Can You Name These Engine Parts From a One-Sentence Description?


About This Quiz

An engine is only the sum of its parts, but the odds are good that you don’t know them all! Engines are some of the most technologically interesting machines on the planet. They’re the result of years of invention, innovation and mastery. You ride in your car every day without realizing the amazing process that’s happening right under the hood.

Camshafts, intake valves, combustion chambers, valve springs, cylinder heads... you get the point. Your internal combustion engine is the heart of your vehicle, but the parts are the veins, arteries, muscles and bones that keep the thing moving. Whether you want to test your knowledge because you’re bored at work or you want to make sure that you’re really up to snuff, this quiz is going to give you the ride of your life.

Do cars have more than one piston and valve? Does increasing the number of pistons automatically give you more power?

You want to know your engine parts — because you’re a person with an inquisitive mind, a desire to understand your vehicle and an honest-to-goodness need for speed. 

Fun fact: A cannon is really just a simple type of combustion engine. The cannonball is packed into the cannon, along with gunpowder. When you light the gunpowder, it creates gas and pressure, and the cannonball flies. See how fascinating this stuff is? Let’s do this!

This is also known as a sleeve.

The cylinder liner is also known as a sleeve. It's a replaceable, hollow tube that fits into the cylinder bore and protects the cylinder walls from wear and damage.

It's bolted onto the cylinder head to create a protective lid. What is it?

The valve cover is bolted onto the cylinder head and acts as a protective lid. The valve cover gasket forms a seal between the valve cover and the cylinder head and prevents oil from leaking out.

This has a set of teeth.

A sprocket is a wheel with a set of teeth on the outer circumference. It meshes with items like the chain or timing belt to drive them.

This reduces friction during motion between components​.

A bearing is a curved metal piece that reduces friction between components. It comes in different shapes and sizes. such as ball bearings, thrust bearings and plain bearings.

This allows burned exhaust gases out of the cylinder.

An exhaust valve is a camshaft-driven valve in the cylinder head. It releases exhaust gases after combustion.

"DOHC" stands for this.

A DOHC is a Dual (or Double) Overhead Camshaft. It's like a SOHC, but with an extra camshaft! One camshaft operates the intake valves, the other the exhaust valves and generally improves efficiency.

A counterweighted engine shaft is known as a _________.

The balance shaft is a counterweighted engine shaft designed to offset unwanted crankshaft vibrations. It's most commonly used in inline four-cylinder engines that, due to their design, have unbalanced vibrations.

These are the bearings between the crankshaft and the block.

The main bearings are between the crankshaft and the block. The crankshaft rotates on these bearings, which hold it in place.

This forms the mechanical link between the piston and crankshaft.

The connecting rod forms the mechanical link between the piston and crankshaft. It converts the piston's up-and-down motion into the crankshaft's rotary motion, allowing the combustion of the fuel/air mix to propel the vehicle.

"SOHC" stands for this long name.

The single overhead camshaft refers to an engine with one camshaft that operates both the exhaust and intake valves.

This is another name for head bolts.

Head bolts are sometimes referred to as cylinder head bolts. These secure a cylinder head and gasket to the engine block.

This serves as the engine's oil reservoir.

The oil pan serves as the oil reservoir. Usually made out of steel or aluminum, it's a removable part that is mounted on the bottom of the cylinder block.

What houses the pistons, crankshaft and cylinders?

The engine block is the lower section of the engine. It is cast out of metal (usually an aluminum alloy on modern vehicles) and houses the crankshaft, pistons and cylinders.

This is the lever driven by a pushrod or camshaft lobe.

The rocker arm is driven by a pushrod or camshaft lobe. This transfers motions to open and close the valves.

This is a real valve.

The intake valve is a real valve! Located in the cylinder head, it's camshaft-driven and allows the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder.

This metal piece moves up and down within a cylinder of the engine block.

The piston fits snugly within the cylinder. It moves ups and down in the cylinder and is attached to the crankshaft by a connecting rod. The combustion of the fuel/air mix in the cylinder moves the piston, which moves the crankshaft which moves the wheels.

This part seals the combustion chamber from the crankcase.

The compression ring is a type of piston ring that seals the cylinder wall off from the crankcase, as well as transfering heat from the piston to the cylinder.

A piston pin is also known as this.

A piston pin is known as a wrist pin (or, in the U.K. a gudgeon pin). It's a tubular metal shaft, usually made of a high-strength steel alloy, that attaches a piston to a connecting rod. The wrist pin is a small but crucial part of the engine.

Another term for the cam follower is _______.

The cam follower is also known as a valve lifter (or a tappet). A pulley buttoner is what you use to button your pullies, one would suppose.

This is known as a harmonic balancer.

The harmonic balancer (also called a crankshaft damper, torsional damper or vibration dampener) is a device attached to the crankshaft that helps dampen vibrations by providing a counterbalance to the crankshaft's rotational motion.

This item is toothed.

The timing belt is a toothed belt, usually made of reinforced rubber, and it rides on the sprockets. The timing belt connects the camshaft to the crankshaft, which is necessary to control the opening and closing of the engine's valves. It can also control other mechanisms in the engine, such as the water and oil pumps.

This keeps a piston pin in place.

The piston pin clip is used to keep the piston in place. It is secured on both sides.

This is not a car part!

Timing tubing is not a part of the internal combustion engine (although it sounds like it could be a part of Dr. Who's TARDIS).

This is another name for a tappet.

A tappet is a valve lifter (also known as a cam follower). It's actuated by the camshaft, moving vertically as the cam rotates.

This is a real car part.

The cog belt is a toothed belt. A harpie pincher and a gallows monger are whatever you want them to be...

This is a type of valve lifter that maintains zero valve clearance.

The hydraulic valve lifter — also known as a hydraulic tappet — uses hydraulic oil pressure to eliminate the need for valve adjustments. This helps the engine to operate more quietly with less wear and tear.

It's the crankshaft main bearing cap for sports cars.

The four-bolt main is the crankshaft main bearing cap that holds the crankshaft into place at the bottom of the engine. It's held in place by four bolts instead of two and is thought by some to be a stronger design.

A harmonic balancer is also known as this.

Vibration damper is another name for harmonic balancer. Both these names sound they should be used for musical instruments.

This is an oil slinger.

An oil slinger is a cone-shaped collar. It's designed to circulate oil to various engine parts using centrifugal force.

This retainer is held in place by nuts and bolts.

The bearing cap is a retainer. It's held in place by nuts and bolts and secures the bearing shell which keeps the crankshaft in place.

This is the bearing surface for the piston pin.

Usually made of bronze or similar material, the piston pin bushing is removable and serves as a bearing surface for the pin.

This part is filled with sodium.

The sodium-cooled valve is filled with, well, sodium. The sodium melts when heated, drawing off some of the heat from the valve, which helps maintain horsepower. It's often seen in high-performance vehicles.

This piston structure helps with lubricating the cylinder.

The oil control ring scrapes oil from the cylinder wall, helping to regulate oil consumption within the cylinder. They are usually made of cast iron or bronze aluminum.

This plug provides pressure relief when coolant freezes.

The expansion plug provides pressure relief for the engine in cold temperatures. This is necessary, as the coolant expands when it freezes and could damage the engine.

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