How To Clean Piston Rings Without Removing

Internal combustion engines generate energy when the spark plugs fire the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. Consistent spark firing on the combustion chamber forms carbon residues on top of the pistons and the head of the valves.

Over time, these carbon deposits will cause strange engine noise, reduced fuel economy, and reduced engine power. But that’s not all. In a worst-case scenario, the hot vapor from the engine oil will gunk the carbon deposits. This will invariably affect the piston rings, and the only way to make it function well again is to clean it. Walk with me while I explain how to clean piston rings without removing them.

cleaning pistons through spark plug hole

Cleaning piston rings without removing it

The best way of cleaning your piston rings is to clean them when they are out of the engine. But the thing is, you don’t have to dismantle your engine because you want to clean the piston rings. That’s a “hell lot” of work.

Instead, I’ll show you three different methods on how to clean piston rings without removing the engine. But keep in mind, these methods will not give you 100% cleanliness.

Method 1: Pour Injector cleaner on the pistons

This is the fastest method on how to clean piston rings without removing on motorcycles and cars. Take off the ignition coils or lead plug wires and remove the plugs on the engine. Pour a small amount of injector cleaner into the spark plug holes. Let the engine sit for 8 to 10 hours to soak the piston and rings. After that, crank the engine for 3 to 5 seconds without putting in the spark plugs.

Repeat this step. This will push out the injector cleaner you poured into the plug holes earlier. Reinstall the plugs and every other thing you removed.

You can use any piston ring carbon cleaner for this task. But remember, cleaning pistons through spark plug holes will not give you a thorough cleaning. But at least, it will unstick the piston rings and make the engine run smoothly.

Method 2: Engine flush

A more hands-on approach to cleaning your engine piston rings without removing them is by flushing the engine. Engine flush will loosen and remove sludges, varnishes, or gums in the engine. Here’s how to flush the engine.

  • Drain 1 quart of engine oil.
  • Lock the oil sump and pour the oil engine flush additive into the engine
  • Run the engine for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Now, drain the engine oil as you would do during a normal oil change
  • Remove the old oil filter and install a new one
  • Pour in clean engine oil, and you are good to go.

If you were asking, will the engine flush clean piston rings? Now you know. However, there are several ways of flushing your car engine. 

Method 3: Using fuel injector cleaners

While method 1 and 3 involves the use of fuel injector cleaners, they are not the same.

As I said earlier, the fuel injector cleaner can dislodge the sludge, varnishes, and gums on the piston rings if it comes in contact with it.

Pour a full can of fuel injector into a half tank of gasoline before filling the other half of the fuel tank. After that, run your car as you would normally do. It will clean any part of your gas engine it comes in contact with, such as the valves, pistons, and pumps.

how to clean piston rings without removing engine

Some Mechanics and Car Users Discussions 

I understand that most folks like engaging in forum discussions to get many mechanics’ and car users’ opinions tailored directly to their specific vehicles. But one problem with forum discussions is that you only get direct answers to the questions.

I have provided three different methods on how to clean piston rings without dropping and dismantling the engine. One of the methods involves flushing the engine to clean piston rings. You can engage with this Quora discussion to see other mechanics’ and car users’ opinions on this.

Another method is using fuel additives. In method 1 and 3, I talked about using fuel additives. You can engage with this Bobistheoilguy discussion to see other mechanics’ and car users’ opinions. But keep in mind the discussion here is based on method 3.

What exactly should you use to clean a coked piston ring? Many people have used different products and have different results. Here are some recommendations from other mechanics and car users in the CarTalk Community. And if you are asking, will seafoam clean piston rings? Check out my answer on Quora and other car users’ opinions.

will engine flush clean piston rings

Read More: How to Clean Pistons Without Removing Cylinder Head

What should I use to clean my piston rings?

There are several piston ring cleaner additives in the market. The best piston ring cleaner you should use depends on the method you want to use in cleaning the pistons. If you want to use fuel injector cleaners (method 1 or 3 above), I recommend using one of the following.

  • Liqui Moly 2030 Pro-line gasoline system cleaner
  • Lucas oil fuel treatment
  • K&N performance fuel system cleaner
  • STP fuel system cleaner and stabilizer
  • Royal blue atomizer fuel injector cleaner

But if you want to clean the piston rings by flushing the engine, I recommend using any of the following products.

  • Liqui moly engine flush
  • CRC engine flush
  • Lubegard engine flush
  • Atomex engine flush.

Does the engine flush clean piston rings?

An engine flush circulates flush additives through the engine to loosen sludges, gunks, and buildups in the engine. This will remove some of the gunk out of the engine and make the pistons move better but it won’t do a thorough cleaning on the piston rings.

Engine flush also:

  • Improve oil flow by releasing sticky valves and piston rings
  • Remove harmful sludge and other contaminants
  • Clean out minuscule particles that the oil filter misses.

However, the best way to clean the piston rings is to dismantle the engine and physically clean the piston ring grooves.

How do you remove carbon from pistons?

The best way to clean engine pistons is to remove them before cleaning. To do this:

  • Remove the pistons from the engine
  • Put them in a bowl and soak them with any engine parts cleaner.
  • Let it sit for 2 to 4 hours
  • Brush off the carbon residues with a metal brush
  • Take off the piston rings and clean the grooves properly
  • If there are still residues left, resoak the pistons again
  • Brush off the stubborn residues with a metal brush or smooth sandpaper.

Does kerosene remove carbon?

Yes, kerosene can remove carbon deposits. Pour the kerosene into a bowl, put the engine parts you want to soak into it, and let it sit for 2 hours or more. After that, scrub off the carbon on the engine parts using a metal brush or smooth sandpaper. But if the carbon is too much and stubborn, I recommend using gas tank injection-chemical.

What is the best solution to clean rings?

There are various solutions and methods of cleaning piston rings. However, my best solution is to remove the spark plugs, pour in an effective fuel injector cleaner, and let it sit for 8 to 10 hours so it can dislodge the gunks, sludges, and carbons on the pistons and rings. After that, crank the engine without the plugs to push out the loose gunk and the cleaner. The next thing is reinstalling the plugs and other things you removed earlier.

But remember, the keyword here is effective fuel injector cleaner. I advise you to get one of the engine cleaners listed in this article. These cleaners are customer-centric and budget-friendly.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

5 thoughts on “How To Clean Piston Rings Without Removing

  1. Hey Cosmos, thanks for reaching out.

    Its likely going to work. But keep in mind, this is not an expert opinion as I do not work chainsaw machines.

  2. What of a chainsaw machine is it possible to clean out the carbon without removing the piston?

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