The purpose of this test is to evaluate the cylinder efficiency of a petrol engine throughout 720 degrees of the crankshaft rotation at idle speed.
Please note that the Pico standard compression hose used for this test does not contain a Schrader valve. Therefore, the rise and fall in cylinder pressures will be recorded relative to the crankshaft position.
Note: Cylinder efficiency is dependent upon engine speed, adequate intake and exhaust flow, the correct valve timing and the mechanical condition of the engine.
All numerical readings quoted in this help topic are typical and not specific to all engine styles
Note: Engines with Variable Valve Lift will produce waveforms with characteristics varying from the examples below.
All values obtained below with the WPS500X are referenced to Gauge pressure.
We advise you to recharge your WPS500X after use to ensure it is ready for future measurements.
During the various stages of crankshaft rotation, cylinder pressures may be either positive or negative.
For the purpose of this test:
Atmospheric pressure = 0 bar
Any value above 0 bar = Positive pressure
Any value below 0 bar = Negative pressure (vacuum)
All values are typical and not specific to all vehicle types.
Channel A indicates the rise and fall in-cylinder pressure with the engine at idle speed.
Refer to vehicle technical data for specific test conditions and results.
Peak cylinder pressure is achieved as the piston ascends the cylinder during the compression stroke. (Intake and exhaust valves closed).
Using the Signal Rulers (marker 1) we reveal the cylinder compression peaks at 3.967 bar which appears low but quite normal given the throttle is closed and starving the engine of airflow (low air intake = low compression). However, we can now see repeated, even and symmetrical compression towers as the crankshaft rotates and more importantly, events taking place between compressions that could never be visible with a compression tester. Marker 2 denotes 0 bar (atmospheric pressure) where the cylinder pressure should remain from approximately 180 to 360 degrees of crankshaft rotation during the exhaust stroke
NB! Peak cylinder pressure of the compression stroke can be considered as Top Dead Centre (TDC)
At the base of each compression tower during the expansion stroke, you can see the expansion pocket (marker 5) dropping below 0 bar, indicating the cylinder pressure to momentarily drop to negative (vacuum). This indicates adequate sealing of both intake and exhaust valves that should remain closed as the piston descends down the cylinder towards the end of the power stroke, referred to here as the expansion stroke as there is no combustion. Valve timing, the integrity of the piston compression rings and cylinder face, can also be confirmed by looking at the expansion pocket. You can measure the depth of the expansion pocket (and so the vacuum level) with the signal ruler (marker 5) and the value displayed in the ruler legend (marker 4) at -698.6 mbar.
At approximately 360 degrees of crankshaft rotation, you can see the commencement of the intake pocket dropping below 0 bar indicating the cylinder pressure to now fall into a vacuum. This indicates adequate sealing of the exhaust valve that will now close as the piston descends the cylinder during the intake stroke. Valve timing, the integrity of the air intake, piston compression rings and cylinder face, can also be confirmed by looking at intake pocket. The depth of the intake pocket (the vacuum level) can be measured with the signal ruler (marker 5) and the value displayed in the ruler legend (marker 4) at -698.6 mbar.
In most petrol engines at idle speed (throttle closed) the depth (vacuum level) of the expansion pocket is equal to the depth of the intake pocket. Identified here by the signal ruler (marker 5)
Engine speed (= Frequency x 60)
You can use the time rulers (marker 8) placed at the 0-degree rotation ruler and 360-degree rotation partition, to measure and display the engine speed. The time it took (frequency in Hz) for the crankshaft to rotate 360 degrees (measured by the time rulers) is multiplied by 60 to reveal the engine speed where the value (719 RPM) will be displayed in the Frequency / RPM legend (marker 9).
The rotation rulers are used to denote 0 to 720 degrees of rotation about the captured cylinder pressure waveform. Given that peak cylinder pressure occurs at TDC of the compression stroke, positioning the rotation rulers at two consecutive compression peaks/towers will denote 0–720 degrees of crankshaft rotation relative to TDC / peak compression.
Based on our knowledge of the four stroke cycle, we know the events that should take place between the rotation rulers at 0 and 720 degrees (TDC Compression to TDC Compression). To make the diagnosis easier, you can divide the distance between 0 and 720 degrees into four equal divisions. This will reveal the position of the crankshaft at key stages throughout the four-stroke cycle (TDC and BDC). When you know the position of the crankshaft, you can identify each of the four-stroke cycles between compression events and attributing anomalies found to specific four-stroke events/activities.
You can read more about Compression testing and find our troubleshooter for compression testing on our training page.
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.