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how hard is it to do your own piston rings?


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I took my DRZ400E (2001) into the stealership to have it leak down tested.

They tell me I have a 35% leak through the pistons, but the intake and exhaust are holding pressure well.

They are quoteing me over 1500 in repair costs (rate here is 160/hr ๐Ÿ˜ )

So my question, I have a suzuki repair manual, how hard is it for me to do this my self?

Keep in mind im kinda newb, and would have to learn as I go, but is it a hope in hell or should I pay the 1500? (Currently waiting on a quote from the city 5 hours away, but transportation costs would bring it up to 1500 anyway)

I don't have enough money to buy a brand new bike. So its either repair this one by them, my self or scrap it....

Any advice?

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If you have a bit of mechanical aptitude and are willing to go slow and research it then its likely you can do it. Takes me about two hours - but you would need to budget a couple of days with all preparations in place. Basically your taking the head off and replacing the rings in addition to any combination of piston/cylinder (or rebore/plate) and whatever else you find happening in there. Of course you need all new gaskets and the correct tools which in this case is primarily a socket set and torque wrench in addition to more common tools.

If you have a little spare coin I would recommend installing a JE 94mm piston and matching cylinder works cylinder (about $350 all up) while you are in there rather than getting a rebore etc. I much prefer the JE piston and rings over the stock part.

Learning how to work on your own engine is very rewarding not to mention saving huge cost and being reliant on some one else - but its not for everyone of course.

If bluetack is your idea of high tech on the other hand then get someone else to do it, but not at some hole that charges $160/hr!

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Eddy the bike runs (My problem was I installed the kick starter decompresser release lever wrong they told me)

They said it runs now, but the leak down is 35% and it will need to be fixed, but it currently runs.

I have so far done all the fixes and stuff to the DRZ my self as I learned, made some mistakes but things came along. I have not gotten to the valves yet, they wouldn't tell me if they are in spec becuase they want to charge me another 2 hours to do that ONTOP of the 6 hours they quoted me for the piston fix. I know im getting screwed here, which is why I wanna see if its possible to do it my self..

I called the nearest city for an estimate, but its a 5 hour drive away, so I mean once you factor in hotel and gas nad stuff going to be pretty much the same price (shop rate there is 99/hr) waiting on that quote.

Where I live everything is incredibly expensive becuase its an Oil town and everyone is rich, cept me, cuz I work for the Hospital.. haha.

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What do you recommend I ask them?

All I konw is he said "There is no leak through the intake and exhaust but it is leaking past the pistons" he said it was a 35% leak and spec max is 26%.

He said it starts easly and runs well but he thinks the vavles need to be done.

Don'tw anna get hosed, but at the same time, if I do have a major leak I don't wanna have the bike die 10Kms from home ๐Ÿ˜

I should also mention before I installed the kick starter the bike ran and started fine with only slight starting problems after a crash. They told me the main reason the bike wouldn't start was cuz I set the cable on the decompressor lever wrong

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+1 to what he said ^^

If you decide to do the work anyways, do it yourself. You'll learn so when it comes time to do it again(eventually), you'll know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it.

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Using it 99% trail runner, only time it see's the road is to cross it or go get gas.

I was thinking of giving it blinkers and stuff so it would be legal for small trips around town to other off road areas, but no long ass road hauls, not the tires for it!

Hopefully tomorrow they will return the bike to me, and I think I might take it into the kawasaki dealership and ask them to do a leak down tes with out giving them any history, just to see what they say.

The problem with riding it till it drops, is I do ALOT of offroad deep in the bush and pushing 400 pounds 10kms sucks.. hehe. ๐Ÿ˜

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I think your stealer is just that , a stealer and is trying to make money out of you . Is the bike using oil ? is the bike blowing smoke ? does fresh oil go dark ( contaminated by blow-by ) quickly ? Is it running ? I would do what eddie and noble have said and keep riding it . I cannot believe thay want 2 hours labour to check valve clearances , they would have the tank off of it anyway , so It would take 15 mins to find out how they are . If you do decide to get it ringed , it can be done at home by yourself with the right tools . There are a few tutorials on it , so do some reading it can save you a lot of money , greg

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Yeh thats what I'm thinking, which is why I came to you guys ๐Ÿ˜

When I go tit from PO I dropped oil and refilled, and after a month of riding (real slow trail riding etc) it didn't drop at all.. the oil still looked ok to me when I dropped it to instal kick starte rand didn't smell of gas or anything taht I noticed.

I never noticed any smoke out of the bike exhaust ever, only time I ever saw anything like smoke is when I boiled it over hehe.

I'm told it runs now from the stealership, but they never called me back today to come pick up the bike, so I'm going to head over tomorrow to go see it and see personally if it runs, I am going to get them to give it back and start reading up and see if I cannot do the pistons my self, and as perviously mentinoed going to take it to the kawi stealership to just do another leak down test just to see i fthey tell me the sAMe thing.

I think your stealer is just that , a stealer and is trying to make money out of you . Is the bike using oil ? is the bike blowing smoke ? does fresh oil go dark ( contaminated by blow-by ) quickly ? Is it running ? I would do what eddie and noble have said and keep riding it . I cannot believe thay want 2 hours labour to check valve clearances , they would have the tank off of it anyway , so It would take 15 mins to find out how they are . If you do decide to get it ringed , it can be done at home by yourself with the right tools . There are a few tutorials on it , so do some reading it can save you a lot of money , greg
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Seriously, DRZ's last a long time. Don't just take it apart because someone was blowing smoke up your... "Ride it till it drops" is just a figure of speech. Warn piston rings give plenty of warning. Not a sudden failure. Hundreds of things can happen to stop a bike in its tracks but warn piston rings is not one of them. The best thing you can do is go for a 50 mile ride with a buddy and see how it performs.

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Cool, I hope it is running, sadly I'm working nights tonight so by the time I wake up and get the DRZ I will have missed my buddy who is going down to the city for a rally race this weekend and invited me. ๐Ÿ˜

What should I watch out for with respect to wearing pistons?

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Well I nkow it doesn't seem to be burning oil at the moment, as for power loss I'm not sure as I got it 10 years used hahah ๐Ÿ˜

Can you feel the blow by in the breather tube if I put it upagainst my arm hair or something? I assume it shouldn't be blowing out at all if it was mint?

Thanks so much for the advice. Hope to get 'er going again as it is very very fun haha. but you know that already...

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Im pretty sure it will use oil if the rings are going... And if you do have to get them done, try doing it yourself. Im 16 with no mechanical experiance at all, and nothing but way to much time and a manual, and Ive learned so much more stuff about my bike just by pulling the engine out and taking a peeksie inside... Go slow and triple check everything, what can go wrong?

Also 160$ an hour is crazy! The shop I took my bike to when I still had money charged something like 60$ / hour for all atvs and bikes, It was'nt a dealership but who cares?

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