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Re: how can a piston break or what causes it to break
If you changed the heads you should have gone that one more step and changed the pistons. sometimes if the heads arent mic ed right it causes a catch in the running position and causes the break. i assume the heads you put on were new and now salvage yard material??
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The Kia engine has two overhead camshafts that have to be properly aligned when installing the cylinder head. If you didn't get the timing marks on the cam pulleys as well as the crankshaft pulley lined up the valves will hit the pistons the first time you crank it over. If the valves hit the pistons, they will bend and no longer seal [no compression]. For instance, if the timing belt breaks while the engine is running here is a picture of the result [also no compression]:
From the next picture you can see how close the valves are to the pistons:
The video is from a very similar engine
Did you triple check that your timing was correct and that none of the pistons where damaged since that is an interference engine, meaning that f the timing belt breaks or in your case the cam broke (other half stopped moving), the piston may have ran into the valve causing damage to the valve and possibly the piston.
Rocker arm issues are common in that car. They can happen without any reason. This is not going to be cheap to look at. When the head was repaired it had to be removed. The timing chain might not have been properly tensioned. That would cause the timing chain to slip and then you have pistons slapping valves and spark plugs. This cause rocker arms and pushrods to bend or break and also can damage pistons.
Absolutely !! That motor is probably an interference motor, meaning the valves must be closed when the piston is up or they will interfere with each other and break something - or several somethings!! I have repaired cylinder heads from interference motors that had a timing belt break - it cost 3 times the rebuild cost due to the extensive damage done when the timing belt broke. It would be considerably cheaper to have the belt changed than to have the head repaired or replaced, as modern heads are thin walled - they will break before older heads would. It could also damage a piston and,as you have hypereutectic pistons balanced by weight ( must be within a couple grams of each other ) 1 piston cannot be changed - they ALL have to be changed, an expensive oops for sure!!!
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Basically the timing belt connects the crankshaft with the two camshafts. This allows the valves to open allowing air into the engine at the right time. If the belt breaks then the crankshaft along with the piston and rod assembly will still move but the valves will be still. This can cause the piston to collide with the valves which can cause damage to the pistons, valves, and the entire head in some cases. There is a chance of nothing getting damage though. There are interference and free-wheeling engines. The difference is that free-wheeling engines has a space between the top of the piston and the bottom of the valve so if the belt did break then the valve would not hit the top of the piston
if you have dual over head cams and if your timing belts breaks u can cause valve or piston damage if its single over head cam there wont be any damage to any valves or pistons on those type of kia engines
they may of said it has bent valves not vent valves // when the belt breaks the valves can crash into the pistons causing damage either bent valves or even holes in top of the piston . take off the head and inspect for damage..