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Have you ever opened the hood of your car and wondered what was going on in there? A car engine can look like a big confusing jumble of metal, tubes and wires to the uninitiated. You might want to know what’s going on simply out of curiosity. Or perhaps you are buying a new car, and you hear things like “2.5‑liter incline four” and “turbocharged” and “start/stop technology.” What does all of that mean? n this article, we’ll discuss the basic idea behind an engine and then go into detail about how all the pieces fit together, what can go wrong and how to increase performance.
- There are different kinds of internal combustion engines
- Diesel engines are one type and gas turbine engines are another
- Each has its own advantages and disadvantages
- The steam engine in old-fashioned trains and steam boats
The purpose of a gasoline car engine is to convert gasoline into motion so that your car can move. Currently the easiest way to create motion from gasoline is to burn the gasoline inside an engine. Therefore, a car engine is an internal combustion engine — combustion takes place internally. Let’s look at the internal combustion process in more detail in the next section. Engines are also classified by their size.
The Different Types of Engines
There are of course exceptions and minute differences among the internal-combustion engines on the market. Atkinson-cycle engines, for example, change the valve timing to make a more efficient but less powerful engine. Turbocharging and supercharging, grouped together under the forced-induction options, pump additional air into the engine, which increases the available oxygen and thus the amount of fuel that can be burned—resulting in more power when you want it and more efficiency when you don’t need the power. Diesel engines do all this without spark plugs. But no matter the engine, as long as it’s of the internal-combustion variety, the basics of how it works remain the same. And now you know them.
How Your Cars Engine Work
In a multicylinder car engine, the individual cylinders’ cycles are offset from each other and evenly spaced so that the combustion strokes do not occur simultaneously and so that the engine is as balanced and smooth as possible. But not all engines are created equal. They come in many shapes and sizes. Most automobile engines arrange their cylinders in a straight line, such as an inline-four, or combine two banks of inline cylinders in a vee, as in a V‑6 or a V‑8. Engines are also classified by their size, or displacement, which is the combined volume of an engine’s cylinders.