How Much Do You Really Know About Car Engines?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: gilaxia / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Without an engine, your car becomes useless! Unless you are Fred Flintstone!

Car engines provide our vehicles with the power they need to move from A to B. This power is moved from the engine, through the transmission to the differential which in turn moves the wheels. And you're moving! Imagine having to work that all out like the first designers of the internal combustion engine did over a century ago. Let's face it, those men were very clever and we certainly thank them for that.

Modern car engines consist of many more parts than those older examples. Many things can go wrong, which could lead to a drop in performance, or even the engine seizing in the most extreme cases. All those parts need to work in perfect harmony. When they do, your engine runs at its peak level, just as the manufacturer intended. But you have a part to play as well. By getting your vehicle serviced regularly, you ensure the engine remains in proper working condition.

But we digress! Let's get to the real reason you are here! How clever are you when it comes to naming engine parts and answering other questions based on car engines? Do you fancy yourself a winner in that regard?

Let's find out then!

Air entering the engine needs to be free from dust and other particles. Which of these below would do that job?

An air filter ensures the air entering the engine, which is used during the combustion process is kept clean and free of any particles which may damage the engine.


Which of these help control the intake of the air/fuel mixture into the engine?

The intake valve is a real valve! It's camshaft-driven and is located in the cylinder head. Its only job is to allow the correct amount of air into the engine for peak performance.


Major parts of the engine are found here including the piston, crankshaft and cylinders. Which of these are we talking about?

The engine block is the lower section of the engine. It is cast out of metal and houses the crankshaft, pistons and cylinders


Do you know the engine parts that open and close in sequence to let the air/fuel mixture into the engine and open to let gasses out once combustion has taken place?

The valves within an engine open and close in sequence to let the air and fuel mixture in. They then seal when combustion takes place and let out the gases produced.


What is the name of the engine part often referred to as "SOHC"?

This type of engine has one camshaft. It opens and closes the exhaust and intake valves, which lets the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder and then allows the gases produced during combustion to leave.


In the old days, you had to hand crank your engine to start it. Which part performs the job now?

The first starter motors were introduced in 1912, but it took some time for them to become standard on all makes and models of cars.


Which system, consisting of a number of parts, is ultimately the reason your car starts when you turn the key?

This system helps to start the engine by generating a spark that causes the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chamber to ignite.


Which of these parts help get gasoline from the tank, along the fuel line to your car's engine?

A fuel pump makes sure fuel gets from the area where it is stored (the fuel tank) to the engine where it is burned to help propulsion. When this fails, your car's engine may turn over when you try to start it but it will not fire.


When people talk about an engine's redline limit, what do they mean?

If you look at the tachometer (or rev counter) on your dashboard, you will see a red line between 6000 and 7000 revolutions per minute (rpm). This is the maximum amount the engine should spin without causing damage.


Made of rubber, can you name the part that connects a number of engine components, including the alternator.

A fan belt is made from rubber and connects a number of components of the engine including the cooling fan, alternator and the crankshaft pulley. Sometimes a worn fan belt will make a terrible screeching noise. Time to get it replaced!


Can you name the car part which forms a protective cover and is bolted to the cylinder head?

The valve cover is attached to the cylinder head. Sometimes called rocker covers, these were not found on early engines, which means valves had to be constantly re-oiled and cleaned of dirt. This cover stops that problem!


True or false? A car with fuel injection has no carburetor.

True! Fuel injection does away with the need for a carburetor. Injectors push fuel into the engine. In engines without them, a carburetor will in fact suck fuel into the engine. Most modern engines are fuel injected.


Which of these will you NOT find in a diesel engine?

A diesel engine has no need for a spark plug as it does not fire and start in the same way as a gas engine. It uses hot air which has been highly compressed to ignite the fuel instead of the spark from a spark plug.


What is the likely cause of a car's spark plugs having a coating of oil over them?

Oil coating the spark plugs shows leakage, either through the valves or piston rings. This can cause the plugs to misfire and will lead to a drop in overall performance.


Can you name the fasteners that are found on the cylinder head of the engine?

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


Which of these parts cools the air entering a turbocharger, which produces even more power from the engine?

Found in turbocharged engines, an intercooler reduces the temperature of the air compressed by the turbocharger. This makes it denser when it is pushed through the engine, which produces more power.


The Chevrolet LS9/LSA V8 engine was first used in which iconic model?

The LS9/LSA Chevy V8 engine was first seen in the 2009 ZR1 Corvette. It produces a staggering 638 brake horsepower, thanks to a 6.2-liter displacement and a supercharger!


When comparing a big block and a small block engine, which of these would you consider a difference?

Let's look at the example of a V8 engine. BIg block engines have bigger bores over small block engines. This helps them generate more power as the piston moves further. Of course, they are far heavier and much larger.


When an engine leaks oil without anyone noticing, what can happen?

The purpose of oil running through an engine is to lubricate the mechanical parts. Without it, metal will grind on metal and that will cause an engine to seize.


In what year did Ford introduce its first V8 engine?

V8 engines were certainly not new by the time Ford introduced their first offering in 1932. The Ford V8 produced 65 bhp, which was incredible at the time. It had its problems though. It burned a LOT of fuel, for one thing.


In 1955, a legendary American small block V8 engine was released by which auto manufacturer?

The Chevrolet V8 small block engine, released in 1955, is somewhat of a legend in the world of motoring. In fact, motoring magazine Ward's Autoworld ranked it as one of their 10 best ever engines made in the 20th Century. The Chevy V8 small block was produced until 2003.


A car with white smoke bellowing out of its exhaust has which of these problems?

If white smoke is coming out of a car's exhaust and it is particularly thick, the engine block is either warped or even cracked. This then allows coolant to flow out, which is then burning in the exhaust system, creating the smoke.


Which of these luxury car maker's vehicles are powered by Ford engines?

Ford has a contract with Jaguar in which they provide engines for the luxury car maker until 2020. At that point, Jaguar will be making their own power plants.


Which of these manufacturers supply engines to the IndyCar series?

Honda and Chevrolet supply engines to the IndyCar series. The current engine format has been in place since 2012 and sees cars running 2.2-liter V6 power plants. These produce up to 700 bhp.


Introduced by Chevrolet in 1929, can you name the straight-six engine available as a 3.0, 3.2 and 3.4-liter power plant?

The 'Stovebolt', a straight-six engine from Chevrolet, produced the their small straight-four in a variety of their models. It was available in three options, a 3.0, 3.2 and 3.4-liter.


Can you name the car part which helps to create more power for the engine? It's not found on every car, mostly performance models.

In simple terms, a turbocharger pushes more air into the engine, which in turn creates more power as more fuel is burned. Turbochargers can be added to engines but in many new models, they already are part of the engines found on performance models.


In which model would you find Ford's inline-4 engine? It is perhaps their most famous car ever.

Certainly not the most powerful but one of the most important engines ever made. Why? Well the Ford Inline 4 drove possible the most significant car in auto history - the Model T.


Any idea as to the name of the engine part that moves within the cylinder following combustion?

Combustion of the fuel/air mixture within the cylinder in the engine causes the pistons to move, this in turn moves the crankshaft, which turns the differential and then moves your car. Simply, isn't it!


Do you know which American automaker was responsible for the straight six engine, the 300 I-6?

Ford's 300 I-6 engine was first produced in 1965 and remained in production for a 31-year period. It was mostly found in their F-truck series. This 4.9-liter 300 cubic engine produced 170 bhp.


Which of these is NOT a configuration for a car engine?

Z is most certainly not an engine configuration! Most cars are straight (inline or I) formats while you have heard of V6 or V8 powered cars. A W is essentially two V8 engines sitting side by side, as found in the Bugatti Veyron hypercar.


When putting in gas, what does the octane rating mean?

The higher the octane rating, the more a fuel can be compressed by a piston together with air before it combusts in the cylinder. Higher octane ratings mean better performance.


When your car engine is not running, the lubricant is stored here. Can you name the location?

The oil pan serves as the oil reservoir. It's a removable part that is mounted on the bottom of the cylinder block.


This car part regulates when coolant is moved from the radiator, through the engine and back again. Can you name it?

A thermostat ensures that coolant is only pumped from the radiator once the engine has warmed up sufficiently.


Of the options below, which of these is a way to deliver fuel to a car engine?

Most modern engines use fuel injection to get the gas into the cylinder, where together with air, it is ignited. Before fuel injection, this was accomplished by carburetion.


To cool a car's engine, which of these below would be most relevant?

Coolant, which is kept in the radiator, is circulated around the engine when it starts to get hot. How? Through a water pump.


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