LS1 Piston Rings and You

LS1 Piston Rings and You


When building your LS1 engine or simply refreshing the bottom end, shopping for LS1 piston rings can be a difficult task. When you are swapping an LS1 and want to add additional power adders to the mix, the task can become even more difficult.

That’s what our LS1 Piston Rings FAQ is for, to educate you the LS1 piston rings shopper and help you identify what you need. LS1 piston ring sets are available in many different materials and sizes, so it helps to have this handy LS1 piston rings guide.

The LS1 piston comes with three rings with different sizes and purposes. The top ring is a 1.2mm combustion ring, the second LS1 ring is a 1.5mm, and the oil ring is 2.8mm. If you are replacing your LS1 pistons and building your motor, you will want to check your piston guide for the specifications you will need to match your piston set.


Typically however most aftermarket LS1 piston manufacturers will call for similar measurements, a 1.5mm top ring, 1.5mm second ring and 3mm oil ring package. If your piston manufacturer includes LS1 piston rings for you to install, don’t try and be cute. Instead follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and use the rings included unless you have other piston ring needs for your LS1.

The choices we are talking about usually involve just the first ring, which is the compression ring. If you are adding turbocharger or supercharger to your LS1 build, or even nitrous, you may want a different metal to improve longevity and reliability.

For NA use


For most street vehicles, the standard ductile iron plasma moly coated top ring is more than efficient for natural aspiration. These kinds of rings are sprayed with plasma moly coating that helps the ring fight off deadly heat and detonation as well as improving ring lubricity.



Your LS1 shortblock is lined with ductile iron, so a softer top compression ring usually seals much better.

Forced Induction use


If you are adding a power adder like turbocharger or supercharger, upgrading your LS1 pistons to forged units and moving away from the hypereutectic stock units is advised. If boost is in your plans, you will want gas nitride treated steel top rings. If you are sticking to the stock piston and ring setup, there’s not much reason to upgrade your rings.

When adding boost to your GEN III powerplant, the LS1 stock hypereutectic piston will give up before your rings do. Nitride treated steel top rings will take a bit longer for them to seat or break in, but will result in a stronger more reliable engine. The nitride process adds strength and durability to the top compression ring, while helping to seat to your cylinder walls.


Ring sets we prefer are the Speed Pro Hell Fire rings or the TNT series of rings from Total Seal. If you are intending to use steel rings, make sure to do the job right and have the hone done correctly, to prevent any seating or break in problems.

Oil Control Ring – 2nd ring


LS1 Piston Rings take a different turn for the second ring, which is not the typical traditional style, but in the LS1 the second rings are Napier style. This style of piston rings feature a undercut lip that provides a cushion of oil when the second ring goes to scrape the cylinder wall. Because they are not exposed to compression like the first ring is, these rings are made traditionally from cast iron.

Oil LS1 Piston Rings – Oil it up


Aftermarket LS1 third ring sets are usually in the 3mm range for GEN III LS1 engines. If you are swapping to an aftermarket piston here, you will want to use the oil control rings provided to you by the manufacturer.

These third rings on LS1 engines feature a radial groove that’s a lot less deeper than traditional third rings. This method is putting less tension and load on the third ring itself, which helps the LS1 engine last longer.

To sum up our Buying Guide on LS1 Piston Rings, the top ring is generally what’s going to control and guide your buying choices. As always when you receive your aftermarket pistons and are not sure about what ring sets you should be going with, you can always give us a call to speak to a certified mechanic.

That does it for our LS1 Piston Rings and You Buying Guide, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below!