Piston Rings Kit

Cost of Replacing Piston Rings

Last Updated on March 18, 2022
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

The piston ring is a split kind of ring that fits outside the piston inside the engine. The primary function of a piston ring is to seal the combustion chamber, support a heat transfer from the piston to the engine, and control the engine’s oil usage. As time goes by, the piston ring can usually break and will need to be changed. If this happens, a mechanic will typically have to be hired in order to deal with the issue.

Just how much does it cost to change the piston rings?

The expense to change the piston rings can depend upon a bunch of different factors. This can include things like the make and model of a vehicle, the kind of engine, and the general condition of the engine. Typically, a mechanic can charge anywhere from $1,800 to as much as $3,500+ to change worn piston ring/s. Although the piston rings are inexpensive, practically all of the expenses will be in the labor needed because it can in some cases take longer than 10 hours to pull apart the engine and put it back together as neatly as it was.

For those who wish to finish the task themselves, the piston rings will be found in a full package, typically retailing for $75 to as much as $200, again, depending upon the aspects pointed above. At AutoZone, for instance, a sealed power piston ring set retails for about $40 to $80. Remember that these rates are for the rings and no extra parts that might be broken or needed to finish the job.

On an online forum thread, a member noted it will cost around $1,500 to dismantle the motor, around $500 to take out the piston heads, and another $700 approximately to take apart the motor and restore it, bringing the overall expenses closer to $2,700 at their local mechanic.

An individual on CarTalk stated they were quoted a price of $2,500 to change the piston rings, resurface the valves and change the valve seals.

A member on GM-Trucks stated that their service consultant at a regional car dealership estimated the job at about $3,500 to change the piston rings in their truck.

Details on changing the piston rings

Before the mechanic even considers changing the piston rings, they will first run a compression test to ensure the rings are the culprit. Usually, a valve seal can give out the same signs as that of a broken piston ring, so this is why it is necessary to run the test to see where the issue is really originating from. Throughout a compression test, the mechanic will open the spark plug, fill the cylinder with oil, get rid of the EFI fuse, and crank open the engine. If the test looks good or within normal standards, then there’s a likelihood it’s the piston rings; nevertheless, if the test is below par, there might be an issue with the valve seals.

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Changing the piston rings can be a rather complicated procedure, and in many cases, it might not be possible due to the micro finish on the cylinder bores considering that it will not “seat” perfectly. The mechanic will need to totally take apart the vehicle’s engine, recondition the vehicle’s cylinders, and only then reassemble all the parts. This is a really time-consuming task, typically taking 10+ hours to totally fix the issue. At $85 to $100 per hour, this alone might be $850+ in labor expenses.

What are the additional expenses?

The piston rings can be only part of the issue. A mechanic might also suggest that you change other parts of the engine as well, such as the pistons and/or gaskets, for instance. Actually, there might be times where the mechanic will just outright advise you to get a brand-new or reconstructed engine entirely as it will be a less expensive path to take.

Tips to remember

Piston Rings CostIf your engine misfires, you see smoke from the exhaust, there’s not enough accelerating power or you’re seeing too much oil consumption, then this might be an indication that your piston rings are broken. Extreme oil consumption, for instance, might be happening because of the sludge accumulation near the oil control rings. While some special cleaners can in some cases solve the issue by cleaning up the rings, this isn’t always the case.

Generally, when the piston rings start to wear, there’s a likelihood other parts within the engine are going to stop working soon after or later on.

How can I save some money?

Talk with a mechanic before considering to change the piston heads. Most of the time, some might advise that you change the whole motor instead of just the piston heads since there will be times when changing the piston rings will not solve the issue. Although changing the engine might sound expensive, it can be a more affordable option. If a piston ring is used or broken it can’t be fixed. To do the job as well as possible, you might need to set up brand-new pistons, in addition to the rings.

If you are going to work with a mechanic, try getting a couple of quotes over the phone. Just tell them the make and model of your vehicle, the condition of the engine, and what has to be done if you know exactly the issue. While some might wish to see it personally, many of them will happily offer you a ballpark price quote over the phone.

Alec Pow
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