Video: Piston Overheating Failure Analysis With Mahle Motorsports

Over the last several month, the folks at Mahle Motorsports have taken a proactive approach toward education of their customers by covering a number of piston-related topics on their YouTube channel.

In this episode, failure analysis of seizures due to piston overheating is the topic of interest. As one of the piston’s main functions is to take the heat from the combustion chamber and transfer it to the cooling system, it seems immense temperatures during operation. The cooling takes place through the piston rings, the piston skirt, the wristpin and even through to the oil.

An overheated piston will transfer material from the piston to the cylinder wall, as shown by the arrow.

An overheated piston will transfer material from the piston to the cylinder wall, as shown by the arrow.

When the conditions are optimal, the piston is able to maintain the correct piston-to-wall clearance, transfer the heat, and have enough lubrication to operate properly. But when the piston is overheated, the heat doesn’t transfer properly, as seen from the seizure marks in this photo. This is where material is transferred from the piston skirt to the cylinder walls, and spells death for the engine in its current configuration.


A number of other issues are also covered in the video, which is an informative watch well worth the four-minute investment. The folks at Mahle make hundreds of thousands of pistons a year for their OE and Motorsport customers, and analyzing the product when it fails is incredibly critical to learn the details of building products that will stand up to the abuse heaped on them. Check out the video for an educational session you’ll appreciate.

For more information on the complete line of products from Mahle Motorsports, check out their website.

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About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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