The engine is definitely the most important part in a car. Without it, the car is just a huge monster that cannot go anywhere. However, when you open the hood and see a big confusing jumble of metal, tubes and wires, you may wonder how exactly the engine works. Now I would like to give you an explanation to it.

Most of the car is powered by gasoline that is burned inside the engine to create power and make the car move. Therefore, a car engine is an internal combustion engine. Well, how does the combustion take place internally? Let’s take a look.

The core of the engine is the cylinder, with the piston moving up and down inside to create power. But how could the gasoline make the piston move? Where does the combustion occur? Well, there are intake valves drawing air and gasoline into the cylinder and pushing the piston, firstly at the top, to move down. Then, due to inertia, the piston moves up to compress the fuel/air mixture. And when the piston comes up to the very point, the spark plug will emit a spark to ignite the gasoline, which causes the explosion, driving the piston down. And once the piston hits the bottom of its stroke, the exhaust valve opens to let the exhaust to go out, ready for the next cycle of combustion.

Besides, although the motion produced by piston is linear, the linear motion is converted into rotational motion by the crankshaft at last. Also, in a car engine, there are at least 4 cylinders, which are usually arranged in one of three ways: inline, V or flat. And each of them has different advantages and disadvantages. Thus, choosing a specific cylinder arrangement is influenced by cost, space available under the hood, position requirements, existing manufacturing facilities, power to weight ratio, etc.

Moreover, you might be curious about why we should have six or eight cylinders in a car engine. After all, is it possible that we could gain the same power if we install a big cylinder of the same displacement of six or eight cylinders? Well, regretfully, the answer is no. A V-8 engine is much smoother because it has eight evenly spaced explosions instead of one big explosion. Another reason is starting torque. When you start a V-8 engine, you are only driving two cylinders (1 liter) through their compression strokes, but with one big cylinder you would have to compress 4 liters instead.

Finally, I would like to point out three basics things that will keep engine from running. The first is bad fuel mix that is mainly caused by clogged intake or an impurity in the fuel. The second is lack of compression that results from worn piston rings and not properly sealing intake or exhaust valves. The last one is lack of spark that is caused by worn out or missing wires. Therefore, you should check your engine from time to time in case that it breaks down suddenly.

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