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Engines - Internal Combustion Explained

Have you ever wondered how your car's engine works?

Let's start with a single cylinder in your car engine. A cylinder is basically a metal tube containing a piston that moves up and down. The cylinder has valves to control fuel and air flowing in and exhaust blowing out.

A cylinder produces power in four movements, called strokes. The first downward stroke introduces a precise mixture of fuel and air into the cylinder.

The second upward stroke compresses and heats the fuel and air mixture.

When the piston reaches the top of the cylinder a spark plug ignites the fuel/air mixture. As the fuel and air burns during this third stroke, it expands, pushing the cylinder down and producing power.

After the fuel and air has burned the piston moves back upwards. This fourth stroke pushes exhaust out of the cylinder and eventually into the exhaust pipe.

At this point the engine is ready to accept its next dose of fuel and air to repeat the cycle.

Most cars have 4, 6 or 8 cylinders that work together to produce power. Amazingly enough, in many car engines this whole process can take place at over a thousand times per minute!

Now you know what's under your hood!

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