Engine Image Challenge: What Parts Can You Identify?

By: Robin Tyler

The engine block is the lower section of the engine. It is cast out of metal and houses the crankshaft, pistons and cylinders.

A sprocket is a wheel with a set of teeth on the outer circumference. It drives items like the chain or timing belt. Many sprockets are found in the gearing system on a vehicle.

Essentially, spark plugs are the most important factor in a vehicle starting. They provide the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture which starts the motor and keeps it running.

A fuel pump makes sure gasoline gets from the area where it is stored (the gas tank) to the engine where it is burned to help propulsion.

The radiator is a reservoir that holds coolant. This is used to keep the engine cool while it is running. A thermostat determines when coolant is allowed to flow through the engine.

An air filter ensures the air entering the engine, which is used during the combustion process, is kept clean and free of any particles which may damage the engine.

The oil pan serves as the oil reservoir. It's a removable part that is mounted on the bottom of the cylinder block. To drain the oil from the oil pan, simply remove a single bolt.

The valve cover is bolted onto the cylinder head. It acts as a protective lid. The cover gasket, on the other hand, is placed between the valve cover and the cylinder head.

The connecting rod forms the mechanical link between the piston and crankshaft. It converts the up and down motion to the crankshaft's rotary motion.

The hydraulic valve lifter is a lifting part that helps to maintain zero valve clearance. It uses hydraulic oil pressure to do this and eliminates the need for valve adjustment.

A bearing is a curved metal piece that reduces friction between components. It comes in many different shapes and sizes and is found throughout the engine.

An exhaust valve is a camshaft-driven valve in the cylinder head. It releases exhaust gases after combustion.

The oil control ring controls oil consumption within the cylinder. It comes under the umbrella of piston rings.

The timing belt is a toothed belt. It's usually made of reinforced rubber and it rides on the sprockets. It ensures that the pistons fire at the correct time, thus ensuring the engine runs as efficiently as possible.

Oil keeps all the moving parts of an engine lubricated. An oil filter helps to remove impurities in the oil that might damage the engine.

The carburetor controls the amount of air and gasoline entering the engine. For example, too much gasoline and the engine will run rich, wasting gas that it cannot burn, too little gasoline and it will run too lean.

The distributor makes sure the spark plugs fire in the right order. It is connected to the spark plugs through high-tension leads. The distributor forms a part of the ignition system.

This system helps to start the engine by generating a spark that causes the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chamber to ignite. Without it, your car will not start, let alone run.

Found in turbocharged engines, an intercooler reduces the temperature of the air compressed by the turbocharger. This makes it denser when it is pushed through the engine, which produces more power.

A fuel filter will help to remove impurities that might be in gasoline which, if they get into the engine, can cause complications. All gas is pumped through the filter before it enters the engine.

When you turn the key of your car, the starter motor begins the combustion process by rotating the engine. Sometimes, when your car will not start, the starter motor is not operating properly and could be jammed.

The valves within an engine open and close in sequence to let the air and fuel mixture in. They then seal when combustion takes place and then let the gases produced out.

A thermostat ensures that coolant is only pumped from the radiator once the engine has warmed up sufficiently. It does this by measuring the temperature of the engine.

The piston fits snugly within the cylinder. It moves ups and down in the cylinder and is attached to a connecting rod. A piston will compress the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder and help cause combustion.

The single overhead camshaft refers to an engine with one camshaft that operates both the exhaust and intake valves.

The balance shaft is a counterweighted engine shaft. It offsets unwanted crankshaft vibrations.

The cylinder liner is also known as a sleeve. It's a replaceable, hollow tube that fits into the cylinder bore. The piston then moves within this liner.

A piston pin is known as a wrist pin. It's a tubular metal shaft that attaches a piston to a connecting rod.

he harmonic balancer is the pulley bolted to the crankshaft. It helps dampen crankshaft vibration, which means the engine runs smoothly.

Head bolts are sometimes referred to as cylinder head bolts. These secure a cylinder head and gasket to the engine block. You don't want these to come loose.

The sodium-cooled valve is filled with sodium. duh! When heated, the sodium melts and helps to cool things down. This helps to regulate the temperature of the engine.

A DOHC is a Dual (or Double) Overhead Camshaft. It's like a SOHC, but with an extra camshaft! This helps the engine produce more power, perfect for racers!

The main bearings are between the crankshaft and the block. The crankshaft rotates on these bearings. All their parts are lubricated by oil.

The expansion plug provides pressure relief. This is necessary when coolant expands due to freezing temperatures. If the plug didn't expand, the coolant might damage the radiator.

The rocker arm is driven by a pushrod or camshaft lobe. This transfers motion to open and close the valves, which in turn let in the air/fuel mixture.

The piston pin clip is used to keep the piston in place. It is secured on both sides. The piston then moves within the cylinder.

When fuel burns in the engine, it pushes the pistons which in turn rotate the crankshaft. This causes the vehicle to move.

In simple terms, a turbocharger pushes more air into the engine, which in turn creates more power as more fuel is burned.

This pump ensures that coolant which is kept in the radiator is moved through the coolant system on the car. It will only do so once the thermostat allows it to, and this depends on the temperature of the engine.

This part is essential to how your engine runs. It allows the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder of the engine where it will combust, causing the engine to run. It does this by evenly distributing the air/fuel mixture to the intake ports.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Henrik5000 / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Without an engine, your motor vehicle is pretty useless, isn't it?

We all know the anguish of when we get into our car and it simply won't start. And it could be a number of reasons that have caused this to happen. Why? Well, your car's engine is made up of thousands and thousands of parts, big and small, all working together to ensure the power generated by the engine is transferred into the energy that makes your vehicle move. 

And just think of those first engine designers figuring out who to do this, often with so much trial and error. Those men were incredible but we should be eternally grateful to them. Those engines, just like modern ones need all its parts working in perfect harmony to make the engine run efficiently, because an engine that is not running as efficiently as it should is burning your money!

But now let's ask you a question: 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?

We want to test your knowledge with these 40 questions. Do you think you identify engine parts from just an image?


About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!