How to Maintain a Rotary Engine

March 28, 2012

Maintaining a rotary engine requires you to modify some of the maintenance habits recommended for traditional engines.

Rotary Engine Maintenance

A rotary engine can be one of the most dependable motors in the world. Having only a few moving parts helps a rotary engine avoid the breakdowns and headaches of a piston engine. You need to check the rotary engine's oil level and check all other fluids to ensure the vehicle's performance.

Oil Changes
As with all motors, an oil change should be one of the most important maintenance procedures done on a rotary engine. The oil should be drained and changed with oil of the proper viscosity, along with the installation of a new oil filter every 3,000 miles or six months. The oil needs to be changed more frequently for turbo rotaries, about 2,000 miles or three months.

It is highly important that the oil be changed with non synthetic mineral based motor oil, as synthetic oils have been known to cause damage to the apex seals of rotors. This may go against the grain for many automobile owners as synthetic oils have been on the market for years now and are highly popular. Rotary engines have different tolerances, so synthetics should be avoided.

Other Maintenance
Rotary engines require more frequent inspections since they are usually smaller and rev at a higher RPM.

Remember to check the spark plugs and check the belts for damage such as cracks, grease marks, glazing of the material and the general tightness of the belts.

Maintenance Resources
A basic plan for learning how to maintain a rotary engine can be found on sites well-known by RX-7 and RX-8 enthusiasts all over the world such as and On these sites it is easy to find exactly how to maintain the engine and promote perfect automotive health.

Related Questions and Answers

How Efficient Is a Rotary Engine?

If your car's engine utilizes what is known as the Atkinson cycle, you have a more efficient rotary engine than most. The Atkinson cycle rotary engine uses a longer power stroke than compression stroke. The Atkinson cycle rotary engine was first introduced and patented in 1882, and is more relegated to history than in actual use today. Engine makers use unconventional valve timing to imitate a longer power stroke than compression stroke, and improves power output and fuel efficiency. This is accomplished by holding the intake valve open for a short time during the compression stroke, pushing some of the air fuel mixture back into the intake system.

What Are the Advantages of a Rotary Engine?

You're looking at cars and are curious about whether there are any advantages to a rotary engine. The rotary engine is an internal combustion engine that doesn't use reciprocating pistons to compress the air fuel mixture and produce power. A rotary engine uses a design that has the engine combustion area in a circular layout, a triangular shaped rotor that compresses the air and fuel mixture, and is acted against during the combustion cycle to produce power. This rotary motion almost completely does away with engine vibration. The lack of a reversal of motion of the piston also greatly reduces the mechanical stresses that the engine is put under.

Why Is It Important to Get a Rotary Engine Compression Test?

Whether you have a reciprocating engine or a rotary engine, a compression test can tell you quite a bit about the condition of the seals in the compression chamber areas of the motor. With a rotary engine, you don't have a crankshaft and pistons. You usually have two rotors and a rotor case. The rotors are triangular shaped, and at the corners, there is an apex seal. When testing for compression in a rotary engine, you're looking for three distinct rises in compression each time the engine goes through a single revolution. These peaks in compression should be evenly spaced. If you don't see this, then you have problems with the apex seal(s) and should get this problem fixed before major problems occur.

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