How does a car engine work?

If you own or drive a car, it is crucial to understand how the car engine works. The internal combustion engine on modern cars is governed by a series of computers and sensors, although the basic principle remains the same. Understanding the rudiments of a working car engine will allow you to fully understand the importance of car maintenance such as changing the oil, spark plugs, and air filters. 

Basic Engine Parts :-

1. Cylinder block or engine block:-
  This is the foundation of an internal combustion engine and is usually crafted from iron or aluminum. The cylinder block contains the cylinders and the pistons that move up and down to compress the fuel and air mixture inside the combustion chamber.

2. Cylinder head:-
The cylinder head or engine head sits on top of the cylinder block and houses the intake and exhaust valves, spark plugs, and fuel injectors.

3. Crankshaft :- The crankshaft is responsible for converting the upwards and downwards motion of the pistons into rotational motion to turn the driving wheels. The crankshaft is fitted inside the crankcase which is located beneath the cylinder block.

4. Camshaft :- Mechanics consider the camshaft to be the brains behind the entire operation in an internal combustion engine. The camshaft turns along with the crankshaft and is connected via the timing belt. The camshaft is responsible for opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves at the precise moment to govern efficient combustion.
Understanding the Four Stroke Cycle

The internal combustion engine is basically a huge air pump. Want to know how does a car engine work? You need to understand the four stroke cycle.

1. Intake stroke :- The intake stroke begins as the camshaft rotates and opens the intake valve to suck air inside the combustion chamber. At this point, the exhaust valve will close and the fuel injectors will inject atomized fuel to begin the combustion process.

2. Compression stroke :- The compression stroke begins as both intake and exhaust valves are closed and the piston rises to compress the fuel and air mixture.

3. Power stroke:- The power stroke or combustion stroke will commence as the piston reaches the top of the combustion chamber. At this time, the spark plug will ignite the compressed air and fuel mixture to force the piston down. Since the pistons are connected to the crankshaft, the upwards and downwards motion of the pistons will be transferred to the driving wheels to move the car.

4. Exhaust stroke:- As the piston moves downwards, the exhaust valve will open. As the piston moves up again, the spent gasses are forced to exit the combustion chamber via the exhaust system and mufflers. When the piston moves down again, the intake stroke will begin once more to repeat the four-stroke cycle.

The speed at which the pistons move up and down (revolutions per minute or rpm) will depend on your driving style. Pressing the gas pedal deeper will allow the engine to ingest larger amounts of fuel and air to speed up the car.

Modern engines are governed by an ECU or engine control module that electronically monitors the fuel, air, and exhaust ratio. You can easily determine something is wrong with the engine if you see the check engine light or malfunction indicator light on the instrument console. When this lights up, this means you need to bring your car to a mechanic for some much needed car repair.

Author :-  Giles Kirkland , 
 London, United Kingdom
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