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Old 08-01-2010, 01:34 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: MI
Vehicle: 1998 Ford F150 5.4L 4X4
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Compression Testing (Proper)

Compression Test—Compression Gauge Check

1. Make sure the oil in the crankcase is of the correct viscosity and at the correct level and that the battery is correctly charged. Operate the vehicle until the engine is at normal operating temperature. Turn the ignition switch to the OFF position, then remove all the spark plugs.

2. Set the throttle plates in the wide-open position.

3. Install a compression gauge such as the Compression Tester in the No. 1 cylinder.

4. Install an auxiliary starter switch in the starting circuit. With the ignition switch in the OFF position, and using the auxiliary starter switch, crank the engine a minimum of five compression strokes and record the highest reading. Note the approximate number of compression strokes required to obtain the highest reading.

5. Repeat the test on each cylinder, cranking the engine approximately the same number of compression strokes.

Compression Test—Test Results

The indicated compression pressures are considered within specification if the lowest reading cylinder is within 75 percent of the highest reading. For additional information, refer to the Compression Pressure Limit Chart.

Click the image to open in full size.

If one or more cylinders reads low, squirt approximately one tablespoon of Super Premium SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil, XO-5W30-QSP meeting Ford specification WSS-M2C153-G on top of the pistons in the low-reading cylinders. Repeat the compression pressure check on these cylinders.

Compression Test—Interpreting Compression Readings

1. If compression improves considerably, piston rings are faulty.

2. If compression does not improve, valves are sticking or seating incorrectly.

3. If two adjacent cylinders indicate low compression pressures and squirting oil on each piston does not increase compression, the head gasket may be leaking between cylinders. Engine oil or coolant in cylinders could result from this condition.
Use the Compression Pressure Limit Chart when checking cylinder compression so that the lowest reading is within 75 percent of the highest reading.
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Compression Testing Procedure

Last edited by jbrew; 09-19-2013 at 03:38 PM. Reason: Fixed!
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:49 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Burleson/Athens/Brownsboro, TX
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very nice wrtieup, Jim. I copied it to the Articles and How To section and indexed it. Thanks so much for a nice contribution in addition to all the info you dish out to members.
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