Understanding the mechanics of a car can be confusing at best and intimidating at worst. Just because it seems like a complicated system does not mean that you cannot comprehend how it works. With the basics, you too can understand the workings of a car's gasoline engine.
The purpose of a gasoline powered automobile engine is to burn the gasoline inside of the engine thus converting the air and gas into a rotary motion. The combustion inside of the engine is what occurs. Today most all vehicles use a reciprocating internal combustion engine.
The reciprocating internal combustion engine allows the burning of fuel in a confined combustion chamber. In this space, there is a rapid rise in temperature and energy is released in the form of expanding of gases. The expanding gases force pressure to move the piston, turbine, blades, and rotor - thus the engine itself.
The engine operates by many parts moving and working together. Understanding all the individual parts is necessary for total comprehension. However, for now lets stick to the process the engine goes through. The internal combustion engine goes through a four-stage cycle.
Stage One: Intake Stroke
The piston starts at the top and moves down as the intake valve opens to allow the engine to take in a cylinder full of fuel (gasoline) and air. The intake valve then closes and traps this mixture in the cylinder. Though it sounds like a huge happening in all reality, it only takes a teaspoon of gasoline to be mixed with air for this to work.
Stage Two: Compression Stroke
Next, the piston proceeds back up to compress the mixture of gas and air. The intensity of the compression allows the explosion to be powerful.
Stage Three: Combustion Stroke
When the piston reaches the top or peak of its stroke, the spark plug will emit a spark, which ignites the gasoline. The gas charge then explodes in the cylinder and drives the piston back down. This rotates the crankshaft to power the automobile.
Stage Four: Exhaust Stroke
Once the piston hits the bottom of its stroke, the exhaust valve opens and exhaust, harmful gases, leaves the cylinder to be pushed through the exhaust system and out the tail pipe. This completes a full engine cycle. The cycle then starts over again with an intake of more air and gas.
Most vehicles have between four and eight cylinders. The more cylinders the more fuel it takes to power them and thus the whole engine. There is always at least one cylinder going through the combustion stroke, which carries the other cylinders through the other strokes. Every piston is connected to the crankshaft by a part called the connecting rod. The linear motion of the pistons is converted into a rotational motion made by the crankshaft.
Now you have learned the basics of how a gasoline powered reciprocating internal combustion engine works. There are many parts and they may be difficult to see when you look under the hood but this is how they work once you start the car each morning. The engine is a constantly working through the four stages to make the car run and get you to your destination. Look for more articles from CarInsurance.com to explain about the individual engine parts.