How Cars Work


Many people have pulled back their custom car covers and realized that they’re not certain how their cars actually work. While most people do understand that it has to do with how gasoline combusts inside of the engine, they’re not as clear on how exactly internal combustion works. If you’ve ever wondered how your car works, here’s a more detailed explanation:

How an engine works


Internal Combustion


The basic principle behind an internal combustion engine is fairly simple: a small amount of gasoline is placed into a small area and ignited. The energy released from this ignition explodes outward as an expanding gas. This exploding gas presses against the piston, making it move. This movement is transferred to the crankshaft via a connecting rod. The crankshaft revolves back into its starting position before being pushed upwards again.


The basic steps in combustion:

  1. The intake valve opens

  2. The piston drops down, letting in air and a drop of gasoline

  3. The piston moves upward, compressing the air and gasoline

  4. When the piston gets to the top, it causes the spark plug to create a spark

  5. The spark sets off the explosion, which then pushes the piston down

  6. This turns the crankshaft

  7. When the piston reaches the bottom, the exhaust valve is opened, sending the exhaust out to the vehicle’s tailpipe

  8. The movement of the crankshaft then moves the wheels, propelling the car forward


Different Kinds of Engines

There are a couple of different types of internal combustion engines. One is the gas turbine engine, which costs much more to manufacture than a traditional internal combustion engine. Another is an external combustion engine. These were often seen on old vehicles that were steam powered. The combustion took place outside of the main engine. External engines were much less efficient and were much larger than internal engines.

Additional Cylinders

The engine casing in your car covers the piston, but if you were to remove it, you would see that many vehicles actually have more than one piston. Some engines have four, while others have six or even eight. These cylinders can be arranged in several different ways. Some engines have inline cylinders, while others have them arranged in a V shape or positioned horizontally opposite each other. There are pros and cons to each of these advantages, some of which work better for specific vehicles than others.

Protecting your Engine

Even though it’s under the hood, you still need to protect your car’s engine. This involves changing the oil regularly, making certain the engine isn’t out of water, and using the correct type of gas. You may also want to keep your car in the garage or cover it with a cover from Car Covers dot com. The outline above is simply a very basic way of how a car works—there are many other parts and processes involved, and if any one of them fails, your car may not start or may not be safe to drive. Make certain you keep your car in good shape so that it continues to work.