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How to Learn About Engines

Engines are complex machines that power cars, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, and even factories. You could even say engines make our entire way of life possible! They’re fascinating machines, so whether you want to do some car repairs or are just curious, it’s only natural to want to learn more about engines. Luckily, we’re here to help and answer any questions you might have.


[Edit]How do combustion engines actually work?

  1. Engines burn fuel to release energy and produce motion. Basically, fuel enters the engine through an injector. The spark plug then ignites the fuel to release energy. This energy turns pistons in the engine, which makes the crankshaft turn. The energy then transfers to the car powertrain, which spins the wheels for motion.[1]
    Learn About Engines Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • This process is how an internal combustion engine works, the type that is in cars and most other motor vehicles. But there are also different engine types, like steam, water, or air-powered ones.

[Edit]What are the parts of a combustion engine?

  1. Engines are complex machines made of many different components. These parts all work together to make the engine run. Some of the parts and their jobs include:[2]
    Learn About Engines Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • Valves, which open and close the exhaust and air valves to let fuel and air into the engine.
    • Pistons, which compress the gas to make it ignite.
    • The spark plug, which ignites the gas to power the engine.
    • The crankshaft, which spins and produces power.
    • The engine block, the main support structure for all the other pieces of the engine.
    • Combustion engines are usually arranged in a V shape, with a row of cylinders on each side. A V6 engine, for example, has 6 cylinders with 3 on each side.

[Edit]What is the most important part of an engine?

  1. No single piece is more important than the others. Every part of the engine needs to work properly for it to run. If any part isn’t working, then the engine will either run poorly or fail to start altogether. The whole thing needs to stay in good working condition for the best performance.[3]
    Learn About Engines Step 3.jpg
    • Not all car problems are problems with the engine. For example, if your battery is dead, the engine won’t start. But this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your engine.

[Edit]What do combustion engines need to run?

  1. All engines need fuel, air, and a spark to get started. These are the main components of the combustion process that produces energy and makes the engine move. Injectors bring fuel and air into the engine, and the spark ignites the mixture. To continue running, the engine needs a steady supply of fuel and air, because the combustion process will stop without a mixture of both.[4]
    Learn About Engines Step 4.jpg
    • A broken or dirty spark plug is a common engine problem. Without the spark, the engine can’t start.
    • Oil isn’t part of the combustion process, but an engine can’t work without it. If the engine doesn’t have enough oil, the moving parts will lock up and the engine won’t run.
    • Every gas car needs to get an oil change.[5]

[Edit]What other types of engines are there?

  1. There are many types of engines and they all work a bit differently. Internal combustion engines are probably what you think of when you think of an engine, but there are lots of others. Here are a few of the other common ones:[6]
    Learn About Engines Step 5.jpg
    • External combustion engines, where the fuel burns in a different location outside the engine. A steam engine falls into this category, since the water is boiled in a different spot and then fed through the engine.
    • Reaction engines, also called jet engines. These spin very quickly to force air out the back end, creating motion.
    • Electrical engines use magnetic or electrical energy to produce vibrations. These vibrations when spin a turbine to produce power.

[Edit]What’s the best way to learn about car engines?

  1. Reading your car’s manual is best to learn about your own engine. There are lots of similarities between car engines, but there could be important differences too. That’s why referring to your car’s manual is the best source. This will include all the repair and maintenance information that’s unique to your car.[7]
    Learn About Engines Step 6.jpg
    • The owner’s manual should include a diagram of your car’s engine showing its main parts, as well as maintenance information like the correct oil type.
    • If you’ve lost the manual for your car, contact the manufacturer for a replacement. You might also be able to find the manual for your car online.
  2. Reading auto magazines and books or watching videos works too. Your car manual is great for learning the basics of your own engine, but it doesn’t have a lot of information about how engines work. Car magazines, books, shows, podcasts, and videos are all great sources to learn about how engines actually work. These are great sources to learn about engine operation and repair.[8]
    Learn About Engines Step 7.jpg
    • Magazines like Car and Driver or Popular Mechanics have lots of great articles about engines, and cars in general. Their websites are also helpful.
    • There are tons of YouTube channels focused on cars that show all the steps for any kind of engine repairs you might have to do.
    • It’s best to stick with sources made by people who actually work on cars, like mechanics. This way, you’ll know the information is coming from someone with experience.

[Edit]Can I work on my car engine myself?

  1. You can definitely do simple work yourself if you’re careful. Some simple tasks including cleaning or changing the spark plug, tightening the fuel cap, and replacing air or fuel valves. You can make these repairs yourself without a lot of experience and simple tools. Bigger jobs like a full engine replacement are better left to a professional.[9]
    Learn About Engines Step 8.jpg
    • Even if you’re doing simple work, always follow a good source like a mechanic’s video so you know the right process.
    • Working on newer cars is a bit more difficult than working on older ones because of all the electronic parts in modern cars.
    • If you’re not sure about your automotive skills, then it’s best to let a mechanic work on your car instead. If you make a mistake, then it might not be safe to drive your car.[10]

[Edit]Is anything bad for a car engine?

  1. Yes, lots of driving and operation habits can damage your engine. Like all machines, engines need proper care and maintenance to run smoothly. To get the most out of your engine, follow these habits:[11]
    Learn About Engines Step 9.jpg
    • Let the engine warm up before using it.
    • Rev smoothly so the engine doesn’t crank too hard.
    • Keep your fuel level above 1/4 tank so the fuel pump doesn’t clog.
    • Don’t carry more weight than the engine was designed to handle.
    • Perform regular maintenance to catch any problems before they get worse.


  • If you want to learn more about engines and maintenance, you could always take some classes at a local technical school.



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Volkswagen reveals its money-maker plan for EVs and autonomous services

Volkswagen has revealed its New Auto 2030 strategy, its roadmap for the rest of the decade, and the automaker is hoping you’ll be willing to pay handsomely for software and autonomous services. Margins on electric vehicles should reach parity with combustion vehicles within 2-3 years, VW predicted today, helping close the gap in the transition, and potentially putting a new … Continue reading

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Davies

New York City E-Race Grand Prix shows potential of electric vehicles


BMW’s Maximilian Günther and Jaguar’s Sam Bird captured the checkered flags at the thrilling New York City E-Prix racing doubleheader in Brooklyn over the weekend. But the real winners, race organizers hope, are electric vehicles themselves.

Why it matters: ABB FIA Formula E’s all-electric street racing series, held in some of the world’s most iconic cities, is meant to showcase EV technology in the very places electric cars are likely to have the biggest impact.

  • For auto manufacturers, it’s also a test bed for innovation in sustainable mobility.
  • “If we win and we are successful, we can show the world we are a step ahead on technology,” Pascal Zurlinden, director of factory racing for Porsche AG, tells Axios.

Driving the news: New York is the only U.S. stop on this year’s Formula E tour, now in its seventh season. As EV technology has advanced, the racing series has evolved too.

  • Batteries in the first generation of race cars lasted only 25 minutes, so teams had to swap cars midway through the race.
  • The current generation of cars has a lightweight 250-kilowatt battery and a top speed of 174 mph, eliminating the need for pit stops during the 45-minute race.
  • The entire 24-car field uses the same battery pack, which was designed and manufactured by Lucid Motors through its Atieva technology division.

Details: Each team designs the rest of the car’s powertrain — things like the electric motor, inverter and gearbox — but the design can’t change after the season begins.

  • The only permitted changes are software updates to optimize thermal management.
  • To win, racers need to strike the right balance between power and efficiency — the same riddle that engineers designing standard EVs are trying to solve.
  • Like race car drivers, EV owners can continually improve their vehicles through software updates too.

Context: Motorsports has long been a laboratory for future automotive technology.

  • Jaguar, for example, pioneered disc brakes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1953. Today, they are widely available on all vehicles.
  • The British carmaker is already implementing lessons learned from Formula E racing, says James Barclay, team director of Jaguar Racing. A software update added 12 miles of extra range to the 2021 Jaguar iPace electric SUV, for instance.

The big picture: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and a massive source worldwide.

  • Automakers are rushing to replace their gasoline-powered vehicles with electric models as governments tighten tailpipe emissions rules and companies face pressure to act on climate.

What’s next: Formula E is growing, adding three new cities next year — Vancouver, Canada, Cape Town, South Africa, and Seoul, South Korea — as it expands to a record 16 races across four continents.

  • The technology continues to evolve, too. Batteries in the next generation of race cars, coming in about 18 months for Season 9, will pack 350 kW of energy into a smaller, lighter package, meaning even better performance.

The bottom line: Formula E is an exciting sport with sustainability built into its mission.

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A Dodge all-electric muscle car is coming in 2024

Dodge will launch its first all-electric muscle car in 2024, the automaker has confirmed today, though it’s making it very clear that while replacing gas engines and superchargers may be on the agenda, losing performance absolutely is not. It’s part of Dodge’s new tagline – “Tear Up the Streets… Not the Planet” – as corporate parent Stellantis reveals its sweeping … Continue reading

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Davies

GM just cut a big deal to tackle EV’s dirty secret

GM plans to use US-sourced lithium in its next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, tapping a new – and potentially less environmentally damaging – supply for the essential but controversial metal. Lithium batteries are a key part of EV expansion, both for GM and indeed all automakers looking to electrification, but the rare metal has some significant drawbacks along with it. … Continue reading

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Volvo’s New Concept Recharge EV Doesn’t Mimic Combustion Engine Cars

Volvo recently committed to an all-EV future, but to date, all of its electric cars have been redesigns of existing combustion engine models. Now, Volvo’s new Concept Recharge EV shows that its future products will stand out from the rest of its lineup by abandoning the “unnecessary elements” of traditional cars, such as the front grille.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

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Ford Bronco production cut as F-150, Maverick and more see factory delays

Ford is hitting pause on Bronco production, part of a range-spanning delay which will see F-150, Ranger, and Explorer manufacturing disrupted in July and August 2021. The automaker has already been forced to adjust production earlier in the year over semiconductor shortages, and today announced further bottlenecks that could hamper supplies of its most popular cars and trucks. For the … Continue reading

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Davies

E-Legend EL1 Concept harks back to four-wheel rally machines of yore

German startup E-Legend has created a performance electric car that draws inspiration from the glorious days of rallying – notably Audi’s all-conquering Quattro S1, the first all-wheel-drive rally car to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC). E-Legend chose some big shoes to fill for its incoming electric concept. For those old enough to remember, Audi took home three WRC … Continue reading

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alvin Reyes

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