What is a Water Hammer on a Car Engine?

Mech4cars.com – What is a Water Hammer on a Car Engine? – The internal combustion engine is the heart of a car. The lifetime of a car engine depends on the conditions in which it is operated. However, there were damages that were completely unrelated to the age of the car.

What is a Water Hammer on a Car Engine?

The actual engine problem doesn’t depend on the puddle the car passed through last time. A water hammer is increase piston pressure by several hundred times. Water hammer occurs because of the water vapor that enters the cylinder or combustion chamber. We know that water is a material that cannot be compressed or compressed. Therefore, a water hammer is very possible. During the compression stroke, the piston will move from the bottom fixing point toward the top dead center. In the process of this movement, the piston experiences water resistance. This presence of water can stop the piston from traveling and it is called a water hammer.

Water Hammer on a Car Engine


For a water hammer to occur, you don’t need a lot of water in the cylinder, just a little. When the piston is trying to complete the heating cycle and there is water in the cylinder, many things will happen. Starting from the bending of the piston handlebar (connecting rod) to the cylinder block breaking. A broken cylinder block is the most terrible problem. When this happens engine repair is not easy, in fact, it is better to buy a used machine that just installs it in the best way.

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How did the water hammer happen?

What happened we already know, it’s time we talk about something else that is deeper. How can water or moisture get into the machine? This is a question that attracts many car owners of course. But the answer is actually very simple. In 80% of cases, water from outside the engine enters the cylinder. Where did it come from? For example, through the intake manifold when the car passes a sufficiently deep puddle. A car ‘drowning’ with a running engine condition will certainly experience a water hammer unless it has been prepared beforehand to deal with these conditions.

Water Hammer on a Car Engine

But there is the remaining 20% ​​that not many people know. The fact that a car is a fairly complex system consisting of many parts. The engine also has radiator water in the cooling system. Radiator coolant moves throughout the engine including through the cylinder head. If the cylinder head gasket is damaged, radiator water can enter the combustion chamber. This is rare, but this possibility also cannot be ignored.

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Actually, not all of the water hammer incidents resulted in fatal damage. For example, as follows.

  • Water hammer when the engine speed is low. The big problem mentioned above can be avoided.
  • When it hits the crankshaft at high speed, there will be severe damage. The connecting rod and piston will be damaged and even the crankshaft itself can be broken.
  • At medium speed, at least the connecting rod will bend.

It is important to note that engine repair is not possible if the piston penetrates the cylinder wall. It should also be understood that after a problem occurs, the machine continues to work, and it is better to immediately take the machine to the workshop for repair. In this case, there is a high chance that no severe damage will occur.

Therefore, when there is standing water and it is possible to avoid it, it should be avoided. Of course, this is for cars that are not prepared to pass through watery terrain. Cars in urban or city cars should avoid excess waterlogging if you don’t want a water hammer to happen to the car.

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