How To Test The Engine Compression (Chrysler 2.0L, 2.4L)

Doing a compression test on your 2.0L (SOHC/DOHC) or 2.4L (SOHC/DOHC) has now become an easy thing! This tutorial will show you how to do the engine compression test and more importantly, how to interpret the results of the compression readings you're gonna' get from the compression tester.

This article is geared towards solving a misfire condition (with or without codes: P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304) or a rough idle condition, although if your vehicle does not start, this info still applies.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar la Compresión del Motor (Chrysler 2.0L, 2.4L) (at:

Tools You'll Need:

  1. Compression gauge tester
  2. Engine oil
  3. A helper
  4. Pen and paper

Important Tips And Suggestions

TIP 1: If your 2.0L or 2.4L Chrysler vehicle cranks and starts then it's best to do the compression test with a slightly warmed up engine.

This is because as the engine warms up, all of it's metal moving parts (like piston rings, valves) expand with the heat the engine is creating. This will have an effect (however small) on your compression tester reading.

If the engine doesn't start then don't worry about this, since you'll still be able to get a compression test result you can use.

TIP 2: You'll need a helper to crank the engine for you, while you eye-ball the compression tester. My suggestion to your helper wait outside the vehicle till you're done setting up the test. Once the test is done, ask you helper to wait outside again. This will help you to avoid having him or her accidentally crank the engine while you're setting up the test.

Symptoms Of Low Or No Engine Compression

When only one engine cylinder is affected with low or no engine compression, you'll feel a miss (misfire) and you can usually bet that the PCM will set a misfire trouble code:

  1. P0300: Random Cylinder Misfire.
  2. P0301: Cylinder #1 Misfire.
  3. P0302: Cylinder #2 Misfire.
  4. P0303: Cylinder #3 Misfire.
  5. P0304: Cylinder #4 Misfire.

Unfortunately the PCM won't always set a misfire code to tell you which cylinder is the one that's missing.

The next common scenario is having Low or No engine compression on two engine cylinders. When this happens, the engine in your car will crank but not start. This usually indicates a blown head gasket.

If a blown head gasket is a concern then take a look at this tutorial I've written: How To Test For A Blown Head Gasket (Chrysler 2.0L, 2.4L).

When you have a situation where you have NO compression on ALL 4 cylinders, you'll see:

  1. When you crank the engine over, it cranks very fast and this fast cranking speed is very noticeable.
  2. You'll have spark (in every cylinder), so you know it's not an ignition system issue.
  3. The fuel injectors spray fuel.
    1. You can confirm this with a Noid light test.
    2. Also, you can confirm this, although indirectly, by removing the spark plugs and checking to see if they are fuel soaked (fuel fouled).
  4. The most common causes of this scenario, are:
    1. Blown head gasket.
    2. Broken timing belt (which is the most common scenario).
    3. Engine thru' a rod.

Now, hopefully you don't have any of the above conditions affecting the engine in your car but there's only one way to find, so let's get testing.