The purpose of this test is to evaluate the performance of each cylinder based on the electrical load placed on the starter motor during the compression stroke.
Connection for diagnostic work will vary dependent on application.
Technicians should whenever possible gain access to the test circuit without damage to seals and insulation. If this is not possible then make sure appropriate repairs are completed.
General connection advice
PicoScope offers a range of options within the test kits.
Dependent on difficulty of access, choose from:
Testing sensors and actuators (to include relevant circuit/connectors):
The waveform shows the current drawn by the starter motor whilst the motor is turning the engine.
The initial high current spike is what is required to overcome static friction. This drops to the cranking level and then each peak in the sawtooth section of the waveform represents a piston on compression.
It is the comparative height of the peaks that indicates the relative compression of each cylinder.
This PicoScope test is a very useful tool to help decisions to be made regarding further time consuming work.
It is essential to the running of the engine that it has sufficient compression. The compression provided by the rising piston will be determined by the swept volume being compressed into the combustion area, the compression ratio. The compression is also determined by the effectiveness of the seal between the cylinder wall and the piston, this seal is maintained by the piston rings. The same applies to the seating of both the inlet and exhaust valves.
Piston rings are made of centrifugally spun cast iron, which produces a radial pressure, forming the seal. Cast iron is also used for its excellent self-lubricating properties.
If a relative compression waveform highlights a problem, it will be necessary to perform a compression test.
A low compression can be caused by.
All readings should be similar. If one is lower than the others a wet test can be performed by squirting a small amount of oil into the cylinder and re-testing the compression. The inclusion of the oil improves the seal between the piston and the bore, so if the compression is regained the fault lies within the piston rings. If very little difference has been made, the fault lies within the valves.
There should not be more than 25% difference between the highest and lowest compression readings.
The amperage required to crank the engine depends on many factors including, engine capacity, number of cylinders, oil viscosity, starter and circuit condition and of course the compression in the cylinders.
The compressions can be compared against each other by comparing the current required to push each cylinder up on its compression stroke. It is therefore important that the current draw on each cylinder is equal.
This help topic is subject to changes without notification. The information within is carefully checked and considered to be correct. This information is an example of our investigations and findings and is not a definitive procedure. Pico Technology accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Each vehicle may be different and require unique test settings.
We know that our PicoScope users are clever and creative and we’d love to receive your ideas for improvement on this test. Click the Add comment button to leave your feedback.
henk van der Burg
November 27 2017
I wonder if the sync signal could also be added to Pico Diagnostic relative Compression test to synchronize on cylinder (firing) order and make the relative compression values cylinder specific.
September 29 2016
Adding a sync source on another channel (ie: inductive sync probe, ignition coil trigger signal, ignition coil current ramp, etc) adds a significant amount of helpful information.