The 30 Car Engine Parts you should know about when you look at them!

For a majority of people, a car is much more than just a machine that takes them from point A to Point B. For them, it grows on to become a friend, they treat it like a family member and not just another ‘machine’. As any person who loves cars would certainly tell you they find their cars to have a ‘character’, a ‘personality’ that captivated them. 

Thus, knowing about our cars just as much as we know about our loved ones becomes an imperative for us. How they function, how they perform, what makes them the desirable piece of engineering that they are, and much, much more. But then, the field of automobile, its design, and engineering is a vast sea of knowledge and science. Yet, there are very many things that one must know about their cars, such as the significant car engine parts that join together to make your car’s heartbeat that wonderful addictive rhythm and lets you experience the power surge as you press the accelerator pedal. 

Get to Know Your Car Engine; How Car Engine Works: 

The modern car engine design is a fascinating thing to understand, they are marvels of engineering that work on complex parameters. However, in simpler terms,  an engine makes a vehicle move by burning fuel inside it which in turn moves the wheels. Even though, in essence, this is correct, there is more that goes on inside an engine. 

The engines we use in our cars are called Internal Combustion Engines or ICE and almost tall of the car ICEs across the world use one of the following as fuel: Petrol, Diesel, or CNG. The basic idea remains the same for all these fuel types, however, the way in which the ‘combustion’ and ‘supply of the fuel’ is achieved defines the type of engine. Thus, there are two specific types of internal combustion engines - 

  • The Spark Ignition engine (SI Engine)
  • The Compression Ignition Engine (CI Engine)

The SI engines use petrol or CNG as fuel, while the CI engines are essentially diesel-fuelled ones.  

Another important thing to understand about the way an engine works is to know how many times ‘combustion’ occurs per ‘cycle’. Here a cycle is defined as one completion of all strokes - intake, compression, expansion/ power and exhaust. Almost all modern engines have a four-stroke cycle where the combustion of the fuel is only one of the strokes. The four strokes in an internal combustion engine are Intake, Compression, combustion and power stroke, and the exhaust stroke. Here, a stroke is defined as a movement of a piston inside the cylinder from its lowest position to its highest position or vice versa. 

Thus, when you put fuel inside your fuel tank and turn the ignition on, the following things occur:

  • Intake Stroke - the fuel is supplied to the ignition chamber or inside the cylinder through a process that depends on your fuel and engine type. This fuel ‘sucked’ inside is actually a mixture of fuel and air. This is the first stroke in a four-stroke cycle in a modern ICE. In this stroke, the piston goes from its top position to its lowest position creating a vacuum that sucks the fuel into the chamber. 
  • Compression Stroke - This fuel and air mixture is then compressed by the piston which is coming up from its lowest position to its highest position. This generates extraordinary pressures inside the cylinder, causing the fuel and air mixture inside it to heat up. There is a small gap between the highest point to which a piston can travel inside a cylinder and the roof of the cylinder. This is where the compressed fuel and air mixture gets primed for the next stroke.
  • Combustion and Power Stroke - In this stroke, the compressed air-fuel mixture is ignited. In the case of a Spark-Ignition Engine, there is a spark plug mounted on top of the cylinder that initiates a spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture. In a Compression Ignition engine, there is no need for a spark plug as diesel has a lower ignition temperature than petrol and the heat generated through compression and a support glow plug is sufficient to cause ignition of the fuel and air mixture. This ignition causes an explosion inside the chamber that thrusts the piston downwards.  This part of the stroke is called the Power stroke and this is where the main power that runs your vehicle comes from. 
  • Exhaust Stroke - Once the expansion of burned gases inside the cylinder has pushed the piston all the way down, the gases are then pushed outside the combustion chamber through the piston that starts to come up again due to the inertia caused by the expansion of the gases in the earlier stroke.

Now that the basics of the four-strokes in modern internal combustion engines are clear. How does the power get transmitted to the wheels? Here is an overview of how this happens: 

  • Power stroke pushes the piston downwards.
  • A piston is connected to the crankshaft which converts the vertical motion of the piston into a circular motion.
  • The crankshaft turns the flywheel, a component that uses the principles of inertia to convert the power coming from the cylinder/s in pulses into a uniform flow.
  • The flywheel is connected to the transmission via the clutch.
  • The transmission is connected to the drive shafts that turn the wheels through live axles.

Now that you basically understand how a modern car's internal combustion engine works, in principle, it is time to discuss the 30 most significant car engine parts that you must know in order to understand your vehicle and the discussions around it. It can be helpful for you in case you need to repair or replace any part. Knowing what it does not only makes you understand its importance but also lets you be in a position where it will be hard for someone to scam you on service-related issues.

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