How Car Engines Work: The Pieces & Parts That Keep Your Car Moving

Francie Grubba


The engine is the heart of your car, and it’s one of the most complex parts. But, as long as you understand how each component works together, it’s not as complicated as it seems. The engine block is like a foundation for all the other components in your car engine. It holds everything together while allowing coolant to flow through its channels and oil to lubricate everything underneath it. The cylinder heads have valves that open and close when needed—and they’re what allow us to breathe when we drive! Pistons move up and down inside their grooves at thousands of times per minute, pushing fuel into each cylinder; this triggers an explosion that pushes the piston back down again (hence why cars have pistons). And then there are connecting rods that attach pistons to crankshafts…


The car engine is a complex machine, made up of many different parts that work together to make the engine run. The following article will explain these parts and their functions in more detail.

The Engine Block

The engine block is the metal housing that holds all of your car’s cylinders. It’s made up of two main parts: the cylinder block and the head. The cylinders are round openings where pistons move up and down, creating power for your vehicle. When you push on your gas pedal, it sends signals through wires to activate an electric switch inside each cylinder, which causes a spark plug inside each cylinder to fire off–which ignites gasoline vaporized by air entering through valves in order for combustion to occur within that particular chamber (this happens thousands of times per minute).

The piston moves up slowly until it reaches its highest point where combustion takes place; then it comes down quickly into another open space called an exhaust port where unburned fuel exits into exhaust pipe(s). This process repeats itself over again until there isn’t any more fuel left under pressure from compression created by increasing pressure between alternator belt tensioner pulley bolts

Cylinder Heads

The cylinder head is one of the most important parts of your engine. It houses all of the valves, which control how much air and fuel can enter through each cylinder, as well as other components that are necessary for proper operation. The head also serves as a mount for spark plugs and injectors.

The cylinder head is connected to the block via “bolts” (or studs) that pass through holes in both pieces; these bolts are tightened down with nuts on top or bottom side(s). There are typically six bolts per side, though some engines may only have four or five depending on their configuration; not all engines have topside heads at all!

Piston Ring Grooves

Piston ring grooves are the gaps between the piston and its cylinder wall. They allow for oil to lubricate the piston and cylinder wall, but more importantly they ensure that there is no air trapped between them.

Piston rings work by preventing any air from getting into these spaces, which would cause a loss of power and damage to your engine. If you’re driving along and suddenly hear a loud “pop”, that’s probably because one of your pistons just let go–and it could be due to damaged piston rings!

The Crankshaft

The crankshaft is the main component of your engine, and it converts the reciprocating motion of your pistons into rotary motion. The crankshaft runs through a hole in each cylinder wall and connects directly to each piston via connecting rods. As you can see, there are two ends on each connecting rod: one end attaches to a piston via its wrist pin, while the other end attaches to one side of an offset bearing (which keeps everything aligned) and then goes through a bearing cap onto which it’s fastened with bolts or studs.

The flywheel connects directly onto an end-cap on top of your crankshaft where it spins freely until power is transferred from this spinning mass back down into rotation across all four wheels via transmission gearsets inside each gearbox located under hoods throughout car models produced today–including yours!

Connecting Rods

With all that talk of pistons, you may have forgotten about the other major component of an internal combustion engine: the crankshaft. The connecting rods are attached to the crankshaft and connect it with each piston via a connecting rod journal bearing. This allows for smooth rotation as you drive your car down the road or highway.

Connecting rods are made from steel, which makes sense considering how much force they need to withstand during operation. They’re also hollow so that they can transfer heat away from their bearings and into other parts of your vehicle’s cooling system–a process known as thermal management, which helps keep everything running smoothly even when temperatures get high!

Flywheel and Pressure Plate

The flywheel is the part of your car’s engine that stores kinetic energy and releases it to keep your engine running. It’s connected to the crankshaft, which is basically a big rod that turns when you step on the gas pedal. The flywheel turns as well, but it also acts like a brake: as soon as you let off of the gas pedal or release it altogether, this stored energy causes both parts to stop spinning immediately–and since they’re attached together, they do so at exactly the same time!

The starter motor uses this stored energy from within your vehicle’s flywheel in order to turn over its corresponding crankshaft (which spins inside another part called an oil pan). Once everything starts moving again after being stopped by those two mechanisms mentioned above (pressure plate and flywheel), then we can say for sure whether or not our car will start up again once we’ve pressed down firmly enough on our foot against theirs’ respective pedals…

Camshaft and Timing Belt/Chain Assembly

The camshaft is the device that controls the opening and closing of your engine’s valves. It does this by rotating a series of lobes (called ‘cams’) which are attached to each valve. As the camshaft rotates, these lobes push against their corresponding spring-loaded lifters, forcing them upwards and allowing air/fuel mixture into an engine cylinder during intake strokes; then they fall back down when exhaust gases push out those same cylinders during compression strokes.

The timing belt/chain assembly connects all these components together so that everything runs smoothly in unison: You can think of it like an orchestra conductor keeping everyone on track! In cars with automatic transmissions, this means making sure that when you press down on your gas pedal (or take off your foot), nothing gets left behind–and if something does happen wrong along the way (like a flat tire), then someone else will help get things back on track before you know it!

Car engines are complex, but they work together in a very simple way.

The engine is the heart of your car, so it’s important to understand how it works. There are many parts that make up an engine, but they all work together in a very simple way.

  • The pistons are what move up and down inside cylinders to create power for your vehicle.
  • Valves allow air into or out of chambers where combustion takes place (this is also known as “firing”).
  • Cylinders are where fuel is mixed with oxygen to create energy as it burns; this process is called combustion.

The first step in understanding how engines work is learning what all these parts do individually–and then seeing how they come together!


Car engines are complex, but they work together in a very simple way. The pieces and parts of your vehicle’s engine make it possible for you to drive from place to place without ever having to worry about stopping for gas or adjusting the spark plugs on your own.

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