How a Car Engine Works



To know how a car engine works, you need to understand the structure and design of the engines used in cars.

Today, almost all cars use reciprocating internal combustion engine, because it is relatively inexpensive, efficient and much easier to refuel. In this discussion of how a car engine works, we refer to the process which helps in converting the fuel to the motion of the car. This is the main purpose of an internal combustion engine, whereby burning the gasoline imparts motion to the vehicles. Generally, internal combustion engines are available in two types, viz., diesel engines and gas turbine engines.

The working of an internal combustion engine is similar to that of an old fashioned cannon, where a soldier loads it with gunpowder and a cannon ball and lights it. However, every combustion engine has its own benefits and limitations making them suitable for one and unfit for another.

How A Car Engine Works - Video

How car engine works - internal technology

A spark plug supplies the spark so that combustion can occur by the ignition of air/fuel. Both intake and exhaust valves, which are closed during compression and combustion, facilitate the whole process by letting in air and fuel, and letting out the exhaust. To better understand how car engine works, you need to understand that the piston movement is happening inside the cylinder, while the piston rings, (a typical sliding seal between the outer edge of the piston and the inner edge of the cylinder) prevents the leakage of air/fuel mixture and exhaust into the sump during the combustion and compression. It also prevents the leakage of oil into the combustion area by keeping it in the sump.

The piston-cylinder system, piston moving up and down inside the cylinder, is the core of the car engine. However the number of cylinders may differ. The pattern of cylinder arrangement is generally done as inline, V, or flat.

To understand how a car engine works, you also need to know about the area where combustion and compression takes place. This is known as the combustion chamber. This chamber has both minimum and maximum volume limits. The size changes with the movement of the piston inside the cylinder. The difference between the lower and the upper limit is known as displacement, i.e., how much power the engine can produce, and is usually measured in cubic centimeters.


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