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The Different Ways to Damage Your Piston

January 1, 2018 4679 Views No comments

Pistons are one of the most important components in an engine, and because of that importance, they have to work correctly or you may as well just get a bicycle and pedal yourself wherever you want to go. Pistons suck in the air-fuel mixture and helps compress it within the cylinders. Then that fuel gets ignited by the spark plug and rotates the crank which then gives power to the wheels. Pistons also takes the sudden increase of heat from the ignition and when that’s all said and done expels the exhaust gases.

The movement of the piston up and down is called a stroke and piston engines are categorized by the number of strokes needed to complete one power cycle. A two-stroke engine, like the one found on a Yamaha Banshee 350, has a 2-stroke, 2-step engine, whereas most other ATVs and UTVs have 4-stroke, 4-step engines.

Now since we’re done talking about what a piston does and why it’s important let’s discuss what can cause your pistons to fail. While there are a number of ways to damage your pistons, there are three really easy ways we'll be discussing:

First, damaging your piston is extraordinarily easy when using the wrong kind of fuel. Shocking we know, apparently our parents were right. We’re not talking regular vs. diesel gas, we’re talking about the octane in fuel. The octane rating of gas is important because when the temperatures and pressures from the combustion process exceed the octane of the gas, it causes the fuel to ignite spontaneously. This spontaneous ignition causes high pressure quakes to pulverize the piston and after a while will cause the pistons to fail. It’s for this reason race cars and ATVs for example, can’t just use the cruddy 87 octane some of us use in our less spectacular cars, instead they use racing fuel to curtail the potential piston damage and for the increased compression ratios it can handle.

Secondly, by having a very lean air/fuel mixture your pistons will be forced out of commission along with a ton of other problems. We’ve talked about this before in more depth in our Carburetor Vs. Electronic Fuel Injection post. This for the most part only applies to carbureted vehicles because EFIs are computerized and keep a close watch on the air/fuel mixture. A very lean mixture can create a hot spot in the combustion chamber which can lead to premature ignition, causing the piston to burn because it was subjected over and over again to high combustion temperatures.

Third and lastly, your piston’s skirt can be shattered because the cylinder has too much clearance. This clearance allows it to rattle inside the cylinder. Pistons swell up a little when the engine heats up decreasing the clearance between the piston and the cylinder which leads to it cracking and then eventually shattering. Clearance is very important so when you’re boring your cylinders or buying new pistons make sure to take account of measurements. Even if the clearance doesn’t cause a catastrophic mess like shattering the pistons, it will still result in a loss of compression, power and the piston scuffing. Some aftermarket pistons, like Niche Industries’ Blaster 200 piston kit come Moly-coated to allow for tighter clearances, somewhat alleviating this problem, though coatings still can only do so much.

Those are three of the easiest ways to damage your piston; there are tons of other ways, some which we’ve probably never even heard of. That’s why this is industry is fun to be in and watch. If you have any question about pistons or have any weird or wonderful stories of piston failures please share them in the comments.


1.Back to Basics Preventing Piston Problems:http://www.enginebuildermag.com/2001/08/back-to-ba...

2.Getting a Fix on Piston Diagnosis and Inspection:http://www.underhoodservice.com/getting-a-fix-on-p...

Carburetor vs. Electronic Fuel Injection

August 1, 2017 7276 Views No comments

These days carburetors have mostly been banished from newly produced vehicles due to electronic fuel injection, but there a ton of people who still love and enjoy them. These people will defend carburetors to the death and say when they’re taken care of; they perform better than anything else out there.

To most people, through general use, they probably won’t notice the difference between the two; however there are differences, and they may impact your buying decisions. Just beware of fearing the unknown though, both can be easily maintained, so don’t let your inexperience with one keep you from trying something new. Without further ado, here are the differences.


Carburetors are pretty quirky devices that regulate the amount of air and fuel flowing into the internal combustion engine. Depending on the air-fuel setting, they can either run too rich or too lean. On the rich side you can see things like poor fuel economy, sluggish acceleration, sooty or black spark plugs and a strong smell of gas. On the lean side you can see backfires, lurching acceleration, white/grey spark plugs and needing to use a lot of choke to get your vehicle started.

Carburetors are relatively simple devices and are easily adjusted by people who take the time and learn how to squeeze the best out of them. They’re great for the “Do it Yourselfer”, who enjoys pulling things apart and finding the answer to the problem.

Carburetor using vehicles, especially ATVs and bikes are considerably cheaper than their EFI counterparts because of the general adoption of Electronic Fuel Injection systems.

For a more in-depth explanation about carburetors take a look at our blog article, “Carburetors: What’s the Huff About?”

Electronic Fuel Injection

Electronic Fuel Injection, otherwise known as EFI is taking the world by storm because the system uses computers to monitor and adjust the amount of fuel squirting into the engine, but you kind of lose some of the heart and soul of the vehicle when using them because there’s not as much tinkering to do with them, which might put off some folks. Despite our warm feelings towards carburetors, there are a number of benefits to paying the extra money and investing in an EFI vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers have flocked to these systems because they can consistently reach the increasing regulations handed out by various governments. A computer that can adjust to the elements and to the elevation is also huge advantage, not just because of fuel economy, but because it doesn’t require the rider to change the jets out or adjust them to keep their desired power going. Simply put, carbs can’t adapt like an EFI system can.

The majority of those in favour of EFIs love them for a few distinct reasons. People love how they start without much hassle in cold weather. Carburetors have to be adjusted, rejetted and choked into working like stated before, but EFIs will almost always just start up when they’re warm. EFIs also have extended periods of time without needing maintenance.

EFIs do have some problems, if the computer starts having glitches or if your modding it to the point of the vehicle using too much air or fuel beyond its ability to adjust, then you’ll begin to see your vehicle performing poorly. Modding can be solved by remapping your EFI’s computer or by buying a piggyback system to modify how much fuel and air the computer sends out. The major computer problems on the other hand are difficult to diagnose by yourself and can be costly to fix.

EFIs have replaced carbs in almost every newly released vehicle and carbs are getting rarer every day, but there’s still a lot of good left in them. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which one you want. Let us know in the comments which one is your favourite and why.


  1. Carburetor Vs. Fuel Injection Understanding the Pros and Cons: http://www.carsdirect.com/used-car-buying/carburet...
  2. EFI the Next Generation of Fuel Injection: http://dirtwheelsmag.com/home-page/efi-the-next-ge...
  3. How Electronic Fuel Injection Works: http://jalopnik.com/how-electronic-fuel-injection-...
  4. Injection Inspection What You Need to live in a Fuel Injected World: http://dirtwheelsmag.com/home-page/injection-inspe...