Do You Really Know Engine Parts? Prove It With This Test!

By: Robin Tyler

Without this vital engine part, your car is not starting. What is it?

If your car's engine is turning over sluggishly when starting, or nothing happens except for a ticking sound, it's likely your battery is the problem. That is always the first place to check.

In a car engine, what is the radiator's purpose?

A radiator dissipates the heat that engine coolant carries from the engine into it. It then circulates the now cooler engine coolant back into the engine to do the same again.

This part of your engine produces the spark that leads to the combustion necessary to make the engine run. What is it?

Connected to the ignition coil, the spark plug provides the spark that ignites the fuel/air mixture which then provides the combustion to run the engine.

What is another name for a rotary engine?

A Wankel engine is essentially a rotary engine with all parts rotating in the same direction. It's named after Felix Wankel, the man who invented it.

What connects the spark plugs to the distributor cap and ignition coil?

The high tension leads conduct the electrical current from the ignition coil to the spark plugs which create the spark to start combustion in the engine.

What burns within the engine to keep the combustion process going and the engine running?

The air/gasoline mixture is ignited by the spark from the spark plug prompting the combustion necessary to keep the engine running.

What part of the engine turns the motion of the pistons (linear) into a rotational motion?

Pistons move in a linear fashion, up and down, essentially. The crankshaft, which is connected to the transmission through a flywheel, turns that movement into a rotational movement, which is needed to move a vehicle forward (or backward, depending on the gear selected).

Which of these parts moves within the cylinder?

A piston moves up and down within the cylinder, compressing the air/gas mixture which is then ignited by a spark from the spark plug.

Name the part that turns the engine over during the startup process?

When you turn the key in your ignition, the starter motor engages. It turns the engine over, starting it.

What is the purpose of the oil that travels around your engine while the car is running?

There are many metal parts within the engine. These need lubrication which motor oil provides, ensuring that they do not wear out quickly.

Name the part of your engine that connects the piston to the crankshaft?

The piston within the cylinder is connected to the crankshaft by the connecting rod.

Please tell us, from the options below, which best describes an engine block?

The engine block is the bottom half of the engine where all the major working components are found.

What can the engine block also be known as?

The engine block is also often called the cylinder block since it houses the cylinders of the engine.

Which of these is not an engine type?

The odd one out here is a Z engine. Nothing like that exists.

Which of these is an engine type available in modern vehicles?

Horizontally opposed engines appear in many vehicle types, including motorcycles.

By what other name is a horizontally opposed engine known? These are found in some Porsche models.

A boxer engine, or horizontally opposed engine, sees cylinders arranged on either side of a crankshaft.

Name the engine part that ensures the air coming into the engine that forms part of the combustion process is clean and debris-free.

The air entering your car's engine needs to be clean. This is the air filter's job. Depending on the roads you drive on, it should be replaced every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, more often if you drive on dusty, unpaved roads.

Can you name the engine part that allows the gas/air mixture to come into the cylinder?

The air intake manifold allows the gas/air mixture into the cylinders and distributes it to the intake ports equally.

What is the purpose of the oil sump, also called the oil pan?

When an engine is not running and oil is not pumped through it, it needs to be stored. This is the job of the sump/pan.

What do valves do in an engine?

It's all about timing! Valves must open to let the gas/air mixture into the cylinder and then close to allow combustion to happen. Finally, they open to release the gases that are left over after the combustion process.

Do you know the name of the part of your engine that charges the battery while the car is driving?

Not only does an alternator charge your battery, but​ it also powers most of the electrical systems on a vehicle. If it is faulty, your battery will quickly run flat.

Which of these parts is found only on a diesel-powered vehicle?

All the other parts will be found on a gasoline-powered vehicle except a glow plug. That is just found in diesel-powered cars

What is the purpose of a glow plug in a diesel engine?

Without the heat from a glow plug, a cold start in a diesel vehicle might mean the engine does not run efficiently, which would lead to increased exhaust emissions.

Name the engine part often abbreviated as SOHC.

An engine type with one camshaft, the SOHC will open and close valves as the camshaft rotates.

What part of the engine opens and closes the valves?

The rotation of the camshaft will open and close the valves of the engine. This allows combustion to take place within the cylinder (on closure) and releases the gases formed afterward (on opening).

What is the oil filter's job?

Any impurities in the oil can damage the engine. The oil filter will remove these, keeping the oil clean and effective.

This tiny part helps keep the piston pin in place. Name it, please.

Piston pins are held in place on the piston by the piston pin clip.

Which of these parts will spray gas into each cylinder?

Fuel can be delivered straight into the combustion chamber by injectors or mixed with air first, at which the intake stroke of the piston is performed.

Since the​ 1980s, fuel injection systems have replaced which other part of the engine?

Older engines used to make use of a carburetor to introduce the gas/air mixture into the cylinders. Modern engines do this by fuel injection.

Which of these parts takes the gas from the gas tank to the engine?

The fuel line is made of reinforced rubber to stop it from perishing.

Do you have any idea as to which engine part moves oil around the engine?

The pump does exactly what it says. It pushes oil around the engine under pressure or circulates it. This ensures all the moving parts, such as bearings, pistons, ​and others, are lubricated.

Can you identify the part of the engine that moves gasoline around?

Depending on the engine, fuel pumps come in a range of configurations and types. Essentially though, they are responsible for pumping fuel along the fuel line to the engine under pressure.

A vital working part of a car engine, what is the function of the bearing?

Bearings are a vital part of the inner workings of an engine and are found in many areas of the engine block.

What part of the vehicle removes the gases produced by the combustion of the gas/air mixture?

The by-product of the combustion of the gas/air mixture during combustion is a number of gases. These need to be removed from the engine through the exhaust system, starting with the exhaust manifold which collects the gases from the various cylinders then sends them down the exhaust system and out the tailpipe​.

Can you name the engine part that helps regulate the temperature of the engine?

Starting closed, a thermostat slowly opens as the engine gets hotter from running. This allows coolant to flow from the radiator, through the engine, effectively cooling it.

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Image: Getty Images via Marin Tomas

About This Quiz

Remove your car's engine and you aren't going anywhere!

With a faulty engine, a car is useless, unless you can convince people to push you everywhere. But let's be serious. Car engines consist of thousands of parts, all working in unison to transfer the power the engine makes into energy that makes your car move.

How did they manage to figure that all out over 100 years ago when the first engines were made? It's incredible, if you think about it.

But all those working parts not only need to work in perfect harmony to make an engine run. They must do so efficiently as well. An engine that isn't running properly is just going to cost you money somewhere down the line.

So just how much do you know about the internal combustion engine and car engines, in particular? Do you know your exhaust manifolds from your mufflers, your oil pump from your fuel pump or your spark plug from your glow plug?

You do? Then this is the quiz for you! Be warned, however, it's a tough one.

So take your time and let's see how well you do.

Good luck. You can do this! 

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