In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to test the engine compression on the 4.2L equipped 2002-2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy.
The engine compression test will help you to troubleshoot a hard to diagnose misfire condition and its accompanying misfire trouble code.
The compression test will also help you to troubleshoot a no start condition if its due to internal engine problems.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar La Compresión Del Motor (2002-2009 4.2L Chevrolet TrailBlazer) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
Important Tips And Suggestions
TIP 1: The spark plugs have to be removed from the engine to test its compression. It's important that you do not remove the spark plugs from a hot engine.
If the engine has been running for any length of time, on your 4.2L Chevrolet TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy, you need to let it cool down for at least an hour before attempting to remove the spark plugs.
Attempting to remove the spark plugs from a hot engine can damage the threads in the spark plug holes. This is a nightmare you want to avoid.
TIP 2: If you find that the spark plugs are swimming in engine oil, as you are removing them from their spark plug tubes, you'll need to replace the valve cover gasket.
If the spark plugs are soaked in engine oil, it's important to replace them with new ones.
If the spark plug boots on the ignition coils, are soaked in engine oil, it's important to replace them too.
Which Compression Tester Should I Buy?
There are lot of engine compression testers to choose from and many places to buy them. I'm gonna' make two recommendations to you:
1) Which one to buy: The engine compression tester that I have always used is the Actron CP7827 Compression Tester Kit. My only complaint about this engine compression tester is that it does not come with a case to store it in.
Engine Compression Gauge Testers
2) Where to buy: You can buy an engine compression tester just about anywhere, but you'll end up paying more for it (especially at your local auto parts store). The above links will help you comparison shop. I think you'll agree it's the better way to save money on the compression tester!
TEST 1: Dry Compression Test
I have divided the compression test into two parts. In this first part we're going to test the compression of all 6 cylinders.
In the second part, which is in the next page, we're going to test only the cylinders that have low engine compression.
Depending on the amount of wear and tear and mileage on your 4.2L engine, you're going to see that some of the cylinders have compression values that are lower than the majority.
Up to a certain point this is normal since engine cylinders do not wear out at the exact same rate. Figuring out if these compression values are causing a problem is not hard and I'll explain how to find out.
Let's get testing:
Remove the spark plugs.
When removing the spark plugs, be careful not to drop any of them on the floor, or you run the risk of having the spark plugs porcelain insulator crack and then you'll have a misfire on your hands.
Thread the engine compression gauge into the spark plug hole for the number 1 engine cylinder. Hand tighten the compression gauge only! Do not use any type of tool to get it tight.
Have your helper crank the engine till the needle on the compression gauge stops climbing.
Record the value at which the needle stopped and the number of the engine cylinder on a piece of paper.
Repeat steps 2-4 on the remaining cylinders.
Let's take a look at what your compression test results mean:
CASE 1: You got 0 PSI in the majority of the cylinders. This tells you that your Chevy TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy's engine has serious internal problems. This is usually due to:
- Busted timing chain.
- Engine threw a rod.
Any compression value below 100 PSI (even if it's not 0 PSI) means internal mechanical engine trouble.
CASE 2: All cylinders have compression but their values are not the same. It's normal for each cylinder's compression value to vary slightly from one another. But if they vary too much, you'll have a bona-fide misfire or rough idle condition on your hands.
To find out, the next step is to go to: Calculating The Compression Values To See If They Are Within Range.