How Do I Detect Worn Cylinder Liners?

Written by marlon trotsky
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How Do I Detect Worn Cylinder Liners?
Cylinder liners are found in block engines in most cars, as well as tractor engines. (American v8 engine image by kenmo from

If you ever examine the interior of an engine closely, you will notice a cylindrical part embedded into the engine block that wraps around the piston. This part is the cylinder liner, or cylinder sleeve, and it has three primary functions: forming a sliding surface for the piston, transferring combustion heat to the coolant and sealing compressed gas and combustion gas to prevent it from leaking to the outside. Over time, the friction from the pistons eventually wears the liners down.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look for oval-shaped liners, which can be caused by the piston laterally pressing against the liner due to the motion of the crankshaft and connecting rod. You should also notice oval wear on the piston skirt.

  2. 2

    Check for water errosion, which results from water seeping in through the cylinder wall side. Metallic particles floating in the coolant can wear down the liner if you don't use antifreeze on a regular basis, allowing water to trickle into the cylinder.

  3. 3

    Examine the liners' surface closely for wear. On new liners, you will notice cross-hatched marks, which become eroded over time.

  4. 4

    Conduct a visual examination of the liner's interior. On new liners, you will notice cross-hatched honing marks, which become eroded over time, causing a decrease in power and efficiency. Run your fingers along the interior: if you don't feel the marks you should replace the liner. A worn liner will also have scoring or scratches along the interior of the liner. You may also notice a ridge forming near the top end of the liner.

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