Question about 2001 Hyundai Elantra

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What is the cylinder compression psi fpr the 2.0 liter engine

Engine overheated looks like oil is leaking out from head gasket. Tested compression 3 cyls at 185 psi 1 at 150. dripped oil in the weak one and got 225 psi. what is the usual psi for this engine?

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I looked at the specs for your engine. compression, warm engine--cranking speed-- throttle open, 203--218 psi. cylinder variation--14 psi.

I agree with the other person, I don't know if this is a high-mileage engine or what, so your reading may not be that high. I didn't see min spec for compression. On engines where they give a min spec, they say, 100 psi, usually.
I just looked this up in a specification guide manual for your engine.

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Usual on 4 cylinder around 175psi.225psi is very high for your car,150psi seems ok,you may have two problems.A leaking head gasket and high compression due to carbon build up on the pistons.Check your Hyundai Dealer to see is this problem is covered under their 100,000 mile warranty,it should be.IF not then
the head needs to come off and had gasket replaced along with clean the top of pistons since they are right there,sounds like and easy fix.also check condition of radiator,and I would rec. replacing thermostat since some Hyundai models had problems with their thermostats

Posted on Jun 15, 2009

  • big9forfun Jun 15, 2009

    usual on 4 cylinder around 175psi.225psi is very high for your car,150psi seems ok,you may have two problems.A leaking head gasket and high compression due to carbon build up on the pistons.Check your Hyundai Dealer to see is this problem is covered under their 100,000 mile warranty,it should be.IF not then

    the head needs to come off and had gasket replaced along with clean the top of pistons since they are right there,sounds like and easy fix.also check condition of radiator,and I would rec. replacing thermostat since some Hyundai models had problems with their thermostats

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Water in the oil


Radiator coolant in the engine oil is normally an indication of a failed cylinder head gasket or a crack in the cylinder head or both.

Running the engine in an overheated condition will cause head gasket failure and often a crack in the cylinder head.

The problem you have is coolant is escaping into the engine's lubrication passages via the failed head gasket or head crack and contaminating the engine oil. If not fixed you will cause further damage to the engine as oil contaminated with radiator coolant cannot adequately lubricate the engine.

Running a leak down test on each cylinder will confirm the leak. In this case you are going to need to have the cylinder head removed and thoroughly checked for cracks and any warpage as well as a new cylinder head gasket fitted. The condition the engine block surface will also need to be checked.

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What should the psi compression be thanks.


It can vary between make and model of car. However, a general rule of thumb is that 135+ average is okay. Less than 85psi is pointing at something seriously amiss in the engine.

It can vary - some cars may have 125psi as 'average' compression.

Don't expect each cylinder to give the same compression reading as there will be a fluctuation. Another general rule of thumb is that there shouldn't be more than 10% variation between the readings. That is, if cylinder No1 is 135 psi, cylinder No2 shouldn't be less than '125 ish'.

If you suspect you may have compression issues, it's quite easy to do a bit of fault finding. Warm the engine first so that the pistons are expanded in the cylinders. Then do a dry compression (normal) test.

Here's some examples of compression tests on a 4 cylinder engine:
130 127 129 127

All compression readings are within 10% of each other. Fine.

Example 2:
95 95 129 127
Here, a low compression reading on cylinder 1 and 2 suggests a problem. It may be due to a faulty head gasket/cylinder head allowing compressed gases to be transferred via the defective head gasket from one cylinder to another.

Example 3:
130 80 129 127
Cylinder No2 has a problem. It's compression is way down. The other three cylinders are fine. So .. what is the cause of the low compression on cylinder 2? It could be a broken ring/cracked piston or a burnt exhaust valve.

This is where you do a second compression test - called the 'wet' test.

Squirt some light engine oil into each cylinder. Aim for the cylinder walls so that the oil can find its way down the walls and around the piston rings. Place a rag over each spark plug hole and spin the engine to expel excess oil.

The oil that you have sprayed into each cylinder will form a 'seal' around the piston ring. Do another compression test and note down the readings. Here's example 3 again:
Example 3:
130 80 129 127
.. with the low compression on cylinder 2.

If after carrying out the 'wet' compression test you have a reading along the lines of
130 100 129 127
suggests that the bore/piston rings in cylinder 2 are at fault. The compression has increased on No2 cylinder because of the oil forming a seal around the rings.

If there is no increase in psi on the wet test i.e
130 80 129 127
This suggests a burnt exhaust valve.

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I recently changed the head gasket after overheating. The car is not starting and emitting heavy smoke


How hot did the car get before you had to change the head gasket? If the car had extreme heat then it could have damaged the rings. The rings will collapse and allow oil to squeeze past and burn out of the exhaust causing the smoke. Also since the rings are collapsed the vehicle will have no compression hence the no start. First thing is do a compression check.

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Have a spark plug not firing.


Are you sure it's actually a plug?
Are you getting oil on the plug?
The plug may be firing but you may be losing compression which gives the symptoms of a misfire. As you've changed the plug, lead and coil this points to to a problem elsewhere.

Your first course of action should be to get a mobile mechanic carry out a diagnostic check for you.

To put your mind at rest, do a 2nd compression test using a light oil squirted into the bores:

Doing a Compression Test
Warm the engine. Remove all the spark plugs.
Get a pencil and piece of paper to note down the readings.
Put the compression tester into the No1 cylinder and crank the engine for 10 seconds.
Note down the compression reading.
Repeat process for all cylinders.

Here's an illustration of what you may expect on a 4 cylinder engine:
Cylinder 1 2 3 4
psi 125 122 120 124

125 is the uppermost figure for that engine. Here, this engine is fine. There's a slight variation in psi figures, but that's perfectly normal.

Here's the same engine:
Cylinder 1 2 3 4
psi 110 112 114 112

The psi reading is down. However, as all the figures are pretty much equal it doesn't indicate head /gasket problems. It may point towards worn pistons or burnt valves.

Now consider these psi readings:
Cylinder 1 2 3 4
psi 125 84 86 124

There's more than a 10% drop - a difference - between cylinder 1 and 2, and cylinders 3 and 4.
The compression readings for cylinders 2 and 3 is down; low. There's something clearly wrong.

It suggests that there is a defective head gasket between cylinders 2 and 3 or a crack in the cylinder head. The rising piston compresses the gases which escape into the adjoining cylinder via the defective gasket or cracked head.

However, it could also mean that there is a problem with the valves (burnt/not seating properly) or perhaps piston / ring problems.

A burnt valve - it's usually the exhaust valve as they bear the brunt of the combustion - can cause a reduction in engine power simply because the combustion process isn't occurring properly. Compressed air/fuel gets squeezed out of that cylinder because of the damaged valve . There even may be a misfire - a surge as the car runs.

Worn or broken piston rings allow compressed gases to leak past into the crankcase. A compressed crankcase can force oil out of the dipstick tube. The pressure in the crankcase will leak to atmosphere anywhere it can find an outlet.

The 2nd Compression Test
The second compression test is known as a 'wet test'. The first compression test was the dry test because no oil was added to the bores. The second 'wet' test can give an indication of whether it is the rings or valves at fault (though bear in mind rings and valves do not cause overheating or water in the coolant symptoms).

Spray a liberal amount of light penetrating oil into each cylinder - aim for the cylinder walls, not the centre of the piston. You want the oil to run down the cylinder wall and around the piston to form a seal.

Place a rag over each spark plug hole and spin the engine to eject the surplus oil.

Then carry out a full compression test noting down the results.

Here's the previous results with the 2nd compression readings added:
Cylinder 1 2 3 4
psi 125 84 86 124
Wet 128 112 110 126

The readings have increased. This because the oil sprayed into the bores has formed a temporary seal around the piston, thereby enabling the compression to be raised. It also indicates that the bores/rings are worn on cylinder 2 and 3 - the 'oil seal' has increased the readings but is still low in comparison with cylinders 1 and 2.

This could also indicate that in addition to worn rings there is also burnt valves. Oil cannot form a seal around a valve. A worn or split valve will cause a low compression reading and misfiring symptoms.
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Low compression readings between two adjoining cylinders point towards a head gasket/head fault if your vehicle has shown signs of coolant loss, coolant in the oil system - mayonnaise, overheating, rough running and lack of power.

If those symptoms are not present it points towards burnt valves/piston rings. A worn engine may be difficult to start and pressurise the crankcase, but it doesn't cause overheating problems.

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