4 Symptoms of a Bad Piston Rings and Replacement Cost

The engine inside of your vehicle contains a series of rings that are called piston rings. These rings help regulate the oil pressure and the amount of oil consumed by the engine.

If the piston rings were to get damaged or worn out, then you will have all kinds of problems happening with your engine. Even though the piston rings are small and inexpensive parts, they are critical for the operation of the engine.

Bad Piston Rings Symptoms

The tricky part about bad piston rings symptoms is that they are similar to the symptoms of bad valve seals. But you should take your vehicle to an auto mechanic and have it checked out either way.

Below are the top 4 symptoms of bad piston rings.

1) Too Much Exhaust Smoke

If there is a lot of exhaust smoke coming out of your vehicle, this could be an easy sign that you have bad piston rings. This smoke will look very thick and have gray and white colors to it.

When you have bad piston rings, engine oil will start leaking into the combustion chamber. Once that happens, the oil will burn and create the thick gray and white exhaust smoke that you see coming out.

2) A lot of Oil Consumed

This symptom has the same result as the first symptom listed here. When you have worn piston rings and oil leaks into the combustion chamber, it will cause a lot more oil to be used up by the vehicle.

This means you’ll have to regularly add oil to your vehicle rather than wait the standard 3,000 to 5,000 miles before you do it. If you find yourself adding oil more often than you should, then have a mechanic inspect your piston rings.

3) Weak Acceleration Power

When piston rings suffer wear or get damaged, your engine will lose its power because there is less compression taking place.

This means when you put your foot on the gas pedal to accelerate, the vehicle will take a long time to speed up. In this case, you will need to have your piston rings replaced to fix the problem.

4) Poor Vehicle Performance

The worst-case symptom of bad piston rings is when you lose all power in your vehicle. You won’t be able to accelerate your vehicle at all and its overall performance will be very poor.

You’ll probably have to tow your vehicle to the nearest mechanic because the performance will be so bad. However, you will only experience this symptom if you’ve ignored the first three earlier symptoms as they occurred.

Piston Rings Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of the piston rings will be quite expensive. The piston rings themselves only cost between $30 to $150 for the parts. However, most of the replacement cost has to do with the labor behind it.

Since the piston rings are inside of your engine, this means an auto mechanic will need to remove the engine from your vehicle and disassemble it so they can access the worn-out piston rings.

After they replace the piston rings, they must reassemble the engine and install it back into your vehicle. The whole process will take over 10 hours on average.

Read also: 5 Symptoms of a Brake Fluid Leak and Average Repair Cost

The average auto mechanic charges between $100 to $200 per hour to perform a replacement job of this magnitude. Therefore, let’s say it takes your local auto mechanic approximately 11 hours to perform this task, this means you’ll be paying between $1100 and $2200 just for the labor alone.

Add about $100 in parts and that will come out to $1200 to $2300. Of course, this price range could be even higher if your engine is harder for the mechanic to access. It all depends on the make and model of your vehicle.

7 thoughts on “4 Symptoms of a Bad Piston Rings and Replacement Cost”

  1. What happens if u have all these signs except the exhaust smoke. I need to put oil in my car more than I have ever done b4. I do not have an oil leak. So could this be about the values? Last time I took my car to the mechanic cause I lost all power cpl years ago. He replaced the points and coils. And it ran fine. I do have the same sluggish engine again now. So I’m unsure on wat it maybe.

    • If it’s not leaking oil on the ground, it’s burning it. Most commonly it’s piston rings or valve guide seals. You may not always see smoke out of your tailpipe if it’s not too severe. Make sure you’re not using synthetic oil since it can get through seals where a conventional oil wouldn’t.

      • Hi Kevin thanks for your advice.
        I’ve been using synthetic oil from when I purchased the car because I always serviced my car at the Toyota dealership to my knowledge they was using synthetic. I had my car serviced by Exxon and they used synthetic oil from what my invoice said and approximately 3 days later I started up my car and smoke came out the exhaust so I kept driving and when I got on the freeway as a result of me accelerating more smoke came out and then my low oil pressure light came on. I took it back to the place they said it was no oil in my car so they put oil again and it still does it . I also have high mileage as well so I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not . I’m not sure if I should change the oil either to a thicker oil .

  2. Oh ok so I’m using synthetic oil and for the first time of me using synthetic oil my car began blowing out blue light smoke 5 days after me getting a full service including oil change . I am beyond concerned because my has never done that it is a 2016 Toyota Avalon it blows out smoke every few days once or twice throughout the day of me driving , any suggestions

    • Out of curiosity, what made you switch to synthetic? While it does a better job of lubrication, it also has different flow properties. So if you have any wear on your piston rings or valve seals where conventional oil didn’t seep through, synthetic likely will find a way through. Depends how much oil you’re going through. Fixing the problem (leaking rings or seals) is the best thing to do but you can simply live with it (and add oil as necessary) or switch back to conventional oil.

  3. Getting a really high quote from a local dealer for replacement of all 4 of my piston rings which I am told involves an engine flush and an oil change. $3,900.00 I was told 20 hours of labor and 900-1200 for parts.


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