There is no single definitive answer to what makes a performance piston good. It is an ongoing debate that almost always comes down to preference, but that does not mean every piston is the same. On the contrary, thanks to advanced automated technology, piston manufacturing is seeing more and more development progress than ever. So, there are a lot of factors that come into play when you’re choosing an aftermarket piston for your car.
The concept behind pistons has remained the same for a long time. There have always been two types of pistons – cast and forged – and they are made with more or less the same method as crankshafts, with the main exception that the material used is aluminium, not steel.
The cast piston is made by pouring melted aluminium into a mould that once cooled, creates a piston that very closely looks like its final shape. It’s a relatively cost-efficient method because it usually requires less machining. Forging pistons requires more machining, as the process includes putting a heated billet of aluminium alloy into dies, and it’s shaped by using high pressure.
All types of pistons for sale are made by using either one of these methods, but the pricing comes down to exactly which one. However, these methods don’t create equal pistons, so if you’re looking for something that will give you more horsepower, opting for a forged piston might prove to be a better choice.
The most important things to look out for when buying a high performance piston is its strength and durability. While both types of pistons can easily prove to be great in either department, forged pistons are generally the better choice when you’re looking for high performance. Cast pistons are generally more brittle due to their high silicon content, and they require careful handling as even mild shock may cause them to break.
Forged pistons might be heavier, but their weight is counter-affected by their high compression ratio, which makes the engine produce more power. Most turbocharged cars that use a high performance piston are resistant to extreme heat, detonation, and the pressure that is typical to performance-focused engines.
Every performance piston needs to be coated to increase its operational benefits. These coatings can range from different materials, such as oil, ceramics, anodized, or moly. The usage of coatings has gone up in recent years, as they used to be considered a fad, although their usefulness can’t be ignored.
Ceramic coatings are placed on the piston crown, which reflects heat from the top of the piston into the combustion chamber. They are great for regulating the thermodynamic properties of the engine. Moly dry film coatings are applied on the skirts of the piston, and they are ideal for reducing the piston’s friction and preventing skirt wear. Oil compounds are added on the underside of the piston to reduce the amount of oil clinging to the piston, thus reducing its weight.
The anodized coating is generally multipurpose, such as providing wear resistance, preventing micro welding to the ring grooves, and reduce the corrosiveness of nitromethane. Understanding which coating you want to use is an important step in maximising the ability of the high performance piston that you’re using.
When you’re looking for an aftermarket piston to upgrade your car with, you should be aware of the variety in designs and materials. They can range from street performance pistons to professional ones. Cast pistons and generally acceptable for a passenger vehicle, but if you’re looking for an upgrade to a high output engine, then forged pistons are considered a must.
An expert opinion is that if the engine has an output of 400 horsepower, can rev upwards of 6,500 RPM, or uses nitrous, then it needs a performance piston that can withstand punishment. If that’s the case, you definitely forged pistons. They were originally created to be used in muscle car engines of old, and today they dominate practically every type of racing environment. They are also used in all sorts of vehicles, such as aircraft, marine engines, heavy-duty trucks, and agricultural engines due to their high reliability.
To Sum Up
There are many options when it comes to choosing a piston, and that can make the decision difficult. However, only two main factors come into play in the end, and those are cost and application.
Generally, people would always prefer to use forged pistons if cost was never the issue, but it can be, which is why cast pistons are still a solid option. Cast pistons are generally fine for low RPM, low compression, low output engines, and they will not have any performance issues. However, if you’re looking for horsepower in a vehicle, then forged pistons are definitely the way to go.
If you want a horsepower build on a budget, the cost you’ll save by using cast pistons will mean that you’ll be stuck with inadequate compression and that the combustion efficiency will be hindered due to the size of the quench area. On top of that, you’ll risk seriously damaging your engine every time it makes great power or revs up a bit too much. If you’re seriously considering this approach, you might save on money, but you’re definitely setting yourself up for frustration.
Utilising performance pistons for your car can definitely make you feel like you’ve made a significant upgrade. They are a good enhancement for a high output engine, but it depends on what exactly you want to achieve. Make sure that you’re aware of the engine itself that you’re using, your intentions on maximising its horsepower, and what type of piston you’ll be using. Other than that, it’s definitely a solid upgrade, and if you’re looking to squeeze more horsepower, then definitely go for it.