Do you know what goes on under the hood of your vehicle? This depends on the type and configuration of the engine. Here are five things every car owner should know about these tubes, wires, and pipes in 2021.

How Engines Work: Key Principles

Predominantly, cars, trucks, and SUVs have a four-stroke model, as you can see from, one of the biggest databases of manufacturers and brands. Internal combustion includes four steps: intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. Here is how this works.

Inside the engine, fuel and air are ignited, which causes a controlled explosion within the cylinders. The latter are metal tubes. Each has a crankshaft on one side and a spark plug with two valves on the other.

Cylinders hold pistons — pumps. They are affixed to the crankshaft and slide vertically, retracting power generated by the explosion. Air and gas are pulled in, and exhaust is released through the valves.

So, what happens when you turn the ignition key in your car? First, the spark plug triggers gas ignition to move the pistons, which then turn the crankshaft. The momentum is transferred to the gearbox. As a result, your vehicle can move.

Three Possible Layouts

Most commonly, vehicles are equipped with engines of an inline or straight layout. This is when the cylinders are vertical and positioned side by side. As a result, such engines are smaller but still powerful.

Another possible layout is the “V” shape. In this case, the cylinders are positioned at a 60° angle. You can see these systems on supercars and premium vehicles. This peculiar shape allows manufacturers to include many cylinders.

Finally, some models have a flat layout, which is also known as a “boxer.” In it, the cylinders are positioned horizontally. This type is most common for Porsche vehicles.

Types of Cylinder Arrangement

The more cylinders — the more powerful the engine. This rule was universal before turbochargers and fuel injection appeared. Here is how these two enhancements work.

As the term suggests, fuel injection includes direct delivery of fuel into the combustion chamber. This is different from carburetors, as their operation is based on suction from the pistons. The injection technology is used in diesel engines. Its key advantages include enhanced power, fuel efficiency, and a better throttle response.

The second possible alternative, the turbocharger, provides stronger compression for the combustion chamber. This increases the output of energy, so the engine is more efficient. Like injection, this system is an alternative to using more cylinders. A turbocharger is often added to vehicles that have an inline four-cylinder engine.

Small sustainable engines may rely on just two cylinders. Three cylinders, usually in a straight arrangement, are found on compact vehicles like the Mitsubishi Mirage. These engines are compact, affordable, and fuel-efficient. In comparison, supercars may have 6, 8, or even more cylinders.

Regular Check Are a Must

The engine of your car is its heart, and it requires regular checks. To keep the system fit and functional, you should perform a combination of maintenance procedures at regular intervals. Do not wait for the check engine light to alert you! Here are five critical precautions.

Check Engine Oil Levels

With little oil, the moving parts of the engine will wear and tear quickly. Secondly, it is thanks to oil that the system can function despite all the dirt or sediments that get into it. To keep the engine well-lubricated, check the levels monthly and add more oil whenever necessary.

The oil grade and frequency of change are determined by the manufacturer. The filter may need replacement, too. It gathers junk and prevents regulation back into the engine, which is crucial for smooth performance.

Check the Cooling System

Over the decades, the efficiency of engines has grown substantially. However, they still lose a lot of energy in the process of combustion. The heat is not friendly to the metals and alloys the engine parts are made from. This makes coolant absolutely crucial.

Make sure there is enough of it in the tank. The perfect ratio for heat dissipation is 1:1 (coolant versus distilled water). On hot days, keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge. If the vehicle is about to overheat, shut it down immediately.

Look for Leaks

Watch out for any leaks. After pulling out of the driveway, stop and examine the parking spot. You could also open the hood to identify any leakage. If there is a problem, drive to the nearest mechanic ASAP.

Check the Fuel Level

Sediments from gasoline settle at the bottom of your car’s tank. The longer you drive — the thicker the layer. Do not let it reach your engine and spoil it. Drivers must avoid running on reserve fuel at all costs. Top up the tank regularly.

Some Parts Need Replacement

Certain engine elements must be replaced. As we have mentioned, the oil filter, which collects the fuel junk, is not immortal. If it is too dirty, replace it. The same applies to the air filter. Let your vehicle breathe freely! A constricted airflow reduces mileage and increases emissions.

Next, pay attention to the spark plug and wires. The former is your fire starter which triggers the ignition of air and fuel inside the cylinders. These parts are long-lasting, but they still require maintenance and replacement occasionally. Do some cleaning to get rid of the soot surrounding the electrode.

Are your rubber belts making a squealing noise when the engine is running? They need replacement. Cracks and other signs of wear are red flags. Do not wait for the belts to break while you are driving. This causes serious and expensive damage.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the most important aspects of car engine maintenance. Knowing what is inside your vehicle is a must. Check your engine regularly and replace its elements when necessary. This will extend the lifespan of your car’s heart.

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