Can You Name the Engine Part From a Description of Its Function?


By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you get fired up about engines? Can you say that pure fuel courses through your veins? Do the gears literally turn in your head? 

The combustion engine is a modern marvel, which is constantly being refined and improved. Few inventions have withstood the test of time like the engine. While the first few engines were far simpler, not nearly as reliable, noisier, less efficient, and rougher than what we have today, the overall principles remain largely unchanged. That's amazing all by itself. 

But, that's no to say that Karl Benz, Henry Ford, and others wouldn't be floored and/or mystified by the design and function of today's engines. Early engines might have mad a hundred or so parts in them, while modern engines contain hundreds of components. 

Just how well do you know all these many parts? It's one thing to be able to name off the different ones, and something else to know what they do. Can you name the engine part, only knowing its function? Test out your knowledge right now by taking this quiz!

As this part rotates, it controls when the valves open and close.

Some engines have a single camshaft, others have two or even four. The purpose is for the uneven lobes on them to push the valves open for different periods of time, allowing air and fuel to flow into the cylinders, and exhaust gases to flow out, at exactly the right time.


This sends oil to where it needs to be in the engine.

Oil is absolutely necessary for numerous engine parts to run and not rub against each other. Without enough oil, engine parts can create so much friction they deform or fuse together.


This part removes dust, pollen, and other debris from the air that flows into the engine.

The air filter sits in your air intake system, usually in a plastic box, but some are exposed and look like giant cones. Without a filter, the debris that flows into your engine would create quite a few performance issues.


These transfer the spark from the distributor or ignition coil to the spark plugs.

When installing ignition wires, you need to be careful to attach the wires to the correct posts on the distributor or ignition coil, and ensure the boots seal all the way around the openings in the engine.


This part is constantly spinning, smoothing out power delivery from the engine.

A flywheel is heavy, which helps it maintain constant motion, even as the torque delivery from your engine fluctuates, so you enjoy a smoother driving experience.


On some engines, you remove this to more easily adjust the valves.

If your engine needs consistent valve adjustments, the valve cover is a more convenient way to do the work, instead of having to take off the cylinder head cover for the job.


This alerts the ECU of vibrations that indicate spark knock in the cylinders.

A knock sensor can detect signs of spark knock long before you could ever perceive it, enabling the ECU to adjust timing so the problem is eliminated early.


This part allows fumes in the crankcase to escape safely.

The breather is a key component of some crankcase ventilation systems, which allows blow-by gases to escape from the crankcase, but doesn't allow air to flow into the engine.


This part sprays the precise amount of gas for each cylinder.

Fuel injectors are able to accurately measure minuscule amounts of fuel, per the commands issued by the ECU, maximizing efficiency and performance at the same time.


This part measures how much oxygen exits into the car's exhaust system.

In the exhaust manifold, the O2 sensor measures how much oxygen didn't burn in the combustion process, providing feedback to the ECU, which can adjust the air/fuel mixture accordingly.


This part removes pollutants from the engine oil.

As the oil moves around the engine, it can pick up little metal shavings, carbon deposits, etc. The filter's job is to remove all that, which is why you must replace the filter at the same time you change the oil.


This is the part of the engine where combustion happens.

The pistons, along with the connecting rods, move up and down in the cylinders, where the air and fuel mixture is compressed, ignited, and then the exhaust gases are expelled.


With this part, an airtight seal is formed between the engine block and cylinder head.

The top of the engine block and bottom of the cylinder head aren't shaped to create an airtight seal between them, not without the head gasket. This part is necessary to keep fluids and gases where they're supposed to be inside the engine.


Most of the oil in the engine naturally settles here when the car is at rest.

The oil sump is the collection reservoir for the oil. In fact, the oil pump draws oil from this area to send around the engine, since it will flow back to the sump.


This is the final part in the car's ignition system.

The spark plug literally creates a spark from the ignition system's electricity, lighting the air and fuel mixture on fire in a powerful explosion. The resulting force pushes the piston down .


When this part opens, air and fuel flow into the cylinder.

When the camshaft pushes the intake valves open, air and fuel flow into the cylinder for compression. Of course, engines with direct injection only have air flowing through the opening created by the intake valve.


This exhaust component attaches directly to the engine, allowing exhaust gases to flow out of the engine and away from the car.

The exhaust manifold contains different tubes that attach to the exhaust ports on the engine, with a gasket that sits in between it and the cylinder head.


This part pushes against the air and fuel mixture in the cylinder, compressing it.

The piston is shaped like a can, with the flat, closed side point up. The connecting rod attaches to the open side, so the piston's downward movement can transfer to the crankshaft.


This part pulls the valve closed.

Once the camshaft stops pushing the valve open, the valve spring is responsible for holding enough tension to pull it closed completely.


This part measures how quickly the crankshaft is spinning at any given time.

The engine's ECU uses feedback from the crankshaft position sensor to adjust everything from the fuel injection to the ignition timing.


This component helps transfer the downward motion of the pistons to the crankshaft.

Appropriately named, the connecting rods endure constant exposure to harsh forces inside the engine, so they must be incredibly strong, or the engine will need to be rebuilt.


This part acts like a gateway, controlling how much air flows into the intake manifold.

When you press on the "gas" pedal, you're really controlling the throttle, so essentially you're feeding the engine more air. The ECU sprays more gas into the intake manifold or cylinders as a result.


In some engine designs, this is a lever that's triggered by the camshaft, opening the valves in turn.

A rocker arm is technically an oscillating lever that can keep up with the high rate of movement from the camshaft, ensuring good engine reliability.


This is the part that holds the piston and connecting rod together.

Although it's small, the gudgeon pin has a difficult and important job: to ensure the connecting rod and piston stay together. If this part fails, you're likely looking at some serious damage.


This is the area where the fuel and air mix before entering the cylinders.

Unless a car has direct fuel injection, the intake manifold acts as the spot for mixing the air and fuel in advance of it flowing into the engine.


All exhaust gases, as well as fresh air and fuel, flow through this component.

The cylinder head in your engine also contains the camshaft(s), valves, and other essential components.


Before fuel injection, all engines used this to mix fuel and air together.

Carburetors are simple but not very precise devices that will spray some fuel into air as it flows through, sending that mixture to the cylinders for combustion.


In engines with an overhead valve layout, this part transfers camshaft movements to the rocker arms.

At the end of each push rod is a roller ball, which rides on the camshaft lobes, transferring movements all the way to the rocker arms, which then push the valves open.


This works to keep the entire engine cool enough to avoid overheating.

The water jacket is a series of passageways built into the engine block, which allows coolant to flow around, soaking up some of the heat and transferring it to the radiator and heater core.


This part attaches the engine to the car's frame.

Not only does the engine mount hold the engine securely in place, it has a design that reduces how many vibrations produced by the engine are transferred to the rest of the car.


This component can detect when the oil level in your engine is dangerously low.

As oil flows through your engine, it creates pressure in certain spots. The oil pressure sensor will turn on the oil light on the dash to warn when the pressure drops too low, which usually means you need to put oil in the engine immediately.


This stores pressurized fuel before it goes through the injectors.

Engines with common rail tech have a pump that sends pressurized fuel into the rail, where it stays in that pressurized state, until it's sprayed out through one of the injectors.


This part controls when exhaust gases flow out of the combustion chamber.

Through the movement of the camshaft lobes, the exhaust valves open at specific times, allowing the exhaust gases to flow into the cylinder head, then the exhaust manifold.


All exhaust gases, plus fuel and air move through this component.

The cylinder head contains the valvetrain, or the camshaft, valves, rocker, arms, etc. that all control when the different gases flow into and out of the cylinders.


This component translates the up-and-down movement of the pistons into a rotational force.

The crankshaft is one of the heaviest parts of any engine, and it's always rotating, transferring the rotational force to the transmission, which is then sent to the wheels.


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