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What exactly does it mean if a car's engine has low compression in one of the cylinders?

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I don't know a whole lot about cars and engines. I know a little bit. I do know that if an engine has low or no compression in any cylinder of its motor, that that is major bad ...show more
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worn rings or valve problem

most likely a valve problem
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  • LeAnne answered 5 years ago
    The compression is a team effort involving the valves, the piston, rings and the cylinder head gasket.
    If the concern is a valve leaking, often only the head and associated valves needs to be repaired.
    The head gasket obviously would need replacement if it's leaking.
    The pistons and rings, however, would indeed involve major engine work.
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  • Otto answered 5 years ago
    Bad rings or valves can cause this. You don't just rebuild one cylinder. If you had a "shattered piston" you would know it from the engine not running and lots of metal shards in the oil pan.

    Source(s):

    A mechanic for over 45 years.
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  • Leinad answered 5 years ago
    low compression means that the compressed air in the block is leaking out.
    this is caused by, overheating,burnt head gasket,or broken piston rings.
    the piston isn't shattered in the block although at high turbo boost the piston melts away.
    if u just overheated or loosing compression without the oil being burnt the engine doesn't need rebuilding.it could be a broken gasket or warped head.
    but if oil is being burnt means the piston rings is broken,hence needs rebuilding

    Source(s):

    samdan auto kaniks
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  • reddwj answered 5 years ago
    You could have a worn cylinder,"out of shape". or the compression rings might be worn, or there is a problem with the valves not seating, or a bad head gasket

    Source(s):

    service mechanic
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  • What exactly does it mean if a car's engine has low compression in one of the cylinders?
    I don't know a whole lot about cars and engines. I know a little bit. I do know that if an engine has low or no compression in any cylinder of its motor, that that is major bad news. But since I am not an expert, I don't know exactly what might be CAUSING the low or zero compression.

    Would this indicate that the piston has shattered in the cylinder? Does it mean that there is a problem with the engine valves? If one cylinder has low or zero compression, it does mean that the entire engine must be rebuilt, correct?
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