How Long Can I Drive With Bad Piston Rings?

Piston rings in the car are the set of rings located on the engine, the purpose of these rings is to maintain the regulation of oil pressure and the consumption in view of the engine. So when these piston rings are damaged, faulty, cracked, or have reached the end of durability, the drive faces many issues in the car.

But how long can I drive with bad piston rings? As a general rule of thumb, the piston rings are capable of working for a few hundred miles even if they are bad. You don’t have to replace them if you are driving for a few miles. But if you are driving more than 5,000 miles with bad piston rings it’s time to take the car to the repair center for a timely solution.

If you smell burning oil and see black smoke from the car exhaust pipe, it may be due to bad piston rings. Let’s now find more about it.

Why Cars Have Piston Rings?

There are many components that keep the car going and piston rings are among them. These rings are usually three and lie in between the cylinder and the piston of the engine internal combustion.

The main purpose of piston rings is to help to seal the cylinder so that the gas remains intact with zero leakage while opening into the piston. These rings also maintain the oil lubrication regulation in the engine.  

When you drive the car, the engine lets out a reasonable amount of heat, the piston rings help to release some of the heat that gets accumulated in the engine. Furthermore, the reason for piston rings in cars is that they efficiently absorb in the jerks and shocks between the piston and cylinder wall, hence the car runs smoother.

How Do I Know Piston Rings Have Gone Bad? Signs of Bad Piston Rings

Luckily, the signs of bad piston rings are easy to spot. Here are the few indications that your car gives you if you have damaged, broken, or defective rings in the car!

  • Hot Engine: Usually when the engine is too hot the piston rings get the impact. The reason is piston rings keep up the oil regulation, but when there is breakage then the oil leaks and no presence of oil in the engine makes the engine hotter.
  • Too much Oil Consumption: Another sign is when a car is consuming too much oil. The worn out piston rings take too much oil or cause the oil burning issues which then lead the car towards using even more oil than before.
  • Smoke from car exhaust pipe: If you notice too much gray or blue smoke from the car exhaust pipe, chances are the piston rings have gone bad. The reason can be oil burning.
  • Weak engine power: The loss of engine power is associated with bad piston rings. The reason can be too much compression in the engine. The car may take too much time to accelerate when you step on the gas. There are chances that the car will lose all the power and may not start if the piston rings are bad.

Safety Measure to Avoid Bad Piston Rings

Even if your car is working fine and functional, you can still make it more ideal by adopting the safety tips. In order to maintain the piston rings performance, here are the tips that help increase its durability and output.

Use of quality engine oil

Always use recommended engine oil to maintain performance of car and piston rings. The oil must meet the manufacturer specification to not to cross with the vehicle components performance. The recommended oil offers ideal lubrication that that of regular oil.

Smooth driving

Another tip to avoid bad performance of the piston ring is to avoid harsh and rough driving. Don’t make a habit of harsh acceleration, sudden stopping and driving on uneven grounds that put stress on the car internal components. Rough driving puts the engine into more stress and it certainly wears out the piston rings drastically.

Finding out the problem

Many people tend to ignore minor car glitches. That’s where the issue gets intense. Always check your car and address the issue right away even if it’s minor. Check the signs of piston rings and their performance. If it’s damaged, worn out etc., get it replaced.

Timely maintenance 

Car maintenance is not all about its looks and design. You should make sure the car is well-maintained for its internal performance. Changing the oil frequently is one thing that helps better the piston rings. Make sure of the cleanliness of the rings so that you know of any issue right away.


How long will the engine last with defective piston rings?

The bad piston rings will ruin the engine and there is no second thought about it, therefore, if you notice any of the signs of bad piston rings into your car, it’s suggested to replace them as soon as possible. However, the engine is efficient enough to last for about 100,000 miles on 100,000 miles.

Is it possible to replace piston rings by myself?

Yes, it’s possible. But the process is complex and requires technical knowledge about vehicles. Moreover, it does take a lot of time which means you have to dedicate a day or so just to replace the bad piston rings. 

Therefore, it is suggested to take only professional help to avoid any poor results of fitting etc. always take your vehicle/car to the car mechanic for getting the job done.

How much is the cost for repairing bad piston rings?

The cost of the repairing of the piston depends. Generally, the cost is affordable and the piston ring is available for about $150. However, it may depend on the vehicle model and its components types. 

However, when it comes to repairing the car, the cost gets up to $1,000 to $5,000, besides due to the service and more. You can replace the piston rings without removing the engine of the car!


While poor piston rings can damage the car engine, there are easy ways you can timely and effortlessly keep off its wearing approach. I hope this article has helped you in finding out the reasons, solutions, and the precautions for ideal piston rings performance.

However, if you still find out the bad piston rings in your car, don’t try to replace it on your own unless you have the technical car knowledge and – time!

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