Introduction

One of the more mythologically relevant parts of a car, the big end is actually quite simple; being a part of the larger connecting rod.

In vehicle folklore, one of the worst problems you can have is if "Your big end's gone". Accompanied by loud knocking, and loss of power, it is quite a serious problem and expensive to repair - requiring a total strip-down of the engine.

Operation

The big end is the end of the connecting rod which is attached to the crankshaft of the car. The end attached to the piston is conversely the little end. The reason for the name is purely that the big end is larger than the other.

The big end assembly actually consists of the end of the connecting rod, a bearing attached to the crankshaft, and clamp to hold the whole assembly together - with relevant nuts and bolts. Problems occur because of the immense stresses and forces applied.

Consider that the big end is spinning in a circle, being pulled around by the crankshaft, except for half of its turn on every other revolution during which time it is being pushed from the other end and forcing the crankshaft around.

Now consider that this may be occuring at 6000 revolutions per minute, at high temperatures. No wonder it can go wrong.

Problems and remedy

The bearings can wear, bolts can come loose, and parts can break off. All of these problems require a complete strip down of the engine. It is not actually a difficult problem to fix, but will take many hours of labour - and this is where the expense is incurred.

It is often cheaper to scrap an engine with a broken big end, and have a new engine fitted. If you are quite handy, it can be worth fitting a new engine - but keeping the old one, stripping it down and rebuilding as new in your spare time. It can then be sold on, or kept as a backup.