Expand To Show Full Article
How Long Can I Drive With Bad Piston Rings? Not As Long As You Think 

How Long Can I Drive With Bad Piston Rings? Not As Long As You Think 

Your fuel is low, but the nearest gas station is a few miles away. Or, any part of the engine has gone wrong, but the nearest service shop is quite far. Have you ever fallen into situations like these? 

How long can you drive with bad piston rings? A question like this comes when you have a situation like the above examples. 

Also, some people seek the answer because they do not want to replace the bad piston ring soon. This is because of the high cost of piston ring replacement. 

A damaged piston ring damages your car engine too. So, driving your car with a worn piston ring is not a good idea. Without further due, let’s discuss how long you are able to drive with faulty piston rings. 

Accurately How Long Can I Drive With Bad Piston Rings? 

It is hard to calculate. No one can accurately tell how long it is possible to drive with worn piston rings. It depends on the situation, piston’s lifetime, engine power, and engine oil.

Even experts recommend not to drive at all when your piston ring is faulty. It will lead the engine to be damaged. But depending on the situation, you can drive a few kilometers just to reach the nearest service shop or home. 

The lifetime of a piston ring is generally 50,000 to 250,000 miles. On average, they can last about 100,000 miles. Even if you have some miles left after the piston ring breaks, it is dangerous to drive with it.

I will explain why you should not drive with bad piston rings. I will suggest some ways to avoid such situations. Also, what can you do when you have no other way except drive.  

What Will Happen If You Drive With A Faulty Piston Ring?

A piston has more than one piston ring. It has a compression ring, oil ring, wiper ring, and scraper ring. If any of these rings cracks, the whole piston gets wasted. 

A faulty piston ring will create the following problems. 

Excessive oil consumption
  • Oil control ring damage
  • Oil leak will happen
  • Oil level will decrease fast 
  • Oil pressure will rise 
  • Oil burning will be fast 
Poor acceleration power 
  • Compression regulation loss 
  • Lubrication failure 
  • Acceleration will not response 
  • It will speed up the maneuver 
  • Valve seal damage 
White/grey/blue smoke
  • Excessive oil burning 
  • Internal combustion chamber oil leaks 
  • Smoke will emit via exhaust pipe
  • A cloud of white smoke 
  • Blue smoke= dirty air filters 
Engine power loss 
  • Slow acceleration 
  • Insufficient engine speed
  • Over heating 
  • Lack of lubrication 
  • Ignorance= complete engine shutdown 
Ignition timing loss
  • Improper ignition sync
  • Internal damage 
  • Camshaft synchronization shutdown
  • Cylinder wall damage 
  • Crankshaft will be turned off


So, you can say worn piston rings = overall performance damage. 

Even driving one kilometer with a bad piston can cause these problems. I don’t think you will be willing to drive with a bad piston ring after knowing the damage it will do.

I went through different problem-solving websites, forums, and community sites to learn what experts and experienced have to say about it. Let’s have a look. 

What Do Experienced Ones Suggest?

I have already mentioned that no expert will suggest you drive with a bad piston ring. Those who have faced the situation before also say the same. Let me show you some comments from Reddit and Quora

I have also gathered information and experienced replies from different automobile forums and communities like Nosioc, Thirdgen, SR20, Honda-tech, Lis1tech, etc. 

So, you don’t have to go from forum to forum for answers. 

I think now you are pretty sure you can, but you should not dive with a faulty piston ring. If you do, your engine will collapse in no time.

How Long Can I Go In An Extreme Situation?

Replacing a piston ring is expensive. So, many of us want to take some time before repairing it. Also, there can be situations where you must drive. 

No worries, I am showing some ways that you can help yourself in such conditions. 

Drive To The Nearest Garage 

If you notice that your piston rings are worn, immediately look for the nearest garage. If you do not want to replace it at that moment, they will repair it temporarily. 

With that repair, you will be able to drive a few kilometers. Some people drive their car for days with a repaired piston ring. But you should replace it as soon as possible. 

You Can Reach Home 

You can go more than a few kilometers if you are fortunate enough. This will be possible if:

  • You have enough oil and fuel in your tank 
  • Lifetime of the piston ring is still left 
  • You have a powerful engine 
  • Blue smoke is still not out yet 
  • Your engine is still not overheated 

Temporary Repairing 

Let me show you some temporary fixes for worn piston rings. This knowledge will save you from emergencies. 

  • Drain some oil and remove the oil pan 
  • Take out the rod bolts, and the piston 
  • Try to remove the piston rings 
  • Clean the piston very well 
  • Install the new piston rings 

To perform this temporary fix, you must carry some piston rings in your car for safety. 

I am dropping some videos for you to understand the piston rings well and how to repair or replace them. 

Piston Rings Replacement Cost 

Expensive replacement cost is one of the primary reasons people still want to drive with a worn piston ring. There is no other way except the replacement of a blown piston ring. 

The price of new piston rings is not that pricy. But the labor cost of replacing it is too much. Possibly they need to handle the whole engine. Also, it takes more than 10 hours to fix. 

Depending on your engine model, new piston rings will cost from $30 to $150. You need to pay the mechanics from $100 to $200 per hour. So, you may have to pay $1000 to $2000 for a 10 hours job.

If you drive too much, the damage will increase. As a result, the repairing time will increase too. You may need to buy other automobile parts too. 

People Often Ask 

How Long Can A Car Go With Worn Piston Rings? 

Experts recommend not to drive with worn piston rings because it damages the engine. But you can go a few kilometers with it if you have enough oil or fuel.

Do Bad Piston Rings Cause Poor Compression?

Yes, they do. It mainly causes low compression. If you perform a compression test, it will indicate a worn valve cover, bad head gasket, or worn piston rings. 

Will Leak Down Test Indicate Worn Piston Rings?

Primarily builders perform leak-down tests for insight into an engine’s condition. But it can also find specific problems like worn piston rings or bad valve seals. 

Why Is Piston Ring Replacement Expensive?

The price of new piston rings is not that pricy. But the labor cost is expensive due to many hassles like engine check-ups, excessive time, and handling other parts. 

Can I Drive A Few Days With Worn Piston Rings? 

You can, but you should not. You can drive a few days with oil backups, but it will not stop damaging the engine. The more you drive, the more damage & cost will increase.

Avoid Driving With Bad Piston Rings 

If you are fortunate enough, you will be able to drive your car with worn piston rings for days. But the result will not be so good. It will continuously harm the combustion and engine. 

If you are thinking of saving money by driving without caring, you are actually costing more money. You are buying excessive oil and damaging the engine more. Ultimately this leads you to cost more money. 

So, avoid driving your car with faulty piston rings. White/grey/blue smoke, excessive oil consumption, overheating, and poor acceleration will hint you to stop driving and check the piston rings.

How long can you drive with bad piston rings? To prevent a question like this, keep track of the lifespan of the piston, keep new piston rings with you, reserve enough oil, and know about the rings & their basic repairing methods. 

Related Post: