“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Automotive 101

The Engine

The engine is the most important part of a vehicle. I’m not downplaying the role of the other car parts. It’s just that the engine is the one responsible for making the car move with relative ease. It wouldn’t even be called a car in the first place if it doesn’t have an engine. Basically, what an automotive engine does is convert gasoline into motion. The easiest way to go about it is to ignite the gasoline, convert to power and relay it to other car parts that facilitate the movement of the mechanical parts. It is for this reason why the automotive engine is termed as an internal combustion engine.

A typical four-stroke internal combustion engine usually operates under the principle of the Otto Cycle, which relates that the workings of an engine are characterized by four cycles: the intake, compression, power and the exhaust strokes. An air and fuel mixture is sent to the cylinders under high pressure. The mixture is then compressed to facilitate combustion, after which it is ignited. The burning gases produced push the pistons downward, producing power in the process. The combustion by-products are then let out by a series of pipes and tubes. Then, the whole cycle begins again.

Since there are different kinds of engine, as well as different engine displacements, the workings differ variably. Other cycles used by other cars are the Miller Cycle and Brayton Cycle, to name a few. As for the engine parts, most cars usually have the same components, although there are sometimes slight differences. The basic engine parts are the spark plugs, valves, pistons, piston rings, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rod and timing belt. The aforementioned parts approximately comprise only a 10th of the engine, so there are others that weren’t mentioned.

The automotive engine is so important that it needs constant maintenance. To sum up, here are the things that one should do in order to keep a vehicle running for the longest time possible: lubricate, calibrate, tighten, replace, clean, replenish and inspect. That may sound too vague, but if a person has even a hint of mechanical experience he’d know what to do. Plus, I’d be discussing those in detail in the next few weeks so those of you who’ve stumbled upon my blog don’t have to worry. And here’s two very important tips: 1) Always heed what’s written in the car manual, especially the intervals in between engine parts tune-up, calibration, cleaning and replacement; and 2) Once it’s noticed that there’s something amiss relative to the workings of the engine, the car should be brought to a service station for inspection at once.