Your Car's Engine
It’s as simple as stepping on the gas and going. Of course, what makes that possible is your vehicle’s engine. When you lift the hood of your car, your engine looks like a complicated series of tubes, wires and metal. To better understand how the engine works and why, you need to know the basic components.
Let’s start with the heart of the engine: the cylinders. Most cars are made with four, six or eight cylinders that can be arranged in one of three ways: inline, V or flat. Inline means the cylinders are vertically oriented with the opposite being flat, or horizontally oriented. A \"V\" arrangement means that they function at an angle, shaped like the letter V.
Next is the spark plug, which ignites the air/fuel mixture to create combustion. There are the intake and exhaust valves which allow air and fuel in, and then release the resulting exhaust. The piston moves up and down within your car’s cylinder, while the piston rings provide the sliding seal and serve two important purposes: they prevent the air/fuel mixture and exhaust in the combustion chamber from leaking into the sump (more on that in a minute) during compression and combustion, and secondly, to keep oil in the sump from leaking into the combustion area. If your car “burns oil”, that means that these rings are not sealing properly.
The connecting rod does what it says by connecting the pistons to the crankshaft, which turns the pistons up and down in a circular motion. The sump surrounds the crankshaft and the oil it contains collects in the bottom, also known as the oil pan.
There are three fundamental things that can keep an engine from working correctly: a bad fuel mix, lack of compression or lack of spark. A bad fuel mix can happen when: the air intake is clogged, preventing enough air; your fuel system is providing too much of either air or fuel, or the classic: you’re out of gas.
Lack of compression is another cause of engine trouble. This could mean your piston rings are worn, the intake/exhaust valves aren’t sealing properly or there is a hole in the cylinder.
And finally, the lack of spark, meaning the spark is non-existent or weak. That could be caused by the spark plug wire being worn out or if the wires are cut or missing, or if the timing of the spark (ignition timing) is off. There are other things that can cause engine problems, like a dead battery or running out of oil for starters.
For the sake of simplicity, these are the basic workings of your car’s engine which explains how and why it works. When you notice that your engine isn’t performing properly, it’s best to seek the advice and expertise of a car technician to accurately diagnose, and correct the problem.
Johnny Nocera has been on the radio airwaves in Southwest Florida with “Dr. Johnny’s Car Clinic” on FOX News radio 92.5 FM, 1240/1270 AM every Saturday morning from 9-10 for over 25 years. He also owns, along with his sons Jr. and Jimmy, Supreme Auto and Collision located in downtown Naples, and has been in business for more than 35 years.