If your engine is knocking at you, it is trying to get your attention to let you know that you are having piston problems. One of the most common causes of knocking, also called piston slap, is worn and failing connecting rod bearings. A common failure in the bearing of connecting rods, also called "conrods", is an engine that is low on oil causing metal on metal contact. During normal engine operation, a thin film of engine oil runs through the crankshaft oil journals to lubricate engine parts that operate at high temperatures to prevent metal on metal contact. If your engine oil is low, these bearings can ride directly against the crankshaft causing excessive wear and eventually failure.
What connecting rod bearings are all about.
Connecting rods are the engine component that connects your crankshaft to your pistons. A thin metal bearing, similar to the main bearings, sits between the rod and the rod cap. Connecting rods started as an element of steam engines to turn the rotating motion of a steam turbine into reciprocal motion. In the modern internal combustion engine, these rods are used to turn the reciprocal motion of combustion into rotating motion to turn the crankshaft and thus power the engine. Rod bearings can be made of many different materials, but are mostly made of aluminum. Some connecting rod bearings have a copper lining also.
A little elbow grease goes a long way.
If you need to replace your connecting rod bearings, you are probably looking at a complete engine rebuild; however, it is possible to only replace the bearings without completely tearing apart your whole engine. Unless you have experience rebuilding engines, you should leave this to a professional mechanic. If you have experience rebuilding engines, or you have an older vehicle, with the correct tools, you can replace your own connecting rod bearings. First you would want to drain the engine oil and remove the oil pan. Next, rotate the offending piston and rod into the down position. Unbolt the rod cap and tap it gently with a hammer or soft mallet to free it from the rod. Then tap the connecting rod bolts gently with a hammer or soft mallet to push the piston up into the cylinder. Remove and replace the bearings. Place a thread of Plastigage between the bearing and crankshaft. At this point, you can move the crank shaft so it connects with the piston and re-bolt the rod cap using manufacturer recommended torque settings. Finally, to ensure that your crush measurement is within specifications, unbolt everything again and measure the Plastigage. If everything is up to specs, bolt it all back together.
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