Although there are numerous parts that go into building an engine, the basic parts necessary for combustion are the block, head, ignition system, air intake, and fuel injection. A diesel engine is the same in every sense but uses glow plugs to warm up the engine for initial ignition rather than spark plugs. A diesel engine compresses the fuel with enough pressure to create self-combustion in the cylinders.
Parts of an Engine | How Does a Car Engine Work?
The basic parts operate as nothing more than a synchronized air pump by sucking in high volumes of oxygen to facilitate combustion and pumping out the burnt byproduct through the exhaust ports.
Because the engine is essentially an air pump, tuners will increase the performance by doing something called porting the head. But, when the head of the engine is ported, it loses back-pressure as the tradeoff for quickly dispelling exhaust gases. In order to retain proper pressures, the vehicle can be fitted with a supercharger or turbocharger that will help pressurize the air flowing into the engine. The ported head has larger openings for the exhaust and intake gases to flow and is usually sought after as a final step for minimal gains in an already upgraded system.
Tuners will also gain horsepower by adding high-flow exhaust systems that do not restrict the volume of exhaust that can flow through it like stock systems. These high-flow exhaust systems may be a bit louder from the air pressure and lack of restrictive mufflers. They generally have straighter tubing that is also of a wider gauge and high-flow catalytic converter honeycombs that can manage the increased volume. They increase horsepower for very little investment by as much as 3 to 5 horses.
The air intake manifold draws in the air through the throttle body from a mechanical meter or sensor that helps to regulate the respective fuel level. In some vehicles, this is called the mass air flow sensor. Others may have a Mass Air Pressure (MAP) sensor or both. The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor is essentially a heated wire which detects air temperature variations passing over it.
The Mass Air Pressure sensor helps to determine varying volumes of air by metering the pressure. The colder the air that enters the intake, the denser the oxygen level will be and, thus, the more fuel it can combust. The MAF and MAP sensors provide readings to the Engine Control Unit (ECU) along with many other sensors. The ECU calculates the correct level of atomized fuel to inject by varying the duration of injection
pulse width. The pulse width is the measure of time that the magnetic solenoids in the injectors are to remain open.
The ideal fuel to air mixture is something called Stoich (the stoichiometric mixture ratio). Stoichiometry is a study that calculates reactants and products in chemical reactions that is often used in engineering. Stoich for a gasoline engine is 14.7 pounds of air for every pound of fuel. Yet, because air could have varying oxygen levels at colder temperatures, this formula is tweaked by using something called fuel mapping. The fuel mapping is a memory of running conditions that your engine encounters and the computation of data received by various oxygen, temperature, and pressure sensors to fine-tune the fuel ratio.
The air enters the head of the engine where the valve train sits. The valves in the head open when each piston is on its downstroke. During the downstroke, each piston creates a negative pressure vacuum that causes the air to quickly enter the combustion chamber.
Once the piston reaches its compression stroke a moment later, the spark from the spark plug ignites the atomized fuel and air mixture to thrust the piston back into the down position. At the same time, the piston opposite of it races up to compress the fuel and air mixture in its chamber because they are both connected to a crankshaft within the base of the engine that sends one up whenever the other ignites and thrusts down.
Of course, not all engines have an equal number of pistons but can still maintain enough inertia to make the need for such harmonic balance unnecessary. Some engines will even turn off the firing of particular cylinders without missing any synchronicity or smoothness as a means of conserving fuel. On top of this, even the valve train themselves can be open to manipulation using variable timing that is based on oil pressure or other inputs to achieve the highest level of performance.
The exhaust valves open in like manner to intake valves but with a delay because they are on a slightly elliptical track from the lobes of the camshaft in the head. The exhaust is expelled from the engine and, at times, recirculated into a turbocharger or EGR valve.
An EGR valve is an invention created to maximize the efficiency of diesel engines by recirculating exhaust back into the engine for more complete combustion. The turbocharger, on the other hand, spools up energy from the exhaust pressure. The pressure spins its internal turbine which in turn drives an air compressor. The compressor pumps higher volumes of oxygen into the engine to promote stronger combustion.
Today, gasoline engines are being fine-tuned and re-engineered to perform more like diesel engines for the sake of improving emissions and fuel efficiency. Most of the popular gasoline engines available today have both port injection and direct injection. Port injection is the standard method in use since the invention of fuel injection. Port injection mixes the fuel with the incoming air in the head before it enters the combustion chamber. By contrast, the direct injection method directly injects fuel into the combustion chamber at the moment of ignition.
Conclusion | Car Engine Parts
The technology of engines continues to improve. If you want a truly fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle, it is worth upgrading to the latest models. There is no reason to hang onto aging dinosaur technologies that promote basic combustion without all the refinements that have evolved over the years.
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