Best Compression Testers: A Must-Read Before you Buy

Apr, 2017
Best Compression Testers

Your engine, without a doubt, is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. It can be considered as the heart that makes your car or truck function, giving life to the latter. With this, it is important to maintain it in its tip-top condition, not only to save on costly repairs, but also to be assured of your safety.

With too many options for the best compression testers, however, which one should you buy? If you have no idea how to proceed, keep on reading the rest of this post and know more about compression testers, including how they work. More importantly, we will give you a quick look at five of the best products that you might want to take into consideration.

What is a Compression Tester?

The obvious is perhaps already stated – it is a device that is used to test compression in an engine. However, it is not as simple as that. The mechanism at which it works can be more complicated, especially for someone who lacks technical knowledge about cars.

Regardless whether you have gasoline or diesel engine in your car, compression is necessary for it to operate. Your engine will basically function in a similar way to a pump that is self-powered. The absence of compression, therefore, will hinder it from functioning. This is where the importance of a compression tester would enter the picture. It is a handy device that will help in assessing the condition of the different parts of the engine, especially the valves. If the engine is in its tip-top condition, the test would reveal that the compression is more than 100 PSI in every cylinder. Doing the test can be accomplished in as quickly as just 20 minutes and with the use of a few tools.

When is it necessary to use a compression tester to check the condition of your engine? You can do so if you notice that the power produced is lesser than normal or when it seems to be functioning roughly. Also, every time that a tune-up is performed by a pro, it is also likely that an engine compression test will be done, which is considered as a sort of preventive measure. After the compression test, it is also necessary to identify the root cause of the problem, which can be attributed to broken valves, too much build-up of carbon, and deterioration of the piston rings, among others.

How Compression Tester Works

Here, we will talk about how a compression tester will work. The good news is that you do not need to be a pro to use it. There is no technical expertise required, as using it can be done in a manner that is pretty much straightforward.

To start, take out the spark plug that is found in your engine. Detach the fuel pump as well. This will be a necessary safety precaution. When the spark plugs are removed, there will be no ignition.

Once you have removed the spark plug, the next thing to do is to crank the engine of your car by as many as four times, which will lead to compression. Crank the engine more, even by as many as ten times or until you are able to achieve equal readings.

Also, after reading the compression, it will be a good idea to take down notes. You do not need a pen and paper to do this. You can simply use chalk and write outside the engine.

If your engine is in a healthy condition, the PSI should be more than 100. There are also some instances where it can be higher, which is basically because of the type of the engine.

Choosing the Best Compression Testers

If you are finding it hard to decide which one to purchase, the following are some of the considerations that can help you:

  • Reviews: One of the most important things is to consult with the opinions of other people. Their feedback will be helpful in evaluating the pros and cons of the possibilities. Through the experiences of other people, you can narrow down the choices.
  • Case: There are some models that are already inclusive of a hard case, which can be an excellent way to stay organized. This means that all of the parts will be kept in a single bag, making it also easy to bring it wherever the compression test needs to be done.
  • Tools: In most cases, there is only a hose and a gauge. However, in the case of some models, you will have more. Especially if there is a case included, chances are, there are different types of hoses and fittings, which will allow you to use the compression tester in more ways than one.
  • Ease of Use: The good thing about compression testing is that it can be done even on your own. There is no need to approach a neighborhood mechanic to ask for the test to be done. You can do it alone, provided that you find one that is user-friendly. The manufacturer must also provide detailed instructions on how to use it.
  • Construction: It is also important that you look for a compression tester that is built to withstand the test of time. It must be durable enough to make it last through the years. From the hose to the fittings, it should be made from premium materials that could resist external damages.
  • Gauge: The gauge is perhaps one of the most important parts in a compression tester. In case you are not aware of it, this is the part that will show you how much is the compression in the engine. It should be large enough so that you can easily see the display. Most importantly, it must deliver accurate readings.
  • Warranty: If the manufacturer believes in the quality of their product, they will not hesitate to offer an extensive warranty coverage. Within the duration of the warranty, the manufacturer can offer free repair if in case there are defects experienced.

Top Picks for the Best Compression Testers

In this section, we will identify five of the best compression testers that are currently available in the market, as well as a few of the reasons why they are unmatched.

1. OTC 5606 Compression Tester Kit

OTC 5606 Compression Tester Kit

Among others, one thing that we love the most about this product is how it already comes as a complete kit, providing you with everything that will be needed to perform compression testing. It has different adapters and rings, which will also make it versatile.

The carrying bag that is included is also a plus. This makes it easy to keep every item organized, and hence, increases the tendency that you will love them. If you are working as an engine mechanic or technician, this will be an excellent investment.

While there are some who noted that the quality of the hose is not the most exceptional, it is well-loved by many because it comes with nickel plate finish, which is known for its ability to resist corrosion. Because of this, you can expect that it will deliver superior functionality even through the years.


Pros:

  • Available in a complete kit
  • Has different fittings and rings for versatile applications
  • Has a durable enclosure

Cons:

  • Hose seems to have not been pressure-tested
  • Gauge quality could be better

2. Innova 3615 OHC Compression Tester Plus – 7-piece Kit

INNOVA 3615 OHC Compression Tester Plus - 7 Piece Kit

In many instances, compression tests are not simply conducted in areas of the engine that you can always see. The good thing is that with the innovative design of this product, it can do compression testing even in the parts of the engine that may seem to be difficult to access.

Another exceptional feature that you can find in this product is the side release valve. With the latter, it can be used for repetitive testing in the absence of the need to disconnect the hose.

There are some who reported that there is a possibility that the hose will be stuck on the head. Other than this, however, the hose is exceptional, especially when it comes to its construction. It has a length of 15 inches and comes with a stainless steel housing, which effectively protects it from external damages.

Lastly, it is integrated with a dual face dial that has a diameter of 2.5 inches. The latter also comes with dual-calibrated scales, which can be helpful in making sure that the readings will be accurate.


Pros:

  • Adapters have solid construction
  • Has an easy-to-read dial
  • Excellent rubber seals

Cons:

  • Will need a bit of modification
  • Hose can get stuck in the head

3. 8milelake Professional Petrol Gas Engine Cylinder Compression Tester Gauge Kit Auto Tool

8milelake Compression Gauge Test Set for Engine Cylinders Diagnostic Tester

One of the things that we loved about this product is how it comes with an affordable price. Even if you dare to compare, you will easily notice that it has a price that is hard to match, which is even made better by the fact that the product can deliver decent functionality.

At its price, it is amazing how it is already inclusive of everything that you will need to conduct a diagnostic testing of the engine. It has adapters that can deliver versatility, as they will be compatible with different vehicles. There are also rubber cones ends.

Meanwhile, to make sure that you will easily see the compression measured by the device, it comes with a 3-inch gauge, which also has a dual color scale.

Lastly, it also comes with a hard case, which will make it easy for you to organize all the parts when they are stored.


Pros:

  • Comes with a sturdy case
  • Sold at an affordable price
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • Connector between the hose and the gauge can be problematic
  • Not durable

4. Lisle 20250 Compression Tester

Lisle 20250 Compression Tester

Simplicity – this is one thing that you can expect from this product, which is also the reason why it comes with an affordable price. It comes with a one-piece construction, which will make it easy to use, even with the beginners.

The oversized gauge that is integrated into the product can also be seen as another impressive feature. It provides accurate measurements that are also easy to read.

Lastly, the brass fittings are also exceptional. They hold the different parts together, and best of all, they can remain strong despite frequent and long-term use.


Pros:

  • High-quality brass fittings
  • Sold at an affordable price
  • Has a simple configuration

Cons:

  • May not be long lasting
  • Adapter can be prone to always coming off

5. Mityvac MV5532 Digital Compression Test Kit

Mityvac MV5532 Digital Compression Test Kit

A lot of people may instantly have hesitations in choosing this product because it comes with an expensive price. However, this should not be a reason for you to instantly ditch the idea. It is expensive basically because it comes with a complete kit.

All of the components that are included in the kit has exceptional quality, especially if we talk about durability. All of its parts are meant to last, guaranteeing its usefulness for an extended period.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it seems like this product comes with a mind of its own. It has the ability to store in its memory the peak compression value of the cylinder that has been detected.


Pros:

  • Comes as a complete kit
  • Has a storage box
  • High-quality components

Cons:

  • Expensive price
  • Not as popular as the models mentioned above

Conclusion

In sum, with the best compression testers, it will be easy to evaluate the condition of your engine, and in the end, be sure that it will deliver optimal performance. Be sure to find the one that has high-quality construction and that can deliver accurate results. You should consult with the opinions of other people to narrow down the possibilities. If you do not know what would make the perfect choice, go back to the five products that we have recommended above.

Are you looking for other diagnostic tools? Searching for other products that can be used for your car? Click here and learn more about the choices that you will have.