Automobile engines contain a large number of parts that, when functioning properly, power a vehicle so it can move. Trying to figure out what each part does can be daunting, but you don’t need to be a trained mechanic to gain a basic understanding of how a petrol engine works. General knowledge of automobile mechanics gives you a better idea of how to care for your vehicle and can help you to ask intelligent questions at the mechanic’s shop and find the right spare car parts.
Assuming the engine is somewhat exposed when you open the bonnet of your car, try to identify the major parts you see. The pistons move up and down within their cylindrical housing. You can’t really see the pistons and cylinders by just looking at the engine, but you will see the cylinder block. The cylinders are contained inside the cylinder block, which is the largest part of the engine.
The pistons are attached to the crankshaft via connecting rods. The crankshaft turns as the pistons pump fuel into the engine. Depending on the number of cylinders and the particular design of your car’s engine, they will be arranged in a straight line, V formation or in two straight banks opposite one another. Generally, more cylinders equates to a more powerful engine.
Spark plugs screw into the cylinder head. They contain an electrode connected via wire to an ignition coil. Spark plugs are so-called because when you turn the key to start your car, the spark plugs create an electrical spark to ignite the petrol and air mixture inside the cylinders.
The exhaust manifold is located on top of the cylinder block. Exhaust manifolds are made of steel or cast iron and collect any gases escaping from the cylinder head. An exhaust valve allows these gases to exit the exhaust manifold and be eliminated through the car’s exhaust pipe.
The oil sump or oil pan is at the bottom of the engine. It collects and stores lubricating oil for the engine. When the oil is changed, which should be done every few thousand miles, this pan is drained and fresh oil is put into the engine.
Most of these parts can be had from a car salvage company at reasonable prices. Purchasing spare car parts from car breakers is often more economical than buying them new. It also makes it easier to find components for older or limited edition vehicles.