A piston ring compressor does precisely as the name suggests, i.e., it compresses piston rings when you need to install a piston in a liner or bore. Piston ring compressors help you compress piston rings so that the piston can be aligned correctly inside a cylinder bore. Furthermore, it also helps to reduce bypassing oil to improve the efficiency of a machine.
The best piston ring compressor would be the one that gives you complete control, an ergonomic handle, versatility, accuracy, and protection for the surface efficiently. Piston ring compressors usually comprise of a thin metal sheet rolled up in the form of a cylinder. This cylinder is clamped with the help of a ratchet belt lock.
Upon inserting a piston with the ring inside this cylinder, you can use the ratchet key to tighten the cylinder around the ring. That way, it is easier to insert it into the vehicle engine bore without damaging the engine liner (Source).
There are two types of piston ring compressors. The first one is an expander type, where you tighten the ring before inserting it in the engine bore. The other one is a tapered type, where the piston ring gradually compresses as you insert it in the engine cylinder (Source).
In this guide, we’ll help you find the best piston ring compressor to help you with piston ring installations without damaging your vehicle engine.
What is a Piston Ring Compressor?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Piston Ring Compressor?
- 2 Can You Just Replace Piston Rings?
- 3 Comparing the Best Piston Ring Compressors
- 4 1. Performance Tool W89410 Piston Ring Compressor Set – The Best Piston Ring Compressor
- 5 2. Lisle 21700 Wrinkle Band Ring Compressor – The Affordable Piston Ring Compressor Option
- 6 3. Plum Garden Piston Ring Installer Removal Kit – The Best Value for Money
- 7 4. Powerbuilt 648433 Piston Ring Compressor – The Best Slide-Free Liston Ring Compressor
- 8 5. Alltrade 940387 Piston Ring Compressor KIT 69 – The Best Motorcycle Piston Ring Compressor
- 9 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Piston Ring Compressor
- 10 How to Use a Piston Ring Compressor
- 11 Ready to Buy a Piston Ring Compressor?
A piston ring compressor is a special tool that is specifically designed for compressing piston rings when a piston is being re-installed. To achieve this, the piston ring compressor is opened large enough for the piston and rings to fit into its opening.
It is then tightened around the rings by turning the adjustment arm clockwise, the piston is then slid into its holes. The compressor ring is then loosened by turning the adjustment arm counter-clockwise while holding the release spring down.
It is important to lubricate the piston ring compressor and the cylinder bore with oil before trying to push the piston down into the cylinder.
Can You Just Replace Piston Rings?
Replacing piston rings is a complicated task. Most vehicle owners will have this work done by a mechanic. However, if you decide to do it yourself, you’ll need a piston ring compressor kit; including a groove cleaner, various size rings, and pliers.
You may also need a retainer tool and an engine brush kit to help you with the installation. Don’t forget to lubricate the cylinder wall, pistons, and rings.
Comparing the Best Piston Ring Compressors
|Performance Tool W89410 Piston Ring Compressor Set|
|Lisle 21700 Wrinkle Band Ring Compressor|
|Plum Garden Piston Ring Installer Removal Kit Ratchet Plier Remover Expander Engine Tool|
|Powerbuilt 648433 Piston Ring Compressor|
|Alltrade 940387 Piston Ring Compressor KIT 69|
1. Performance Tool W89410 Piston Ring Compressor Set – The Best Piston Ring Compressor
Some of the sizes supported by this to include 2 7/8” to 3 1/8″, 3 1/8 to 3 3/8″, 3 3/8 to 3 5/8″, 3 5/8 to 3 7/8″, 3 7/8 to 4 1/8″ and 4 1/8 to 4 3/8”. In metric scale, this would translate to 73 to 79mm, 79 to 86mm, 86 to 92mm, 92 to 98mm, 98 to 105mm, and 105 to 111mm size options.
The construction of these high-quality products is compliant with stringent industry standards. It features a remarkable level of craftsmanship and cons in a well-balanced design. The strength and durability of the to are further enhanced by the industry-leading materials it is made of.
2. Lisle 21700 Wrinkle Band Ring Compressor – The Affordable Piston Ring Compressor Option
You will also like the fact that the wrinkle bands on this Lisle piston ring compressor cannot slip down into the cylinder during then installation. This tool is CAM operated; you only need to set the adjustment screw just once for the entire set of pistons.
This makes the process faster, cutting down piston rings installation time by about half. It may be used on a range of piston size options, ranging from 3” to 5”. Despite its affordability, the tool offers unsurpassed levels of durability and functionality.
3. Plum Garden Piston Ring Installer Removal Kit – The Best Value for Money
This makes it strong enough to install rings as large as 6.4mm (1/4″) without twisting. For engraved versatility, the tool is adjustable, hence capable of installing and removing 2-1/8″ to 7″ (53mm – 175mm) sized piston rings.
The Nickel-plated carbon steel material used to make the pliers is corrosion restart, allowing for enhanced durability. The vinyl-dipped handles, om the other hand, make the tool comfortable to use. It features a Sprung mechanism for fine control.
4. Powerbuilt 648433 Piston Ring Compressor – The Best Slide-Free Liston Ring Compressor
The package includes professionally written usage instructions as well as photos to make piston ring installation a lot easier for you. This Powerbuilt piston ring compressor model is rather dependable and is specifically built to offer power, style, and precision.
They are designed to meet or exceed applicable ANSI standards. As such, the product is backed by a lifetime manufacturer warranty.
5. Alltrade 940387 Piston Ring Compressor KIT 69 – The Best Motorcycle Piston Ring Compressor
It features several piston ring bands that may be adjusted to install 2-7/8” to 4-3/8” pistons. To use the tool, you only need to attach the ratcheting pliers to a band of the right size to compress it in small increments.
The band will then hold compressed ring(s) securely in position until you are done with the installation. Installation instructions are permanently embedded on its heavy-duty storage case.
You will also find the tool to be strong, dependable and precise in action. Its versatilities enhanced by its six differently- piston ring compression bands.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Piston Ring Compressor
Just as is the case with any other mechanic’s tool or equipment, you need to choose the best piston ring compressor for professional results. While shopping for the right ring compressor, here are some of the important considerations you need to make:
Though designed to accomplish the same task, compressors come in different designs. As such, they are operated differently are offer varying levels of performance. These are the four main piston ring compressor types you should consider:
- The Ratchet Roll
This is probably the contest of all piston ring compressor types in use today. It is a budget tool that is often used by home mechanics. Its sold by many auto spares shops and often stocked locally.
The good thing about the ratchet roll piston ring compressors is that they may be used in pistons of almost any size. These compressors are operated by turning the handle once the piston is inside.
This action with tighten the roll and a ratchet will hold it, preventing the ring from expanding again. However, you need to be careful when using this type of compressor as tightening the roll may cause an overlap.
If this happens, the piston rings will rotate from their desired positions.
- The Taper
Tapered piston ring compressor models are renowned for their efficiency. The leading piston ring brands manufacture these compressors in different size options. As such, you will find sizes that are suited for metric bites and others for imperial bores.
With these tools, the tube has a hole of the same size as the bore at the bottom but is larger at the top. With such a compressor, you only need to align the ring gaps, apply the lube, then place your piston assembly into the tool, and press it into the bore.
- The Wrinkle Band
These are adjustable, and suit a wide range of bore sizes. The wrinkle overlap position in such tools is adjustable. It also features a small screw that you may use to make finer adjustments before tightening it over the piston rings.
- The Piston Ring Pliers
This is a rather adaptive kit that comes with a range of attachments allowing it to suit most bore sizes in a single kit. You only need to choose the correct attachment and compress it over the piston rings. The ratchet will keep it compressed as you insert the skirt of the piston in the bore then tap the piston down.
The good thing about this type of piston ring compressors is that they maintain a reasonable piston ring alignment. They are also affordable and may be used with an array of piston sizes.
Get a compressor that has ergonomic handles and a specially designed grip. This makes the tool rather easy to use on all piston sizes. For instance, some models feature a pliers component for optimal comfort at work and high efficiency with reduced strain.
To make the re-installation easy, it is advisable to get a ring compressor that is precise and intuitive. Get one that features the perfect design as well as technological superiority.
In most cases, this depends on the design of the piston automotive tool. However, piston ring compressors by the leading brands are known to offer the right level of precision.
Tools that are made of excellent steel offer improved composition. Several models come with additional chrome surface protection. However, this may also cause the cost of the tool to go up considerably.
How to Use a Piston Ring Compressor
When installing pistons, there are two common types of ring compressor types you may use; the tapered ring compressors and the Expander piston compressors. Regardless of the type, you will be using, you first need to wipe the cylinder bores with a clean, lint-free towel.
You should then apply a small amount of conventional oil to the walls. You should never use non-synthetic oil types for this application. It is also advisable to oil the piston rings, the ring compressor, and the wrist pins as well. Rather than drenching the pistons in oil, just apply a sufficient amount to lubricate the rings.
Using the Expander Type of Ring Compressor
With expander ring compressors, the tool should be clamped over the piston and then tightened into place. You should then rotate the crankshaft into position.
The crank rod journal should be positioned at Top Dead Center for the piston you would like to install.
Place the piston/ring compressor combination over the cylinder bore. While doing this, you just have to be positive the piston is correctly oriented.
For instance, the dome in a domed piston should be on the outside of the block. The valve notches, on the other hand, should be at the top—closer to the lifter valley.
Having positioned the piston-rod combination correctly, double-check the oil ring(s) to ensure the expander ring end gaps haven’t overlapped. If yes connection g rod has press-in bolts, you need to cover them with protectors before proceeding.
Inserting the Piston
At this point, you should be able to push the piston and rod assembly into the bore.
While pushing it in, you should guide the rod so that it falls in place over the crankshaft rod journal simultaneously. In most cases, pushing the pistons with your hands with suffice.
In other cases, you may need to tap it lightly using the handle end of a dedicated piston hammer. Either way, you should not use excessive force.
Using a Tapered Ring Compressor
This is a tapering task, in which the rings are progressively tightened as the piston is pushed through it into the bore. Most of the best-tapered piston ring compressors are made of aluminum and feature a tapered internal shape.
This construction allows the rings to compress gently as the piston is pressed past the tapped compressor into the cylinder bore. Some of the high-end models have a positive grip on the outer surfaces.
This handle will allow you to hold the compressor in position as you work the piston into the bore. Tapered compressors are usually honed to size, with some models having need hard-anodized for enhanced durability.
Ready to Buy a Piston Ring Compressor?
Get a piston ring compressing tool that is precise, affordable and of high quality. Just like the five piston ring compressor tools reviewed above, your preferred model should offer a slip-free experience and be relatively easy to use.
Different piston compressor manufacturers price their products differently. Be sure to choose the best piston ring compressor model that offers great value for money.
Also, check out our helpful guide on testing a fuel pressure sensor with a multimeter. Besides piston ring compressors, consider buying fuel injector cleaning kits. They are specifically designed to keep the fueling system as clean as it can get, removing any obstructions from the channels.
If you are using a piston ring compressor for a car engine, consider also buying a quality diesel compression tester which is a diagnostic tool designed to check out a number of problems with your diesel engine.