There was a time where only a few people understood how a car really works. Over time, schools have been educating pupils; and companies have showed the public how their specific model works. So how does an engine work?

It starts with the key in the ignition. Turning the key allows an electrical current to flow through the engine which ignites the spark plugs. A spark plug is present in all of the cylinders. It ignites with the help of a timer that is set to a sequence. The sequence usually allows spark plug one and three to ignite simultaneously and spark plug two and four to ignite afterwards.

The throttle opens the valve within the first cylinder allowing petrol to flow into the space. Once the valve is closed and the piston gets pushed down to BDC or Bottom Dead Centre, the piston compresses the petrol. Once the petrol has been compressed to capacity the spark plug ignites the gas forcing the piston to go down once again. Then the second valve opens where the piston will once again move to TDC or Top Dead Centre. After the petrol is ignited it turns into gas where it is released through the exhaust pipe.

How does the piston move?

The car works on a series of mechanisms. When the driver pushes down on the throttle it allows the petrol into the car but as chemical reactions are happening the crankshaft is turning. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons and as one set moves down, the other set is pushed up. The rod shaft or the bottom part of the piston is what is attached to the crankshaft. When the crankshaft turns, it is also turning the axle of the wheels allowing you to move forward. The wheel supplier understands this motion, so the wheels are designed to complement this action. Pistons don’t move in an up-down motion but rather a rotating motion to rotate the shaft.

When it comes to the turbo version, the gases that get released from the cylinder head go through the turbo body. The turbo element compresses the gases inside and releases them through the exhaust pipe giving the car a boost.

Diesel engines work slightly differently. Diesel is a non-flammable liquid that cannot ignite on its own. When the diesel is inside the cylinder head, the piston compresses it and only then will it ignite. Diesel is a cheaper fuel but creates more noise. It is ideal for vehicles that are more powerful especially those with the bigger engines.

There is obviously more that goes into the whole process but at least you know the basics now.