How to remove rust from cylinder walls

Written by c.l. rease
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How to remove rust from cylinder walls
Rust-free cylinder walls keep an engine running smoothly. (chrome engine image by Thomas Czeizinger from

Rusted cylinder walls cause premature wear of piston rings and eventual engine failure. Numerous methods exist for removing rust from cylinder walls, but only one method guarantees a like-new finish to cylinder walls. Honing removes rust from cylinder walls using an abrasive globule attached to flexible filaments. The honing stones grind imperfections, including rust, from the cylinder walls, while applying a 45-degree cross-hatch to the cylinder walls. This optimises the life span of piston rings and keeps oil from bypassing the rings due to cylinder wall imperfections.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ball-style hone
  • 3/8-inch drill motor
  • Penetrating oil
  • Scouring pad
  • Clean lint-free rag
  • SAE 30 motor oil
  • Air compressor

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  1. 1

    Secure the arbor of a ball-style hone in the chuck of a 3/8-inch drill motor.

  2. 2

    Spray the inside of the cylinder wall with penetrating oil. Scrub the inside of the cylinder wall with a scouring pad to remove loose particles of rust.

  3. 3

    Wipe the cylinder wall with a clean lint-free rag. Spray another coat of penetrating oil onto the cylinder wall. Inspect the cylinder wall for remaining rust and scaling. If you see any rust or scaling, scrub the cylinder wall a second time with the scouring pad. Wipe the inside of the cylinder wall clean with a lint-free rag.

  4. 4

    Coat the ball-style hone with SAE 30 motor oil. Insert the hone into the cylinder and depress the trigger of the drill motor to spin the hone. Push the hone to the bottom of the cylinder and then pull it back toward you. Repeat the process for 30 seconds.

  5. 5

    Remove the hone from the cylinder. Clean the cylinder wall with a lint-free rag. Run a finger along the cylinder wall. If the cylinder wall feels rough, add more SAE 30 motor oil to the ball-style hone and continue working the hone up and down the cylinder.

  6. 6

    Remove the film left by the ball-hone by spraying penetrating oil into the cylinder and wiping the cylinder clean with a lint-free rag.

  7. 7

    Blow out the cylinder with an air compressor to complete the process of rust removal from the cylinder wall.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from the metal shavings produced during the honing process.

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