Understanding your car’s engine

Ever wondered about how your car’s engine works? Many of us just take it for granted but understanding the engine can make you feel a little more knowledgeable when talking to a mechanic or breakdown specialist should there be an issue with your car’s engine. This article briefly explains the main parts of the engine and what they do without the jargon.


Cylinders inside a car’s engine

Like the name suggests, a cylinder in an engine is simply put as a tube. This is area where your car creates the energy to drive your vehicle, housing the other parts that are critical to the engine as mentioned below. Most car’s will have at least four cylinders in them and each cylinder is tightly sealed since there are strong forces being exerted within each cylinder.

Pistons and how they work in your engine

Pistons are designed to go up and down to drive the other parts of your car and move it along. Automotive pistons will also have to endure thousands of explosions a minute when you turn your car’s engine on, hence the RPM (revolutions per minute) on your dashboard indicating how fast these pistons are moving. Each piston has a smooth top surface (occasionally with indentations) where the explosions happen, and is also designed this way so it won’t collide with the valves. As the piston pushes up into the cylinder, it compresses the fuel and air mixture within the cylinder so that when the spark plug ignites the fuel it forces the piston back down with great force and speed. Then as the piston is pushed down the ‘connecting rod’ pushes against a part of the crankshaft making the engine keep turning.

How the connecting rod works in an engine

We mentioned just before a ‘connecting rod’. This is connected at the bottom of the piston – which it is usually hollow and domed shaped. Within this dome a wrist pin helps to connect the piston and the connecting rod together. This serves to enable the connecting rod to pivot whilst keeping attached to the bottom of the piston.

The reason why this rod is so useful along with it’s related components is that it helps make the crankshaft rotate – see the next section below. You may think that this might be a weak link in the engine’s design but piston’s are known to break more often than rods or their connections.

Understanding the engine’s crankshaft

As we already know now, the piston is connected by a connecting rod which then in turn connects to the crankshaft which produces a rotational movement. For each explosion the piston undergoes in the cylinder, the crankshaft is rotated a little more. The connecting rod connections for the all pistons are evenly spaced out at different intervals on the crankshaft as well, so that the four pistons (in this example) means that a different part of the crankshaft is moved along in each rotation. Couple this together with thousands of revolutions a minute, produces a very powerful engine able to move a heavy car along the road.

Need further engine advice from a garage in Bath?

So that hopefully gives you some more insight into the workings of your car’s engine and you’re not left in the dark when you next speak to a car mechanic or enthusiast. Remember, if you’re engine’s having problems and you need a friendly Bath based garage to take a look at it, feel free to give us a call on 01761 415 501 and book an appointment with us or send us an email. We’d be only too happy to help you.