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How Does My Car Engine Work?

How Car Engines Work! It is Easier Than You Think

To many people, when they lift the hood of their car, the car engine is a confusing maze of metal and tubes. It can appear to be very intimidating to figure out exactly how a car engine works. However, the basic principles behind how a car engine works are much easier to understand than what you might think. I am going to show you how car engines work.

What is Internal Combustion?

The basic idea of a car engine is to convert gasoline into motion so that your car will move through a process known as combustion. Car engines are called “internal combustion engines” since the combustion takes place internally. With internal combustion, a small amount of high-energy fuel, such as gasoline, is placed in a small enclosed area and ignited, releasing a large amount of energy in the form of expanding gas. The way an internal combustion engine in a car works, is that this process of igniting the fuel and creating small controlled explosions is done hundreds of times per minute. The engine harnesses the energy created by these explosions and redistributes it in a useful way, which is the core function of how the car engine works.

Step 1: Fuel Injection

In order to make the car engine work, air must be sucked into the engine and mixed with the gasoline in the car. This creates a highly compressed mixture of fuel and air. The amount of air that the engine takes in is controlled by how much pressure is placed on the accelerator when driving. The compression is necessary to create a powerful enough explosion to move the pistons. Once the engine has mixed the air and the gasoline together, it is pushed into the part of the car engine known as the cylinder.

Step 2: Expansion

Once the air and gasoline is mixed together, it is pushed into a chamber known as the cylinder head. This is where the mixture is ignited by one of many spark plugs, causing the air to expand rapidly with a tremendous amount of force. This expansion of gas then passes through the cylinder and pushes down on the piston, which then moves down and turns the crankshaft, which is attached to the gears and the axel of the car and causes the wheels to rotate. The more force applied to the accelerator pedal, the faster this process happens, which is what causes the car to increase in speed. The expansion process is measured in how many revolutions per minute your car tires make a full rotation, known as RPMs.

Step 3: The Stroke Sequence

Many times, car engines are referred to as being four-stroke engines, meaning that the pistons in the car engine make four motions in a cycle. The four stages that make up the stroke sequence are known as the intake stroke, the compression stroke, the combustion stroke, and the exhaust stroke. The air mixture is injected into the cylinder, which forces the piston down for the first motion, then the piston moves back up once the mixture is compressed and the spark plug fires causing expansion for the second and third motions. The fourth and final motion is when the spent fumes exit the engine via the car’s exhaust pipe. The car engine works by repeating this stroke sequence hundreds of times a minute.

While at first glance, figuring out how car engines work can seem very intimidating; the process itself is relatively simple. Once there is a basic understanding of the principles of how a car engine works, it can become much easier to identify and repair any minor problems that may occur in your car engine.  Be sure you understand how your car insurance works too!  Many discounts are not always easily available if you don’t educate yourself. Educate your self with how to get great rates on auto insurance for teens!

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