piston rings. But if you regularly maintain your vehicle and get it serviced, then the damage to these components will be minimal. Vehicles that are maintained poorly or have high mileage are prime candidates for having damaged valve seals and piston rings.

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