Car Engine Trivia Quiz


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Pexels by Pixabay

About This Quiz

Riding along in your car, as you go about your daily business, it's not often that your thoughts will venture to the magnificent piece of machinery that allows you to get from A to B. Yes, we are talking about your car's engine. 

Thanks to the invention of the internal combustion engine in the 1800s, we can go just about wherever we want these days. But a car engine is a very complex piece of machinery, far more so than those early engines. It is filled thousands of parts, both big and small, lightweight and heavy, plastic and metal, with each having its own specific task to ensure that the engine runs efficiently. And no part is more important than the others, that's for sure. Why? Well, even the smallest part failure can lead to the engine of your vehicle coming to a grinding halt.

But how much do you know about car engines? In this quiz, we are about to find out just how much knowledge you have about these complex beasts. Do you know your exhaust manifold from your muffler, your oil pump from your fuel pump, or your spark plug from your glow plug? You do? Then this is the quiz for you! Be warned, however - it's a tough one.

So take your time and let's see how well you do. Good luck. You can do this!

Where are engine parts such as the pistons and cylinders housed in your car engine?

The engine block is the bulky part of your car's engine, where all the other parts such as the pistons, cylinders, camshaft and crankshaft are found. It is sometimes called a cylinder block.


If the engine in your vehicle is overheating, which of these items might be faulty?

The thermostat in your engine is linked to the radiator. It controls the release of coolant to the engine when it begins to heat up. A faulty thermostat interferes with this cooling process.


What is the job of the timing belt in your vehicle's engine?

The camshaft and crankshaft in your car's engine are synchronized by the timing belt. This ensures that the engine's valves open and close at exactly the right time. This happens during the intake and exhaust strokes.


Most engines are water cooled. What other option is available?

Air-cooled engines include those found on many motorcycles. Here, water is not circulated to keep the engine cool while running. It is the air rushing through the engine that does so.


A camshaft is an important part of the engine in your car. What does it do?

The camshaft is all about timing! It is tasked with opening and closing valves, which let the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder and then, once combustion has taken place, remove it.


Which of these parts is crucial in keeping the engine temperature regulated?

An engine is cooled using coolant stored in the radiator. This is moved through the engine by the water pump and returned to the radiator, where it cools, only for the cycle to repeat.


A car needs a source of electricity to power things such as the radio, wipers and headlights. Which engine part is responsible for this?

The alternator is a fairly important part in your vehicle. It not only provides electric power for the systems in the car that need it but it also keeps the battery charged while you drive. It's pretty nifty!


Which part of the vehicle does the engine turn, in order to turn the wheels of your car?

The combustion of the fuel/air mixture within the car's engine is turned into a rotational motion. This is transferred to the driveshaft which, in turn, will rotate the wheels of your vehicle.


Cold starts for a diesel engine can be quite tricky. Which part, only found in diesel motors, helps to alleviate the problem?

Cold starts for diesel engines are difficult. This is because the engine needs to be warm to help burn the fuel/air mixture which is ignited by compression within the cylinder. To help the engine heat up, a diesel engine makes use of glow plugs, which are heaters, effectively.


Can you name an engine part that's vital to starting your car?

If your car's engine is turning over sluggishly when starting, or nothing happens except for a ticking sound, it's likely your battery is the problem. That is always the first thing to check.


If a car has an inline-six engine, which of these options describes it best?

Engine-speak is pretty specific. Any time you hear the numbers four, six or eight, you can rest assured they refer to the number of cylinders the engine has. These can be aligned in a number of ways - for example, in a straight line (inline) or in a V.


True or false? A turbocharger adds power to an engine.

Many cars come with turbochargers these days, but they can also be fitted to older engines. Turbocharged engines are more powerful. The turbocharger pushes more air into the engine, which means more is burned during the combustion process and that, in turn, leads to more power.


What connects the spark plugs to the distributor cap and ignition coil?

The high tension leads conduct the electrical current from the ignition coil to the spark plugs, creating the spark to start combustion in the engine.


If you car is overheating while you drive, what quick fix can you employ to bring the temperature down?

This is only a quick fix, but by turning on your car's heater you can bring the temperature of the engine down slightly. Why? Well, the heater helps move heat away from the engine. Get to a mechanic as soon as possible, though.


Can you name the reservoir where oil is stored?

The sump is the reservoir where the oil used to lubricate the engine sits when it is not running. It is usually found at the bottom of the engine and is easily drained by removing a single nut. The sump is also sometimes called an oil pan or oil tray.


Can you name the part of your engine that connects the piston to the crankshaft?

The piston within the cylinder is connected to the crankshaft by the connecting rod. Usually, they are connected in two places. When a connecting rod fails, mechanics will often say the engine "threw a rod."


Which engine stroke sees the fuel/air mixture move into the cylinder?

The first stroke an engine makes in its running cycle is the intake stroke. This sees the fuel/air mixture move into the cylinder, where it will be combusted.


Which car part ensures that only clean air will enter the engine?

An air filter ensures that the air entering the engine, which is used during the combustion process, is clean and free of any particles that could damage the engine. The filter needs to be replaced every so often.


Why would a car's engine die when it is driven through high water?

The air intake system of a vehicle allows oxygen to reach the engine. If it is submerged, the engine compartment will be filled with water, which will kill it and make it impossible to restart. Never try to start a flooded car until all water has been drained and all systems have been checked.


True or false? Diesel engines are different from those running on gasoline because they have no spark plugs.

True! A diesel engine does not make use of a spark plug to facilitate the ignition of the fuel/air mixture within the piston. Instead, ignition is achieved through the heat generated by the compression stroke.


Which engine stroke sees the fuel/air mixture placed under intense pressure?

The compression stroke is the second stroke to occur. It compresses the fuel/air mixture. This compression creates more energy when the fuel/air mixture is combusted.


What engine part moves within the cylinder?

A piston moves up and down within the cylinder, compressing the fuel/air mixture, which is then ignited by a spark from the spark plug.


What does the oil filter in your engine do?

Any impurities in the oil can damage the engine. The oil filter will remove these, keeping the oil clean and effective. This filter needs to be replaced every so often.


Cylinders arranged in a single bank is what sort of an arrangement?

A common configuration for the cylinders in an engine is inline. Cylinders can also be arranged in a V shape, as well as a W shape, which is two V cylinder banks side by side.


What engine part allows the fuel/air mixture to come into the cylinders?

The air intake manifold allows the fuel/air mixture into the cylinders and distributes it to the intake ports equally. The mixture is then combusted by the spark from the spark plug.


True or false? Water-cooled engines run hotter than their air-cooled counterparts.

No, it's the other way around, in fact. And it stands to reason. When an air-cooled engine is in a vehicle that is standing still, it naturally has a tendency to heat up more than a liquid-cooled engine, and for that reason, air-cooled run hotter.


The gases produced by the combustion of the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder are removed by which engine stroke?

During the exhaust stroke, the gases produced by the combustion of the fuel/air mixture are removed from the cylinder, through the exhaust manifold. They then exit the car through the exhaust system and the tailpipe.


What part of the engine turns the linear motion of the pistons into a rotational motion to drive the wheels?

Pistons move in a linear fashion, up and down. The crankshaft, which is connected to the transmission through a flywheel, turns that linear movement into a rotational movement, which is needed to move a vehicle forward (or backward, depending on the gear selected).


The gases formed during the combustion process are expelled from the engine through the exhaust stroke. How do they leave the vehicle?

The tailpipe is connected to the vehicle through the exhaust system. The gases leave the engine through the exhaust manifold, they pass through the catalytic converter to ensure they are cleared of certain emissions, and then they exit through the tailpipe.


Which tiny part helps keep the piston pin in place?

Piston pins are held in place on the pistons by piston pin clips. These are really small and pretty easy to misplace when a mechanic is working on the engine.


What burns within the engine to keep the combustion process going and the engine running?

The fuel/air mixture is ignited by a spark from the spark plug, prompting the combustion necessary to keep the engine running.


Which is the part that forms a protective lid over the cylinder head?

A valve cover forms a protective overlay for the cylinder head. Because the rocker arms are critical to the operation of the intake and exhaust valves, they must be constantly oiled. Valve covers didn't exist in early engines, which meant that all kinds of dirt and muck could get inside. A valve cover is also known as a rocker cover.


In what decade was the diesel engine invented by Rudolf Diesel?

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer, credited with inventing the diesel engine. This he did over a period of time in the 1890s. His early engines ran at low speeds and were very bulky, but slowly he perfected his invention.


The diesel engine combustion process is different from that of a regular gasoline engine. What is the first step?

In a diesel engine, the air is first compressed within the cylinder. After that has taken place, the fuel is added into the mix and combustion takes place.


In which engine stroke does the combustion of the fuel/air mixture take place?

Your engine makes four piston strokes in each cycle. These are the intake, compression, power and exhaust strokes. The combustion of the fuel/air mixture takes place during the power stroke.


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