Ever wondered what’s going on beneath the hood of your car? Most of us use our vehicles as our primary means of transport, and yet so many of us have no idea how they work. To help you get to know the inner workings of your car, we’ve created this basic guide to understanding the anatomy of your engine and the other components under your hood.
Engines Come in Many Shapes and Sizes
There are countless configurations for engines, just as there are countless models of cars. We’re going to use a four-stroke engine as our example for this article. The engine block is the foundation of every engine – it is sometimes referred to as a “cylinder block” due to the large tubes in the structurer. The cylinder is where the engine’s pistons slide up and down and engines with more cylinders are more powerful.
Some of the components you’ll find under the hood (working from left to right) include:
- Radiator reservoir: used for coolant overflow
- Power steering check-and-fill: this is for power steering fluid
- Brake fluid reservoir: used for checking and topping up brake fluid
- Transmission dipstick: fill and check the transmission fluid here
- Air filter: supplies the carburettor with clean air
- Fuse box: this protects the wiring
- Radiator cap: controls the expansion of the coolant
- Engine oil fill cap: used to add oil after you’ve checked it with the dipstick
- Dipstick: a measuring stick used to check the engine oil level
- Air conditioning components: where the refrigerant is used to cool your car
- Battery: supplies electrical current to start the engine
- Serpentine belt: this wraps around and drives the pulleys, including the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump, etc.
- Alternator: generates electrical power and recharges the battery
- Fan shroud: assists with cooling the vehicle
How Does a Car Engine Work?
There are a number of components that work in harmony within your engine to propel your car forward. Your car engine converts fuel into motion, and some newer “hybrid” engines use batteries to assist the process.
Converting fuel is called “internal combustion” where small, controlled explosions generate the power your car needs to move. Creating an explosion in a small space, such as the piston, releases a massive amount of energy as expanded gas. Your car’s engine does this hundreds of times per minute.
The Four-Stroke Combustion Cycle
Car engines use a four-stroke combustion cycle, these strokes are intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.
- Intake – the intake valve opens and the piston moves down, bringing air and gas into the engine.
- Compression – the piston moves up and pushes the air and gas into a smaller space.
- Combustion – the spark plug ignites and explodes the gas, forcing the piston back down.
- Exhaust – the exhaust valve opens to release waste gas created by the explosion. It is cleaned by the catalytic converter and then pushed through the muffler and out of the tailpipe.
Looking after Your Engine Properly
It’s crucial to stay up to date on your car’s log book servicing to protect the engine against potential damage. If you need transmission repair or the log book servicing Perth residents can trust, come to MV Auto. Call us on 0405 811 618 or contact us online.