How Exactly Does a Car Engine Work?

Watch this video to find out how a car engine works. Except for electric cars, all other car engines are heat engines. They burn gasoline or other fossil fuels to produce energy that moves the vehicle. Car engines take a four-stroke cycle; intake, compression, combustion, and power.

Several auto parts work in tandem to make the engine function. During the intake cycle, the piston moves down the cylinder.

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The movement opens the intake valves to draw air and fuel into the cylinder chamber. The air passes through air filters. The piston then moves up to compress the air-fuel mixture within the camber in the second phase of the cycle, known as compression. As it moves up, the intake valves close, creating a sealed, pressurized environment for the mixture. The combustion stroke follows next when a spark is released to ignite the fuel, which burns and expands. The expansion pushes the piston down to unleash the power stroke. The piston connects to the crankshaft and transfers that power to rotate it and other moving parts of the vehicle.

Imagine it in terms of a bicycle pedal. The piston moves up in the fourth and final cycle to push exhaust gases out of the engine. Car engines have 4 or 6 pistons arranged in a line or V patterns. The pistons fire alternatingly for smooth running.