For many people, raising the hood of their car is essentially a foray into the unknown. Traditional vehicle engines are classified as internal combustion engines and include the following components:
The main component of an engine, the block houses the cylinders and their pistons in the upper section; the lower section is comprised of the crankcase, which supports the crankshaft. Cylinder blocks are typically made of either cast iron or aluminum, which is lighter in weight.
The cylinder head forms the top of the combustion chamber and is bolted atop the block. In the combustion chamber, the gasoline combines with pressurized air and is ignited by a spark from a spark plug.
These mechanisms connect the pistons to the crankshaft.
Throws are offset areas in the crankcase where the reciprocating motion of the pistons is converted into the rotary motion that will propel the vehicle.
Pistons and Piston Rings
Pistons transfer energy to the crankshaft via the connecting rods. The piston rings provide a tight seal which maintains heat and pressure in the piston and prevents oil from entering the combustion chamber.
Mounted on the rear of the crankshaft, the flywheel is the link between the crankshaft and the transmission via the clutch assembly.
Valves, Intake and Exhaust
These control the flow of the intake and exhaust from the combustion chamber and are specifically called intake valves and exhaust valves. Generally, intake valves are larger than the exhaust valves due to the increased pressure that forces a charge into the cylinder. Correct valve timing is essential to the proper operation of an internal combustion engine.
Made of various materials such as cork, rubber, metal or alloy, gaskets should be used once and then discarded. Head gaskets in particular should never be reused since they contain the combustion pressure within the block and the cylinder head.
Camshaft and Lobes
A separate camshaft drives each valve and the distributor. A cam lobe opens a valve for a specific amount of time and then closes it.
Timing Chain or Belt
The timing belt or chain drives the camshaft and the water pump.
The crankshaft rotates in the crankcase, facilitated by the main bearings located in the crankcase.
Located throughout the engine, bearings provide support and protection for rotating parts, allowing them to move without obstruction.
This essential component circulates the coolant or water from the radiator through the engine as one component of the engine cooling system. If the timing chain or belt is not properly tensioned, the water pump will not properly circulate water or coolant and the engine can overheat.
Multi-vaned and finned, the radiator is the water or coolant reservoir for the engine.
Spark Plugs and Plug Wires
Although not specifically a component of the engine block, spark plugs and wires are essential to the function of an internal combustion engine since the spark plugs supply the spark that ignites the air/gasoline mixture in the combustion chamber.
Carburetor or Fuel Injection System
The carburetor or fuel injection combines the air/gasoline mixture in the proper ratio before it is sent to the combustion chamber.
Engine oil is essential to keep moving parts properly lubricated and prevent the engine from overheating. Oil is kept in the oil pan, circulated throughout the engine by the oil pump and kept free of debris by the oil filter.
The composite parts of the sophisticated technology in an internal combustion engine work best when all its components are properly maintained. Keeping all the systems in proper operation will ensure maximum safety and longevity of this incredible machine.
This article was written by Vito Sanchez on behalf of Auto USA, your number one choice for an Arlington car dealer. Check out their website to see what they can do for you!