What Causes No Compression In One Cylinder and Fixes

Your vehicle’s cylinder is a vital component that plays an essential role in the combustion process in the engine compartment; hence, it powers the vehicle’s engine to enable it to run efficiently.

If there happens to be no compression in one cylinder, you may face a severe challenge with running your car’s engine smoothly as it would misfire, among other symptoms.

Therefore, you need to look out for a blown head gasket and any other factor that could cause any of your car’s cylinders to experience no compression and the best possible way to fix the issue. The subsequent sessions of this article address those issues extensively.

What Causes No Compression In One Cylinder?

The following are some causes of no compression in one cylinder of your vehicle’s engine compartment.

how to fix no compression in one cylinder

Dropped valve

There are metal valve keepers in the similitude of two pieces of half-moon each that are responsible for holding the valve in place by locking into the valve retainer.

If there is a defect in these valve keepers, they may jump out of the retainer; then, creating room for the valve to fall (drop) into the cylinder and establish contact with the piston.

Dropped valve seat

Some cylinder heads are designed with aluminum, and they expand at different rates compared to the metal valve seat. The variance between the cylinder heads and the metal valve seat can make the seat fall out of the head.

If this happens, there will be no more compression in the cylinder because of the escape of air into the port of the valve.

Piston damage

Damaged or bad piston rings can be another reason why your car may experience no compression in one cylinder. The excessive heat that emits from a vehicle’s combustion chamber can lead to piston damage.

Once the piston is burnt, it will appear to be melted or having a hole burned through the piston’s top. Pre-ignition or detonation is usually the cause of this problem. 

Broken valve

The valve’s head is supposed to seal against the valve seat. If the valve is broken, the head may no longer align with the stem; therefore, the valve’s head will fall into the cylinder.

Once the valve’s head drops into the cylinder, the compression will necessarily leak from that cylinder, thereby causing severe damage to the cylinder head and the piston.

Broken valve spring

The valve spring is meant to close the exhaust valve and the intake once the camshaft opens them. Due to the passage of time, the valve spring is liable to break; once this happens, the valve will necessarily hang open, thereby resulting in compression leakage.

Meanwhile, if there is no compression in all cylinders, you may be having a broken timing belt or chain. Your car’s timing belt keeps the camshaft and the crankshaft in correlation.

If the timing belt breaks, the camshaft can no longer function as it ought; and the failure for the camshaft to rotate will alter the engine compression in all cylinders. A broken camshaft can also result in no engine compression in all cylinders. Therefore, if you have a broken timing chain endeavor to get it fixed by a mechanic.

What Happens If One Cylinder Goes Bad?

The following experiences let you know if one of your vehicle’s engine cylinders is bad.

no compression in one cylinder 2 stroke

Loss of power

If one cylinder goes bad among the components that enable your vehicle’s engine to run efficiently, you will experience recurrent engine misfires, Knocking and this can lead to a proportional loss of engine power.

If your vehicle’s engine has four cylinders and one of the cylinders misfires, it could lose up to 25 percent of its engine power.

Defective fuel consumption

Another occurrence you are likely going to experience is if one of your car’s cylinders has defective fuel consumption. Since the cylinders help to power the engine, the failure of one will affect the workload of the others to make up for the loss of power the engine suffers due to the failure of one cylinder.

The consequence of this extra workload taken by the other cylinders is that the car’s fuel economy becomes defective as more fuel will be consumed to power the engine.


If your vehicle shakes or vibrates while idling, one of the cylinders is likely bad. The failure of one cylinder can make your car idle below the normal speed and vibrate roughly when the engine is running.

It would be best to check out your car if you are experiencing any of these occurrences to ascertain whether you have one failed cylinder. If this is the case, you will need to get a professional auto mechanic to rectify the issue as soon as possible before the problem escalates.

How To Fix No Compression In One Cylinder?

If you are wondering how to fix no compression in one cylinder, here’s a way out to enable you to resolve the issue.

Firstly, test to ascertain whether there is no compression in one of the cylinders using a compression gauge. You need about 40 to 45 minutes for the test; therefore, make sure you have some spare time to do this.

After ascertaining that there is no compression in one of the cylinders, proceed to check out the cylinder, gasket, valves, and piston to enable you to find out if any of these components are broken or damaged. If you discover any damaged parts, kindly replace them.


Q: How do you diagnose a dead cylinder?

The following will help you diagnose a dead cylinder so that you can get it fixed if there are any.

Check your car’s spark plugs.

First and foremost, take a moment and unscrew one spark plug after the other and check out their insulator. If you discover that they are covered with thick deposits, then that may be the challenge because the spark cannot penetrate the plugs with the thick substance covering them.

After that, check out the spark plugs insulator’s external condition. If you find micro-cracks, it could also be a challenge that you need to rectify because the spark from the plugs can escape due to these micro-cracks.

Endeavor to inspect the inner insulator; you can locate it where it is screwed into the head of the cylinder. Also, examine the outer insulator upon which the cap of the armature wire is placed.

Check the high-voltage wires.

Your car’s high voltage wires can be loose due to harsh operating conditions, thereby resulting in the failure of a cylinder. They can also have micro-cracks due to poor labour.

The high-voltage wires can also be punctured by high discharge, thereby forming a streak of soot. This could make the spark from the plugs weak, resulting in the cylinder’s inability to work. To rectify this issue, kindly replace the defective wires.

Inspect the ignition coils.

Vehicles that use separate coils or ignition modules for each spark plug may require you to check their ignition coils because their failure can result in a dead cylinder.

If you discover any instability in the engine’s operation, you may have to remove the spark plugs’ cap one after the other to check whether they all have a spark between the components.

Q: Can you drive with no compression in one cylinder?

Yes, you may be able to drive with no compression in one cylinder; however, your car’s engine will experience some setbacks, such as engine misfire. Ultimately, your car’s engine will not run efficiently, even if you manage to start and drive your vehicle with no compression in one cylinder.

Instead of driving with no compression in one cylinder, it would be best to get the issue fixed by an auto mechanic. It would save you from lots of stress and frustration.

Q: How much does it cost to fix low compression in one cylinder?

The cost of fixing low compression in one cylinder is estimated at around $100 to $1000. The price may vary from one location and service provider to another. You may have to check out the outlet near you to verify the cost of fixing low compression in one cylinder. The major factor that determines the cost of fixing no compression in one cylinder is the cause of the misfire.

Q: Can you fix a dead cylinder?

Yes, a dead cylinder can be fixed by checking and rectifying any defective component that falls among some of the reasons that result in a dead cylinder; in order to fix a dead cylinder, you will have to diagnose the cylinder by using a compression gauge to test whether there are any cylinders with no compression.

The process takes about 45 minutes; hence, you need some free time to do this. If you do not have a compression gauge, kindly take your vehicle to an auto mechanic’s shop to test the compression.

If you discover a dead cylinder, you can check out the cylinder, valves, gasket, and piston to enable you to ascertain any damaged components. Once you find out the damaged parts that are responsible, kindly replace that component.

Q: Will an engine run with low compression?

It depends on the extent of low compression within the cylinders. If only one cylinder has a low compression problem, the engine may run but not efficiently. Therefore, driving with low compression in one cylinder is be possible.

However, in a situation where all the cylinders have low compression, your vehicle might not start at all. You will have to fix the problem before your car can start and work well under this condition.

Final Words

By now, it is established that although you may be able to drive your vehicle with no compression in one cylinder, you shouldn’t do so because you will consistently experience engine misfires. This can cause huge damage to your car’s engine if not rectified as soon as possible.

Some of the reasons why you experience no compression in at least one cylinder of your car’s engine have been discussed above in this article; it is your responsibility to ensure that you prevent those occurrences or rectify any that possibly occur. By this, you will keep your vehicle running efficiently for maximum satisfaction.

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.

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