Do you know how your car engine works? It’s probably been awhile since you were shown how it works. That’s because not that many people take the time to understand their own car and its inner workings. For starters, have you ever wondered what makes your car run? And how does it all come together? Let us explain: A car engine works by combining various components in order to create power. Here’s everything you need to know about how they work together and why so many cars today are powered by engines.
What Makes Up a Car Engine?
Think about how a car engine works for a moment and you’ll quickly be able to picture what makes up your car’s engine, too. It’s basically a set of parts that, when assembled together, allows a car to generate power and move. Here’s a basic breakdown of all the parts and how they work together, while also offering some additional insight into why they’re combined the way they are:
Engine: All engines, whether they’re in a car or an airplane, are basically the same. For simplicity, let’s talk about a car engine for the rest of this article—your car may be different, but the basics are the same. Engine components are grouped into four main categories: intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust.
Intake: Intake simply refers to the incoming air that your engine needs in order to produce power. Intake valves are positioned below the engine’s pistons, opening and closing as necessary to allow air to enter the engine.
Compression: Compression is essentially when the high pressure of the engine’s combustion is suddenly released. This is what causes the car’s spark, which allows combustion to take place, producing power. The longer the pistons are compressed, the more power will be produced.
Ignition: This refers to when the spark ignites the mixture of air and fuel in the combustion chamber. In a car engine, ignition is achieved through a coil or battery that is connected to the spark plug.
Exhaust: At the end of the engine’s exhaust process is the exhaust. This is what allows the car’s engine to cool down, which is important for the car’s longevity.
How a Car Engine Works: The Basics
Now that you know what makes up a car engine, let’s talk about how it works. We’ll start by discussing how the four main components of an engine work together: intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust.
Intake: Intake basically refers to how much air your car’s engine needs in order to produce power. Here’s how it works: When the car is running, the engine sends a vacuum to the intake valves, which opens the valves and allows air to enter the engine. The air passes through a carburetor or the intake system on newer cars, at which point it’s mixed with fuel in the intake manifold. The air-fuel mixture then travels through the engine, producing power as it’s burned.
Compression: Next, we have compression, which is the release of the high pressure of the piston’s combustion. The compression process is what allows the spark to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. It happens as the pistons are moving toward the crankshaft, causing the high pressure of the combustion to suddenly release.
Ignition: The ignition process is when the spark ignites the air-fuel mixture, creating the heat that’s needed to produce power. It happens when the timing chain or coil is energized by the crankshaft. Once the ignition occurs, the hot gases travel through the engine’s exhaust system and are released out the exhaust pipe.
Exhaust: Finally, we have the exhaust. Out of all the four major components of an engine, the exhaust is what allows the engine to cool down. Your car’s engine needs to heat up in order to produce power, but it also has to cool down in order to keep running. Since your engine is in constant motion, it’s heated from the inside out and has to cool down in order to function properly.
The exhaust system accomplishes this by allowing the hot gases released from the combustion process to exit the engine and be released out the exhaust pipes.
How a Car Engine Works: In Depth
Now let’s dive deeper into the how the four main components of an engine work together.
Intake: When you start the engine, a vacuum is created by the intake valves that opens the valves and allows air to enter the engine. The air-fuel mixture is sent through the intake and is mixed with fuel as it travels through the engine.
The intake valves are positioned below the pistons and open and close as necessary to allow air to enter the engine. As the air enters the engine, it’s warmed up by the inside of the engine. This is why engines need to be running when you start yours.
Compression: Next, we have compression, which is when the high pressure of the combustion is released. The compression process happens as the pistons are moving toward the crankshaft. The compressed gases are then released from the cylinders as the pistons move toward the crankshaft.
Ignition: Finally, there’s ignition. The ignition process happens when the timing chain or coil is energized by the crankshaft. Once the ignition occurs, hot gases travel through the engine’s cylinders and are released out the exhaust pipes.
Your car engine works by combining various components in order to create power. The four main components of an engine are intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust. Intake allows air to enter the engine, while compression releases the high pressure of the combustion. Ignition heats up the gases, while the exhaust process allows the engine to cool down.
Now that you know all about how a car engine works, you can better appreciate why many cars today are powered by engines.