How Do Car Engines Work

A car engine is an Internal Combustion Engine. The internal combustion engine converts the gasoline into motion that enables the car to move. There are different kinds of internal combustion engines available. The more common forms of internal combustion engines are diesel engines and gas turbine engines.

The internal combustion engine was invented in 1890 by Wilhelm Maybach. Many vehicles of today are using his basic design. Major engine improvements have taken a mold as the internal combustion engine has evolved.

The essential operation of your auto engine is four to eight pistons are violently manipulated by an explosion of an Air/Fuel mixture careening the piston and connecting rod; moving the crankshaft, creating rotary inertia (circular motion). These circular movements are converted into kinetic inertness (forward movement) through the transmission and power train.  If you use a small amount of energy fuel like gasoline, an incredible amount of energy is created to move the car.

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Acura ILX Acura MDX Acura TLX
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What Are The Main Parts of a Car Engine?


The cylinder is one of the most vital parts of an engine. In a phrase, we can call the cylinder as a part and parcel of the car engine. You can find different types of cylinders based on different car models. Cylinder plays an important role that decides the performance of a car.


There are two types of valves in a car engine. One is the intake valves and the other is the exhaust valves. These valves control the fuel and air that will be released to the piston chamber.


The piston is nothing but a cylindrical piece of metal that remains inside of the cylinder and moves up and down. Sometimes it is called the power device of the car engine. There’s another part that is attached with the piston, a piston ring that provides a sliding seal between the outer edge of the piston and the inner edge of the cylinder.

Connecting Rods

Connecting rod is another important part of a car engine that connects the piston with the crankshaft. The rotator of the connecting rod helps to rotate at both ends to make it ensure that the piston and crankshaft rotate simultaneously.


As we know piston moves up and down to generate power, but without a crankshaft it is useless. The crankshaft converts the up and down moves into circular motion.

Cooling System

Because of so many mechanisms going on, the car engines produce a lot of heat. This is why the cooling systems are necessary to keep it working for a long time. For that, the antifreeze is stored in the radiator to cool down the block of your car engine parts. This is done by the radiator fan.


To start a car engine, a spark is the most important part. It enables the car to ignite. The spark plug supplies the required spark to move the car. When you ignite the car’s air/fuel mixture with the spark plug, combustion occurs. The spark plug is run by the battery. This is provided by the starter system that generates the spark to light the fuel-air mix compressed in the piston.

How a Car Engine Works

There are currently two types of car engines that are mostly used everywhere in the world. One is the 2-stroke engine and the other is the 4-stroke engine. If you’re using the car, you have a 4-stroke engine. The 2-stroke engine is mostly seen in motorcycles, chainsaws, and lawnmowers.  Let’s see how they work to move a standstill car with a 4-stroke engine.

4-stroke engine and its functions

Like its name, a 4-stroke engine has four strokes to move a car. This type of engine is used in cars, buses, trucks, and others.

Features of a 4-stroke engine:

  • It requires a heavier flywheel than a 2-stroke engine.
  • The engine is way cooler than a 2-stroke engine and it is water cooled as well.
  • It requires 2 crankshafts to produce a power stroke.
  • As it is compatible with big automobiles, it is more expensive than a 2 stroke engine.
  • A four-stroke engine can run without creating any noise.
  • It is more thermally efficient and has valves for intake and exhaust.
  • It is more powerful as the moving parts undergo less wear and tear.

How does 4-stroke engine work

As a car engine works with a 4-stroke combustion cycle, the four strokes – intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust are repeated over and over to generate power. Let’s have a look how the strokes are working at a time to move the car.

Intake Stroke:

In this stroke, the intake valve opens where the piston moves from Top dead center to Bottom dead center. In this stroke, the exhaust valve remains closed when it is bringing air and gas into the engine.

Compression Stroke:

In this stroke, both the intake and exhaust valves remain closed. The piston moves from BDC to TDC and pushes the air and gas/fuel (the mixture of them) into a smaller space aka a more powerful explosion.

Combustion Stroke:

In this stroke, the spark plug creates a spark to ignite the engine and release the gas/fuel. Then the piston backs down by dint of the power of the explosion forces created in Compression Stroke.

Exhaust Stroke:

During the last stroke of a 4-stroke engine, the exhaust valve remains open. In this cycle, the waste gas is released that is created by the explosion.

A car engine is the main part of a car that enables a car to move. If you have a car, you need to know the basics of a car engine. For what? In case, you need to buy some parts for upgrading your car engine, you need to know them at first, right? If you know the functionalities of your car engine, you can prolong the life of your car engine and battery, and so give you months and years of enjoyment with your chosen vehicle.

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