Selecting a set of connecting rods for your engine requires more than just the size of the rod — you need to make sure the material matches the application. Where things get tricky is when you have to factor in a budget since not everyone can afford a max-effort connecting rod. Ignacio Saenz Lancuba from Saenz Performance covers some basics on connecting rod materials and what can work the best for common applications.
Connecting rods need to be strong, and for some engine combinations they need to be light to assist in making the desired levels of horsepower. You can find connecting rods made of a variety of materials such as basic steel, aluminum, and on the exotic side of things, titanium. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages in how it can be used and the level of power they can support.
Lancuba is able to add some details on the different materials that Saenz Performance and other companies use for high-performance connecting rods.
“The most common material used in connecting rods is 4340 steel. Connecting rods can also be made from 300M steel, and it’s the top-of-the-line material you can use before titanium. This material is really good for high-power applications that need to take care of the weight since it is between 11- and 15-percent lighter, stronger, and more elastic than 4340 in same application rods. Finally, you have titanium — it’s very expensive but can be up to 40-percent lighter than 4340 while still handling big power.”
It’s obvious that as an engine makes more power it will need stronger rods in each cylinder bore to survive. That being said, you can’t sacrifice strength in the name of weight for horsepower because you’re going to start chipping away at the reliability of the connecting rods. Taking this into account, Saenz Performance makes sure the connecting rods, the materials they’re made from, the budget, and application they will be used in all will match up to prevent issues.
“4340 steel is the most common steel used and most popular in all-motor, small nitrous or low budget applications. This is due to the fact that you cannot reduce the weight a lot for high horsepower applications. That is where 300M comes to play. For high power applications, you can have a much lighter rod that will handle the power using 300M vs 4130 steel. Titanium is the top-of-the-line and since rods in this material are made to order, we can achieve very low weights that can handle the power with no problem. The big benefit with these titanium rods is they can last much longer than aluminum rods,” Lancuba says.
A set of custom connecting rods from Saenz Performance will be matched to your application and will have the length and strength you need. To achieve the best possible custom connecting rod or off-the-shelf connecting rod, Saenz Performance concentrates on using steel materials.
“We currently focus on steel rods that are made of 4340, 300M and titanium. The reason we do this is that aluminum isn’t as reliable as steel. Even though aluminum has gained huge popularity among street guys that want more power, the truth is that aluminum rods need to be replaced more often, while with steel rods if they are made properly can last for years. We have clients that have been using the same steel rods for more than 10 years and they work perfectly. This is not possible with Aluminum rods,” Lancuba explains.
You can learn more about custom connecting rod options from Saenz Performance on their website.