How to Tell if Motorcycle Piston Rings Are Bad

How to Tell if Motorcycle Piston Rings Are Bad

Your motorcycle’s engine has piston rings that are responsible for regulating the oil consumption of your engine, and controlling air pressure as well. If your piston rings become worn out or damaged, you will start encountering a myriad of problems and issues every now and then. If left unattended, it will lead to several problems in your motorcycle’s engine, and you will end up going through an expensive engine repair. So, it is better to look out for the warning signs so that you can get them resolved in time. This oneHOWTO article will try to find out how to tell if motorcycle piston rings are bad.

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Symptoms of bad piston rings in a motorcycle

If there is a problem with your piston rings, you will often experience symptoms that you would normally see with any other problem with the low compression of your motorcycle. While these symptoms may not be a sure sign of having bad piston rings, they can be good indicators that you need to check your piston rings for damage or wear. If this is the case, you may need to replace them immediately. Some of the symptoms to look out for are:

  • Grey or white smoke from the motorcycle’s exhaust: Grey or white smoke from you exhaust system is a sure sign of burning oil. This can happen when oil leaks into your motorcycle’s combustion chamber and it gets burnt due to excessive heat.
  • Excessive consumption of oil: If your motorcycle’s piston rings are bad or worn out, the oil will start flowing into your bike’s combustion chamber, due to which you will end up filling more oil than normal
  • Low power when you accelerate: When your piston rings are bad, compression will be deteriorated due to which you will have low power in your motorcycle’s engine. Because of this, you will have problem while accelerating the vehicle
  • Overall deterioration in performance and power.

How to check piston rings of a motorcycle

If you suspect that your motorcycle piston rings are bad, or if your motorcycle is showing any of the symptoms mentioned above, a professional mechanic would recommend running a compression test on your motorcycle’s engine. Therefore, it's best you take it to a professional so it's properly tested.

In this test, he will remove one of the spark plugs from your motorcycle’s engine, and he will try to start it with the compression gauge at the cylinder from where he has removed the plug. You can even purchase this compression gauge, in case you want to test it yourself. A certified mechanic may also decide to diagnose your motorcycle’s engine to test for further issues.

How to Tell if Motorcycle Piston Rings Are Bad - How to check piston rings of a motorcycle

What’s the solution?

If your motorcycle’s piston rings are bad, you will need to get them replaced as soon as you spot the problem. The price that you will have to pay will depend on a number of factors.The most important is the make and model of your motorcycle. The type and condition of your motorcycle’s engine will also determine the overall cost that you will have to pay. It may range from $1500 to $2500, probably because it is a complicated task and an unprofessional person can hardly do it. To replace the piston rings, the professional will completely disassemble the motorcycle’s engine and recondition the cylinders. After replacing the rings, all the parts have to be reassembled exactly as they were before. Only experienced professionals can do this task, and they will require several hours to do it successfully.


There may be several reasons why your piston rings get damaged or worn out. But with regular maintenance and service of your motorcycle, you will minimally damage your components and they will stay with you for longer. Poorly maintained motorcycles are more susceptible to having bad piston rings, while regularly maintained vehicles are sure to have a longer and healthier life, which is why we advise you to follow these 10 motorcycle maintenance tips to keep your motorbike healthy. Do not ignore the significance of taking your motorcycle regularly to a professional mechanic to get it diagnosed, even if you are not having any problem as of now.

How to Tell if Motorcycle Piston Rings Are Bad - Conclusion

If you want to read similar articles to How to Tell if Motorcycle Piston Rings Are Bad, we recommend you visit our Motorbike Maintance and Repair category.

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very useful
OneHowTo Editor
Thank you Gokulbalaji!
naveen kumar
hero splendour plus heavy black smoke coming from my bike.

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