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However, with an electric start, you may
not be able to do this and also crank the
engine unless you have a bypass button,
usually in the throttle hub. If in doubt,
consult your owner’s manual. Also, some
engines get enough air intake, without
doing this, to do an adequate compression test.
3. Screw your compression gauge into
the first cylinder. Make sure that the plug
leads are well clear of the flywheel or any
4. Crank the engine with the starter or
pull cord through at least four or five flywheel revolutions, or until the compres-sion-gauge needle stops advancing. The
engine won’t start, as the plugs have been
removed, but some fuel will be injected
into the cylinder, so smoking or sparks
such as from connected grounded spark
plugs could ignite these gases. If you have
a fuel-injection engine, the injectors are
spraying very dangerous gas vapor into
the cylinders unless your system provides
a way to safely stop this.
5. Note the reading for that cylinder.
6. Repeat the process for each cylinder
and note the results.
Interpreting Your Results
Not many engine manufacturers will give
a cranking compression reference standard for their engines. There are too
many variables. What they typically write
in service manuals is that the readings
should all be within 10 PSI of each other.
While that’s helpful, it’s frustrating to
not have a reference when performing
the test on your engine. If in doubt about
This Suzuki DF115’s cranking compression
readings were all within five PSI of each
other, at approximately 210 PSI, indicating
a healthy engine.
When performing a compression check, it’s
a good time to purchase, gap, and install
new spark plugs. Buy the correct ones, and
gap them according to the specification for
your engine. Torquing the plugs in place
with a torque wrench is the best way to
ensure that they’re tight enough without
stripping the threads.