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Piston ring and head gasket replacement

Ive had both the piston rings and head gasket replaced on my 96 civic. This isnt for high end upgrades or anuthing just because i need to pass smog and both needed replaced. Im being told that once i get my car i should drive slow for 100 miles before i take it to smog. Ive read many different opinions on seating the rings but all are for people upgrading thier car im sure i just got normal replacements. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Did they do anything to the block, or just put in rings?

The mechanic just yold me he replaced the rings after he seen oil all over them while working to fix gasket


Any ring break-in will occur inside of 5 miles. Just running a hone through the cylinders and replacing the rings does carry some risk with it and if there’s any issues now it won’t be because of ring seating.

I think your mechanic’s advise should be followed. Who would know better than the person who did the job. It’s just 100 miles after all. Sometimes a special kind of oil is recommended for the break in period. Folks here have said manufacturers put a special kind of oil in their new cars too, prior to shipment to the dealers, so they break in properly. Good idea to ask you shop if that’s worthwhile. But for the first 100 miles, I’d do exactly what the shop recommended.

To break in the piston rings, start the engine and let it come up to operating temperature.

Find a place where you can drive the vehicle at 30 MPH and then rapidly accelerate to 50 MPH and then back down to 30 MPH.

Doing this for five minutes will properly break in the piston rings.


For my own education: Could the 100 miles be needed so the car’s computer can “re-learn”, so as to pass emissions test? Would that apply for a '96 Civic?

(My “maturing” memory telescopes time. I have to remind myself that my '04 Camry is now an older vehicle, and that a '96 is, after all, 20 years old. And I can’t remember if daughter’s '94 Taurus had plug-in emissions test or treadmill.)


A 96 Civic is an OBDII engine management system.

So most of the readiness monitors need to be reset before the vehicle will pass emissions testing.


smog issues and bad headgasket? I have no idea what mechanic said was wrong with motor. Coolant loss? Low compression between adjacent cylinders? Low compression? New rings may help compression issues. Might help oil burning. So will boring clyinders and installing new Pistons. Did he rule out head issues? Valve seats? Worn guides? And so on.

Yeah, ‘putting in new rings’ is a real odd thing to decide to do AFTER the head is off. No compression test? And putting new rings in requires dropping the pan and getting the piston by the ridge that may have been created in the cylinder. Lots of work based on next to no diagnosis.

We, along with the OP have no idea what preliminary tests were done to determine that the rings needed to be replaced. All we have is what the OP said that the mechanic said, and that could be open to interpretation too.

Lets not judge the mechanic so harshly.
With these comments the OP is steered toward thinking that the mechanic did the job all wrong and he may have done a perfectly good job.


Coolant in the catalyst would cause a fail on a tail pipe emissions test and I wouldn’t want to guess how long it would take to burn off the coolant, replacing the catalytic converter would likely be necessary. And I question a shop’s judgement in replacing the rings especially when they say that the presence of oil made it necessary.

The mechanic saw oil all over the rings as he was working to replace the headgasket?
I suspect there’s a misunderstanding between the OP and the mechanic. The descriptions of what was done and why just seem a bit “off” to me.
And if there is someone out there doing “ring jobs” without honing the cylinders (as a minimum), I’d be surprised. New rings aren’t gonna seat properly without cylinder work.

I emphasize that I do not criticize the OP, but I think there might have been some miscommunication or misunderstanding.

I forgot what the original question was but I replaced the rings in a riding mower once with chrome rings that you were not supposed to have to hone the cylinder for. I dunno I really didn’t notice much difference in the smoke after that and replaced the engine. I guess I’d just do as Tester and the mechanic suggested but don’t be too hopeful of the results and check the oil level often.

The piston rings of the last 35 years don’t really need a break in period. A couple of trips for a few miles might do it. The old hard rings would need some time but the rings of today are malleable and work well right away.


Texases stole the thought from my head…Dont quote me here but… Methinks something is rotten in Denmark with this… “Repair”. But thats just me.


Interesting article & I can believe it . I rebuilt an engine in one of my service trucks & told the driver assigned to that truck to run it easy for a while . My uncle was one of my employees & a foreman on a construction site . When the truck & crew came in from the trucks first day out of the shop my uncle said , you must have done a good job rebuilding that engine .
When I asked him why , he said the driver drove straight to the job site , got stuck in the mud & honed the crap out of it trying to get unstuck which he finally did . That engine ran great for as long as I had that truck .

I did not read the entire tale on that link as it’s just too gaudy and time consuming. However, I will say the guy’ comment “Why” and the ensuing paragraph about ring tension and compression pressures on a running engine are way, way off-base.