Car engine: Parts | Types | Everything you need to know.

Car engine also known as motor and it creates energy that moves the vehicle. Modern vehicles use the different types of engines. For example, internal combustion engine.

Though it isn’t our main focus today;

This type of car engine relies on a mixture of fuel and air to produce power. It means that the fuel injector pushes fuel into the combustion chamber where it mixes with air.

This mixture interacts with a spark from the spark plug during ignition. Afterwards, it burns to produce energy. The engine control unit monitors this operation amongst others.

Different internal combustion engines consume different types of fuel. In fact even the engine CC size affects the fuel consumption rate.

What is the meaning of engine CC size?

It means the amount of fuel and air mixture that the engine will use to get power in order to be fully operational. For Example, a 2000 CC engine will use 2000 cubic centimeters of air and fuel mixture.

Types of car engines.

Most people confuse the engine layouts to the different types or classes. We will differentiate these ones for you.

While generally referring to an engine, there are two types. But this classification is in relation to the way they produce energy.

Though not our main focus here.

We can generally group engines into two main types;

1. External combustion engine.

Fuel combustion takes place outside the engine. For example, a steam train.

Let’s look at car engines.

There are different methods that determine the classifications of vehicle engines;

2. Internal combustion engines.

Combustion of fuel takes place inside the engine. For example, 4 cylinder car engines.

There are different ways that someone can classify the internal combustion engines. These are;

  1. Forced induction engines. Which include the turbocharger and supercharger engines.
  2. Secondly, we have the Atkinson-cycle engines.

To say the least, the classification of internal depends on a variety of things that are inclusive of;

  1. Types of design.
  2. The fuel used by that engine.
  3. Cycle of operation.
  4. Number of strokes.
  5. Fifth is the type of ignition.
  6. Number of cylinders.
  7. Arrangement of cylinders.
  8. Valve arrangement.
  9. Types of cooling.
  10. Hybrid engines.
  11. Electric engines.

Let us go through these different types of engines.

Afterwards, we are going to look at the different engine layouts.

a. Types of engine design.

There are two main car engine classes that are under the engine design category. These are inclusive of the following;

  • Reciprocating engine.

This classification is a result of the reciprocating nature of the engine piston. Some common examples under this type of engine include the two-stroke and four stroke engines.

  • Rotary engine.

As the name suggests, this type of engine involves a rotor which produces engine power. For example, the Wankel rotary engine , turbine engines.

b. Type of fuel used.

Car engines require fuel supply in order to produce power. After forgetting current technology, you will discover that before the introduction of electric powered engines, there existed three types of engine fuels. These included;

  • Petrol engines.
  • Diesel engines.
  • Gas engines.

c. Cycle of engine operation.

This class of engines has three different classifications that are inclusive of;

  • Otto cycle engines.
  • Diesel engine cycles.
  • Dual cycle engines which uses both the Otto and diesel cycle.

d. Number of strokes.

According to mechanical-booster there are three types of engine as per the number of strokes. They are;

  • Two stroke engines.

This engine piston makes two motions, the first one from TDC to BDC and vice versa in order to produce power.

  • Four stroke engines.

This engine moves four times. Twice upwards from TDC to BDC and two times downwards from BDC to TDC within the same cycle.

e. Type of ignition.

Engines are also classified according to the type of ignition. These are;

  • Spark ignition engine.

This engine has a spark plug within the engine head in order to ignite the fuel injection and air mixture in order to produce power. This process takes place in the combustion chamber.

A faulty spark plug is one of the reasons why the car won’t start.

  • Compression ignition engine.

This type of car engine has no spark plug at the cylinder head. In fact, most of the diesel engines use compression ignition whereby the compressed air ignites the fuel/air mixture.

f. Number of cylinders.

There are three types of engines as per this classification. The cylinder is the space in which the piston moves during operation. They are inclusive of;

  • Single cylinder engine.

They are mostly utilized in motorcycles and scooters. This type of engine has a single cylinder because there isn’t need for much engine power.

  • Double cylinder engine.

It consists of double cylinder in which the piston moves up and down.

  • Multi-cylinder engines.

These are engines that have more than two cylinders. Further, these engines usually have between three to sixteen cylinders.

g. Arrangement of cylinders.

After looking at the number of cylinders in an engine, we look at the types of engines according to the arrangement of cylinders. They include the following;

  • Vertical engine.

The cylinders are arranged in a vertical position. This isn’t common for engines that have more than one cylinder.

  • Horizontal engine.

Horizontal arrangement is the form of arrangement whereby the cylinders are placed next to each other within the engine.

  • Radial engine.

This type of engine has cylinders that radiate outwards from a central crankcase. Another name for this engine is a star engine because the front view makes a star-like appearance.

  • W-type engine.

The cylinders are arranged in three rows such that it forms an arrangement that appears like the letter W. It is a common design amongst the twelve and sixteen cylinder vehicles.

  • Opposed cylinder engine.

As the name suggests, the cylinders are on opposite sides of each other. The piston shows an identical movement during power production. This design also affects the size of the engine. Whereby, these engines have a larger size.

h. Valve arrangement.

The valve arrangement of the exhaust and inlet valves in the cylinder head or engine block classifies the engine into four categories. The name of these categories is summed up as ‘LIFT’ because the categories are L,I,F and T.

  • L- Head engine.

This design has the exhaust and inlet valves arranged side by side. Further, they operate using a single camshaft and the cylinder and combustion chambers make an L-shape.

  • I-Head engine.

The cylinder head houses the inlet and exhaust valvetrain. In fact, these valves are combined into one valve which accomplishes each of their function.

  • F-Head engine.

This is a combination of both the I-engine and F-engine design. Further, the inlet valve lies within the head while the exhaust valvetrain is found within the cylinder block.

Additionally, a single camshaft operates both of these valves.

  • T-Head Engines.

In this engine, both the inlet and exhaust valves are located in the cylinder. Further, these two valves are are located on opposite sides of each other.

Additionally, this engine design has two camshafts to help in operation. The two camshafts are subdivided for the inlet valve and another for the exhaust valvetrain.

i. Type of cooling system.

The engine cooling system parts are very important in order to prevent the engine from overheating. Engines may be classified into two classes when considering the cooling system. These are;

  • Air cooled engines.

This type of engine relies on metal fans. Further, these engines need an increase in surface area for better cooling which results to an adoption of separate engine cylinder barrels.

Additionally, the metal fan also plays a role in increasing the surface area. They are common in motorcycles.

  • Water cooled engines.

These are suitable for vehicles and other automobiles. It involves the addition of an anti-freeze agent in the water to prevent it from freezing during old weather.

Further, it is important to remember that every water cooled engine has a radiator which cools the hot water.

j. Hybrid engines.

They are powered by both an internal combustion system and one or more electric motors. The electric motors use the electric power which is stored in batteries.

These engines are different from the electric vehicle engines because you cannot plug them into a charging system. Their battery gets power from the process of regenerative braking.

Additionally, the battery also gets power from the combustion process within the engine.

k. Electric engines.

In this type of car engine, the internal combustion engine is usually replaced by the electric motor. They are plugged into a charging system which tops up the electric battery power.

Car Engine Parts.

In this we are about to look at the basic parts that make up the car engine. These parts are purely dependent on the vehicle engine design.

The core of the engine is the engine cylinder which houses the piston and the valvetrain. Above we saw that the engine cylinder arrangement determines the engine design.

The number of cylinders and their arrangement determines the manufacturing cost and the shape characteristics.

Some key engine parts are inclusive of the following;

1. Spark plug.

This is the part of the vehicle engine that supplies the electric charge that ignites the air and fuel injection mixture within the combustion chamber.

The spark must be provided within the right time to make sure that there is no engine trouble. Performing an engine check will prevent some issues that could prevent the spark plug from producing a spark at the appropriate time.

2. Valves.

Valves open up at the right time in order to allow the engine power production process. Exhaust valves open up to let fumes out of the engine.

The intake valvetrain opens up to let in air for combustion. But both valves are usually closed during the process of combustion.

3. Piston.

You will find the piston inside the cylinder. This is a metal that moves up and down in the engine cylinder to produce sufficient power for the vehicle’s movement.

4. Piston rings.

They are found on the outer edge parts of the piston. Further, they’re in contact with the inner edge of the cylinder.

These piston rings prevent the fuel/air mixture and exhaust fumes from leaking into the sump during combustion.

Secondly, the piston rings keep oil going to the oil filter from leaking into the combustion chamber. Oil leakage symptoms include the car producing a thick white smoke.

5. Connecting rod.

This facilitates a connection between the piston and the crankshaft. Additionally, the connecting rode is able to adjust its angle in relation to the piston’s movement and crankshaft rotation.

6. Crankshaft.

The car engine crankshaft is responsible for influencing the motion of the engine piston. Further, the car engine crankshaft takes the pistons up and down motion and changes it into a circular motion.

7. Sump.

It is the part that surrounds the crankshaft. Another name for the sump is the oil pan. Because it contains oil which acts as a lubricant for the crankshaft.

8. Camshaft.

In some cases, it is known as the main part of the engine. This reputation is because of the crucial role it plays in relation to the engine’s valvetrain.

The camshaft is responsible for controlling the timing of opening and closing of the valvetrain. This is possible because the camshaft presses the end of the valve system.

9. Engine block and cylinders.

Lastly, the engine block is the main area of the car’s engine. Because it houses all the engine components. For example, Pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft.

The engine block is subdivided into three parts which include, the block, cylinder head and crankcase. The engine block has a number of holes.

These engine block holes contain cylinders which affect engine displacement. But this displacement is also affected by the diameter of the holes.

Additionally, the car engine holes offer the essential oil and coolant flow paths. These are essential because they provide lubrication and cooling effect.

10. Timing belt/chain.

Its main function is to regulate the rotation of the camshaft or crankshaft. It ensures a synchronized motion within the engine block parts.

This synchronization is important because the valvetrain open in a timely manner that relies on the piston’s position.

Additionally, the synchronization helps in the avoidance of piston-valve contact.

11. Combustion chamber.

This is the part of the cylinder where fuel and air mixture is ignited. This combustion process turns the mixture into mechanical power.

The fuel injector pushes fuel in while the air intake valvetrain allows air into the combustion chamber. Both of these elements have to go through the carburetor especially within any spark ignition engine.

Further, the ratios within the air and fuel mixture must be right and this is controlled by the engine control unit.

Afterwards the fuel/air mixture comes into contact with the spark plug which provides the spark which burns the mixture. Later the fumes that are produced in this process are collected within the exhaust manifold.

12. Oil filter.

The functions of engine oil include going through the engine and to offer lubrication, cooling and clean-up. Once it is done, there are debris that accumulate in the oil.

Hence hindering the oil from performing the essential functions. This is where the oil filter comes in. It ensures that the oil is clean before being recirculated into the engine once more.

This is done by the filter which eliminates any contaminants.

Car engine layout.

The engine layout is subdivided in three classes.

a. In-line engine.

It comprises of cylinders that are close to each other. They are mostly four in number. In fact it is the most common among the modern vehicles.

Additionally, it is a common layout amongst cars with less than 2000cc engines because those above this have six cylinders.

b. V-8 Engines.

The name is a giveaway that these cars will have at least eight cylinders. But this doesn’t act as a limitation because it can be found within cars that have 12-cylinders.

In fact, this engine layout may fit the cars that are have six cylinders. The layout has cylinders that are arranged opposite each other at a ninety degree angle.

c. Horizontally opposed engine.

This is an extension of the V-engine. But the difference is that the angle at which the cylinders are arranged extends to 180 degrees.

This layout helps to save space and improve balance. This layout involves the engine block housing the pistons as well as mountings for oil filters and the fuel pump.

Additionally, a sump also known as oil pan is bolted underneath the crankcase to act as a reservoir for oil lubricant.

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