This paper presents thermodynamic analysis of piston friction in spark-ignition internal combustion engines. The general effect of piston friction on engine performance was examined during cold starting and normal working conditions. Considerations were made using temperature-dependent specific heat model in order to make the analysis more realistic. A parametric study was performed covering wide range of dependent variables such as engine speed, taking into consideration piston friction combined with the variation of the specific heat with temperature, and heat loss from the cylinder. The results are presented for skirt friction only, and then for total piston friction (skirt and rings). The effect of oil viscosity is investigated over a wide range of engine speeds and oil temperatures. In general, it is found that oils with higher viscosities result in lower efficiency values. Using high viscosity oil can reduce the efficiency by more than 50% at cold oil temperatures. The efficiency maps for SAE 10, SAE 30, and SAE 50 are reported. The results of this model can be practically utilized to obtain optimized efficiency results either by selecting the optimum operating speed for a given oil type (viscosity) and temperature or by selecting the optimum oil type for a given operating speed and temperature. The effect of different piston ring configurations on the efficiency is also presented. Finally, the oil film thickness on the engine performance is studied in this paper.