Can You Correctly Answer These Easy, Medium, and Hard Engine Questions?


By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you have gears in your head? Can you see parts in a junkyard and know exactly where they go in an engine? Are you able to correctly identify a car just by hearing the engine rev as it passes by? You might be unique because most people know very little about engines. 

It might seem crazy but consider for a moment that modern engines have hundreds, if not thousands of components in them. Some are smaller than a dime, while others, like the crankshaft, are massive and heavy. All these parts must be made to exacting specifications and installed with extreme precision, otherwise, the engine might not run, or it might run improperly. It's a miracle our cars operate as well as they do, considering the sheer complexity of engines. 

Keeping all these components, not to mention how they're supposed to operate and interact with each other, straight is difficult, to say the least. This is why mechanics go through intense training and certifications. Just how far does your knowledge of engines extend? Can you answer these easy, medium, and hard questions? Take the quiz now! 

What should you do before changing your oil?

There's a reason why you're not supposed to push your engine hard before it warms up to operating temperature: the oil won't flow as well. The same is true about getting the most debris and filth out of the crankcase when you do an oil change.


When bolting together any components in an engine, how do you decide the tightness of bolts?

Automakers use vast teams of engineers to create engines, and they know exactly how you should reassemble any portion of it. Get the torque specs for your engine before working on it, and use your torque wrench faithfully.


When doing a valve adjustment job, which of the following items do you not need?

If you can change the oil on your vehicle, a valve adjustment job shouldn't be beyond your capabilities. It can take several hours, depending on the engine, so set aside ample time.


What part of the spark plug must you adjust when installing them?

If you don't have a spark plug gap tool, you can get one for extra cheap. While spark plugs come gapped, they might not be to the specifications for your engine.


If the valve seals on your engine are going out, what will it likely do?

Valve seals are designed to keep the oil, which is needed to lubricate the different parts in the cylinder head, from leaking into the cylinders, where it will burn up, creating plumes of smoke coming from the tailpipe.


Which of the following wouldn't trigger a car's check engine light?

While the check engine light may have to do with a serious engine-related issue, many times it's triggered by emissions sensors either not working or noting a fault somewhere, but you shouldn't ignore the light.


What does the rev limiter do?

A rev limiter protects the engine by keeping it from hitting certain RPMs. If you go beyond the red line on the gauge, engine damage will occur, at least at a certain point.


What causes flames to shoot out the tailpipe of some cars?

The only way flames will shoot out of an exhaust is if a lot of gas isn't burning in the cylinders from a rich mixture, and then it combusts in the exhaust.


A roots-type supercharger is driven by what portion of the engine?

A blower or roots supercharger is driven by a belt and works as a positive displacement lobe pump, of course pumping more air into the engine.


What's the primary function of an engine mount?

Engine mounts provide a secure anchor to the car's structure, plus they're designed to reduce how many vibrations travel from the engine into the rest of the car, improving comfort and reducing noise.


What do glow plugs in a diesel engine do?

Too often, people think glow plugs are like spark plugs, when in reality their purpose is to defrost the fuel when temperatures drop too low, all so the engine will start.


Which of the following isn't an element necessary for an engine to achieve combustion?

While compression of the fuel and air mixture before the spark comes into the picture is also a necessary element, it doesn't require the use of a supercharger.


Which component in the engine first transforms the force of combustion into torque?

While the camshafts do spin, they're what controls the flow of air/fuel and exhaust gases, while the crankshaft is the first component to spin as a result of the forces created by combustion, so it originates all torque output.


What does nitrous oxide do when it enters an engine?

Nitrous oxide works to cool the intake air more, which means there are more oxygen molecules inside the cylinders, allowing the engine to use more fuel for a more potent burn, which leads to more power.


What's a term commonly used for a device that lifts an engine into and out of a car?

An engine hoist or cherry picker is able to slide into a secure position, so you have the right support for installing or taking out an engine, although you should still double-check your work.


What's the purpose of warming up an engine on a cold morning?

When temperatures take a dive, the oil in your engine doesn't flow as freely. As the engine heats up, the oil will start to flow as it should, but that should only take a few minutes before the car's driveable.


What feature on some engines allows you to adjust the valves with greater ease?

If your engine needs valve adjustments semi-regularly, valve covers make the job easier since you don't have to remove the entire cylinder head cover to access the valves.


What from an engine powers a turbocharger?

The turbines inside a turbocharger are spun by exhaust gases, which then suck in fresh air to be sent to the engine, boosting performance quite literally.


What does engine displacement measure?

Engine displacement is a measure of the swept volume for all pistons as they travel inside the cylinders of the engine, starting from top dead center to bottom dead center.


Where did the boxer engine get its name?

Boxer engines feature a flat cylinder configuration, where the pistons on each side alternate their strokes, so from above it looks like a boxer punching with one glove and then the other.


Changing the oil helps with all except which of the following items?

While most people know that clean, fresh oil is good for lubrication, it provides other benefits you usually don't think about.


What is another term for an engine "missing"?

Engines normally run quite smoothly, but misfires happen when the fuel isn't combusting as it should. This can be caused by a fault with the spark plugs or fuel delivery, along with a ​few other rare problems.


What kind of oil should you put in your engine?

On most cars, the recommended oil type is printed on the oil fill cap. If not, you can find it in the owner's manual or call your local dealer to get that info.


What do you call the uneven portions of a camshaft?

You can call these various sections lobes or journals. Their function is to control when the valves open, for how long, and how much.


The flywheel helps smooth out what?

Like it or not, torque output from your engine doesn't stay the same, which is why there's a torque curve when you put your car on a dyno. The flywheel helps smooth that out for more predictable performance.


What does a carburetor do in an older engine?

Compared to electronic fuel injection, carburetors aren't nearly as efficient, partly because they don't adjust the air-fuel mixture based on changing factors like ambient temperature.


What is the water jacket in your engine?

The purpose of the water jacket is to keep your engine cool enough that you're not dealing with overheating of any kind, making it a critical part of the engine design.


What do you call the deep passageways that provide you access to the spark plugs?

You'll need an extension and special spark plug attachment for your socket wrench to remove or install spark plugs, thanks to the wells being so deep.


What does it mean if you need to jump start your engine?

Quite literally, needing to jump start an engine means there's no spark from the spark plugs, which could be caused by a number of electrical system issues, most likely the battery or alternator.


What is the function of your engine's air filter?

The air filter on your engine keeps deposits from dust, etc., from building inside the engine, which is why you should check your air filter regularly.


How do diesel engines combust fuel?

Through extreme compression exerted by the pistons, diesel engines ignite the fuel, which is part of the secret for why they boast such amazing fuel efficiency specs.


Which of the following isn't a benefit of integrated exhaust manifolds?

An integrated exhaust manifold can boost engine efficiency drastically, thanks to its design, but it can't be swapped out for performance headers, something tuners like to do for extracting more power.


Where does direct injection take place inside an engine?

In a direct injection engine, the fuel injectors spray right into the cylinders, usually during the final part of the compression stage, boosting power and fuel efficiency.


How many cylinders does a typical Wankel engine have?

A rotary or Wankel engine doesn't have cylinders, because their design is fundamentally different from a traditional engine.


What kind of an engine could be ruined by the timing belt breaking?

An interference engine has a design where the pistons and valves occupy the same spots inside the cylinders, just not at the same time, unless the timing belt breaks.


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