The Parts of a Car Engine: A Comprehensive Overview
We might be moving towards electric mobility and alternative-fuels powered vehicles but let's not forget, it was the internal combustion engines where all the magic began. Known as the heart of a conventional automobile, a car engine is a complex piece of machinery and art. Thousands of mechanical and electronic parts work in tandem to make your beloved possession go like a dream. The parts of a car engine are aligned in a way to strike the perfect between efficiency and performance while also offering a pleasant experience to the driver and the occupants of the car.
Car Engine: Names of Parts that Make it Happen
Talking about the car engine parts names, well, there are plenty of them. From the components of the combustion chambers to the parts of the exhaust gases treatment assembly and turbocharger, a typical car engine of the 21st century has got them all. With the advent of technology in the global automotive industry, the innovation quotient of modern-day automobiles has risen exponentially. Hence, what used to be the flagship technology of the past can now be seen deployed in budget vehicles well, for instance, airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.
Today, with this blog, we'll look at the process of how a car engine works step by step through the anatomy of a car engine to see its parts and components. We have compiled a comprehensive list of car engine parts that are the most important in making a car engine work properly and to the best of its efficiency and performance levels. So, without further ado, let's scroll down to know more about the most crucial parts of a car engine and their function and see how they contribute to the characteristics of an internal combustion engine. Please note that here we are considering both petrol and diesel engines. Any part that is exclusive to either one of them would be given a special mention. So, let's get started!
1: Engine Block
Topping the list of car engine parts is the engine block. It can be known as the house of all the car engine main parts. It is usually made of cast iron or aluminium. The engine block has a well-defined pattern of holes and vents to make space for the cylinders as well as housing the cooling, lubrication and combustion assembly. Not just that, the engine block also contains some of the fundamental and most significant components of a car engine, such as the crankshaft, camshaft, pistons, and all the cylinders. Be it a single-cylinder engine or a W16 one, all of them are contained in the Engine Block only.
Depending on the layout of the engine, being an inline, boxer, flat or a V, the shape of the engine block can change. Among all parts of a car engine, the engine block bears the most flex as it is the mounting point and because it houses the main parts of a car engine and the electrical parts of a car engine.
In the chronological order of importance and functionality, the next car engine part that comes up is the piston or Pistons (in the case of multi-cylinder engines.) A piston is a fire-breathing monster in an internal combustion engine. Well, quite literally because they are the components that create the internal combustion in an internal combustion engine, be it a diesel engine or petrol.
Talking about the shape of a piston, they are cylindrical in shape with a flat surface to compress the air-fuel mixture. The pistons are designed in such a way that they convert the most amount of thermal en+-ergy generated into mechanical energy and transfer it to the parts of an engine, such as the crankshaft, which eventually moves the vehicle by overcoming the rolling friction. When the spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chambers, the movement of the piston happens. This process happens in petrol engines, however, for typical diesel engines, the air-fuel mixture is ignited by compressing it by the force of the pistons.
The primary function of pistons is to get the crankshaft rotating, which eventually spins the wheels via the transmission of a vehicle. The pistons also contain piston rings that act as a sealant to generate and maintain the compression ratio inside the combustion chamber and protect the piston from wear and tear against a cylinder's inner wall.
3: Cylinder Head
Another essential component in the car engine parts list is the cylinder head. As suggested by its name, it sits on top of a cylinder block and is sealed with a rubber layer called a gasket to prevent any loss of gases from the combustion chamber.
The cylinder head is home to many of the small but very substantial components of an internal combustion engine that aid in the overall functioning. The list of these car engine parts include lifters, valves, valve springs, pushrods, rocker arms, camshafts, belt drive assemblies. Basically, this entire assembly of multiple components is responsible for regulating the airflow in the combustion chamber for all the strokes of a combustion cycle. They not only channelise the intake airflow but also regulate the passage of exhaust gases leaving the engine.
The oil pan and the lower part of the cylinder block together are called the crankcase. It is the bottom portion of the cylinder block, in which the crankshaft is fitted.
- Crankcase is a rigid structure made of aluminium or grey cast iron. It is either cast separately and attached to the block with bolts or it can be cast integrally with the engine block.
- The crankcase has a simple shape like that of a box but without a bottom. It's bottom half is formed by an oil pan or sump.
- The crankcase is designed to support the main bearings and journals of the crankshaft, helping them maintain their axis of rotation's alignment under different engine loads.
- The crankcase gets support with the help of several bearings that are called the main bearings.
5: Oil Pan
The crankcase's bottom half is made up of an oil pan or sump which is attached to the crankcase with the help of set screws and a gasket that makes the joint leak proof. This oil pan at the bottom of the crankcase serves as a reservoir to store, and cool the engine lubricating oil.
The bottom of the oil pan contains a drain plug that is used to drain out the used, dirty oil. Generally, the pan is constructed out of aluminium alloy casting or pressed steel sheet.
The Various Functions of the Oil Pan are as Follows:
- It stores oil for the lubrication system of the engine.
- It collects the return oil draining.
- It serves as a container for foreign matters and impurities.
- It provides space for cooling of the hot oil.
- Oil is drawn from the oil pan by the oil pump and then delivered to all the working parts of the car's engine.
- The oil from all these parts drains off and runs down back into the pan.
- Thus, a constant circulation of oil between the oil pan and the other parts of the engine is maintained.
The exhaust Manifold is a separate set of pipes that are attached to the cylinder head and carry the mixture of air and fuel with the exhaust gases. They are usually made out of cast iron so they can withstand the extremely high temperatures of the exhaust gases.
- It consists of the throttle body, air intake, one intake manifold flange for tail-pipe, and one flange for a carburettor.
- As the air passes through the air intake, it travels through the throttle body and then into the intake manifold. From there, the air passes through the cylinder head into the engine.
- The air-fuel mixture is then carried by the inlet manifold from the carburettor to the engine cylinders.
Gaskets provide a rigid, tight-fitting joint or connection between two surfaces.
Gaskets are Found Between:
- The cylinder block and the cylinder head
- The crankcase and its oil pan
- The cylinder block and manifold.
Materials Used for Gaskets:
Requirement/Properties of the Gasket as Follows:
- Conformity: The gaskets should conform to the mating surfaces which may have roughness or warpage.
- Resistance: It should have resistance to high pressures, extreme temperature and vibrations.
- Impermeability: The gasket must be impermeable to the fluid.
- Resistance to chemical attack: the gasket should be resistant to the chemicals such as fuel, products of combustion, coolant and engine oil.
- Provision of apertures: The gasket must have apertures for any studs, bolts, opening etc.
Types of Gaskets Used in Engines:
- Copper-asbestos gasket.
- Steel-asbestos gasket.
- Steel-asbestos-copper gasket.
- Single steel ridged or corrugated gasket.
- Stainless steel gasket.
8: Cylinder Liners
Cylinder liners are cylindrical-shaped structures that are used in the cylinders to minimise its wear. They are one of the most critical functional parts that make up the engine's interior.
Cylinder liners of the engine cylinder are made by casting a special alloy iron that contains manganese, nickel, silicon, and chromium. They need to be replaced when they wear out.
Usually, cylinder liners are cast centrifugally. They are quite resistant to wear and corrosion and hence, provide considerably longer engine life.
Well, it's a common notion in the automobile industry and amongst automobile enthusiasts that the cruciality of the parts of a car engine is decided by how much they can inhibit the vehicle's movement if they break down. In that regard, the crankshaft is the most critical component after the engine itself) of an internal combustion engine assembly. Why? Well, it is the place where power changes hands.
The engine generates raw power through the combustion in the cylinders, which pushes the pistons down. These pistons are connected to the crankshaft via connecting rods, and this crankshaft is further connected to the transmission of the vehicle. The crankshaft is the ultimate stage for power before its being sent to the transmission. Hence, no matter how many cylinders your engine has got, it will be a stalked engine if the crankshaft isn't working. Talking about the mechanicals, the crankshaft is a long, perfectly balanced metal rod.
The camshaft can be placed at either of two locations, either in the engine block or on the cylinder heads, based on the engine configuration. However, the latest engine technology consisting of a Dual Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) or Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC) has the camshaft placed in the cylinder head.
The camshaft controls the timing of valves opening and closing to regulate the amount and timing of the entry of the air-fuel mixture and exit of the exhaust gases from the combustion chamber. This entire cycle involves other components as well, such as the pushrods, rockers, and valves.
So, there were some of the essential car engine parts. The car engine parts list can go on and on as there are numerous parts of a car engine. However, the ones mentioned above are the most fundamental and vital parts of a car engine. They are present in nearly every internal combustion engine, irrespective of the fuel and technology. Now, we'll look at some of the most frequently asked questions about car engine parts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1. What are car engine main parts?
Ans. As stated above, the main car engine parts are the engine block, cylinders, pistons, cylinders heads, crankshaft, camshaft, spark plugs, rocker arm, etc.
Q 2. Where to buy parts for cars?
Ans. Given the complex nature of car parts and especially car engine parts, one should buy them only from authorised and trusted sellers. They can also be purchased from credible automotive eCommerce platforms such as Carorbis.com.
Q 3. How many parts are there in an engine?
Ans. There are thousands of them, to be precise. Depending on the complexity of the engine, the number of parts increases substantially. The number of moving parts also varies from one type to another type of engine, such as internal combustion, hybrid or alternate fuel-powered engine.
Q 4. How to clean engine parts? How many parts are there in an engine?
Ans. The proximity to roads and the continuous exposure to heat and stress can cause engine parts to collect layers of deposits such as sludge, grease, dust, etc. Hence, they need to be cleaned thoroughly and at regular intervals. There are three main methods to clean an engine:
- Wet cleaning
- Abrasive blast cleaning
- Thermal cleaning
The wet cleaning method is the most widely deployed method in automotive workshops where the affected components are submerged into a cleaning solution and then installed back in place.
Q 5. How to identify car engine parts?
Ans. Well, you can refer to the owner's manual of the particular car where the engine parts would be clearly mentioned. The best practice to identify an engine part is noting down the Vehicle Information Number or VIN and then matching it with the brand dealers. Car dealers and OEMs register the vehicle data with respect to the VIN.
Q 6. How to identify the type of engine?
Ans. You can take a look at the cylinder head. The number of pipes in the exhaust manifold depict the number of cylinders. Usually, most smaller capacity engines are inline engines where the cylinders are placed in line with respect to each other. However, the higher-performing engines are more likely to be V-type which have the cylinders stacked in the form of V.