Name That Engine Part!

AUTO

Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

This part ignites the fuel in the cylinder.

The whole point of your spark plug is to convert electricity from the battery or alternator into a spark inside the cylinder, igniting the fuel and oxygen to force the piston downward.

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You must remove this part to put more oil in the engine.

The oil cap is one of the simplest and most overlooked engine parts out there. Without it, you couldn't quickly and easily add oil to the engine. Just remember to put it back when you're done.

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This part literally attaches the engine to the car's frame.

Engine mounts ensure the engine and transmission stay in place all the time, but they also help isolate excessive vibrations, otherwise the entire car would shake constantly.

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This is where the combustion process takes place.

Once the air and fuel are in the cylinder, the valves have all closed and the piston has finished compressing the gas mixture, it's time for combustion via the spark plug. This magic should be contained to the cylinder.

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As the pistons move up and down, they make this part rotate.

The movement of the pistons is transferred into a spinning motion at the crankshaft, which is the type of energy that's ultimately sent to the car's wheels so you move.

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This part allows the fuel and air mixture to flow into the cylinder.

The intake valve will move down into the cylinder, allowing the waiting air and fuel mixture to flow in, before it pulls back up and seals off the combustion chamber.

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This part is attached to the piston and the crankshaft.

Connecting rods are incredible strong and durable, which they have to be, considering they're subjected to some powerful forces constantly. Damage to a connecting rod means you're looking at an engine rebuild.

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All the air/fuel mix and exhaust gases flow through this part.

The cylinder head controls how the different gases flow into and out of the combustion chamber. An engine might have two cylinder heads, depending on its configuration.

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This part will detect preignition and detonation.

Really bad cases of engine knock are easy to hear, but this sensor can detect knock that you wouldn't notice otherwise, catching the problem so the ECU can retard timing to compensate.

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This part is where the engine oil naturally flows and gathers.

The sump is the lower portion of the engine where the oil collects by sheer gravity. Of course, the pump is responsible for sending the oil where it needs to go.

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This part is shaped like a can and it moves up and down.

The piston performs a few vital functions in your engine, including compressing the air/fuel mixture before it combusts, and transferring that energy into downward motion.

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This transports the exhaust gases to the catalytic converter.

The exhaust manifold bolts right onto the engine, and has the sole purpose of giving the exiting exhaust gases somewhere to go, otherwise they'd gather in the engine compartment.

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This part measures how much unburned oxygen is in the exhaust gases.

The O2 sensor plugs right into the exhaust manifold, which is constructed with a special port for that very purpose. The ECU can adjust the air/fuel mixture depending on feedback from this sensor.

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This part measures the precise amount of gas that should go into each cylinder.

Fuel injection was a major technological breakthrough back in the day, since it adds a level of precision you don't get with a carburetor.

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This part keeps the valve shut tight, allowing no gases to escape until the valve opens again.

One of the unsung heroes in your engine is the valve spring, which makes achieving proper cylinder compression possible.

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This part keeps the camshafts spinning at the right speed.

Some engines have timing chains instead of timing belts, which perform the exact same job. A broken chain or belt can cause serious damage in an interference engine.

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This keeps the entire engine from getting too hot.

The water jacket is a series of passageways that run through the engine, allowing coolant to flow through unobstructed and soak up excess heat. Without it, your engine would literally melt.

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This forms a tight seal between the cylinder head and the engine block.

A blown head gasket, or one that doesn't create that tight seal anymore, can cause all kinds of problems for your engine. The only solution is to remove it and install a new one.

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This carries electricity to the spark plugs

The ignition wires have a long tube which fits into the spark plug wells in the engine. The open end of that tube fits over the end of the spark plug, with an element inside creating an electrical connection.

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This regulates when the exhaust gases leave the cylinder.

The movement of the exhaust valve is different from the intake valve, but both stay shut tight during compression and combustion, otherwise your engine won't run smoothly or perform optimally.

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This part has lobes that control when valves open, how much and for how long.

Some cylinder heads have a single camshaft, while others use two, one for the exhaust valves and one for the intake valves.

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This part makes a tight seal between the intake manifold and cylinder head.

Just like all other parts that bolt to the engine, the intake manifold must have a gasket to create a genuinely airtight seal. Replacing a blown gasket is fairly simple.

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This part is always spinning behind the engine.

The flywheel is heavy and is designed to always be spinning at a smooth rate. Your engine doesn't provide smooth power delivery, so the flywheel makes up for that inconsistency when transferring energy to the clutch and transmission.

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In an overhead valve engine, this part moves the valves.

Because the camshaft in an overhead valve engine isn't located in the cylinder head but the valves are, pushrods are necessary to transfer the camshaft movements to the valves.

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This part measures the temperature of the air coming through the air intake.

The air temperature sensor communicates with the ECU, which will adjust the air/fuel mixture. The colder the air, the more oxygen molecules are contained in a cubic inch, which is better for performance.

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This holds the connecting rod and piston together.

It may be small, but the gudgeon pin performs a big job. It's subjected to tremendous forces constantly, meaning this little component is one tough cookie.

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This part can trigger a warning if your oil level is too low.

The oil pressure sensor performs an absolutely vital function for your engine, because without it you could run the engine dry, causing different parts to seize.

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This is the final part to transport fuel to the injectors.

The fuel rail subjects the fuel to an incredible amount of pressure, which is necessary before its sent to each of the injectors in turn.

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This part protects the timing belt from interference and the elements.

Before you can even inspect your engine's timing belt, you have to remove this cover. Hopefully that's an easy process, but that's not always the case.

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The timing belt connects to this part, which also connects to the camshaft.

Both the timing belt and the timing pulley have teeth that intermesh with each other, that way the belt won't slip off the pulley, unless the belt is damaged or worn out.

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You use this to check the oil level in the engine.

Using an oil dipstick is a simple process, but you need to clean it off and then reinsert it into the tube for an accurate reading.

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This part maintains proper valve clearance with the rocker.

Valve lifters that are hydraulic don't require adjustments on a regular basis, so they're much lower maintenance. It's the conventional or solid lifters that require you to stay on top of regular adjustments.

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This device sends oil to the various parts of the engine.

Oil naturally flows down, thanks to gravity, collecting in the sump. The oil pump will send the oil to the various parts of the engine, ensuring everything is lubricated properly, avoiding engine failure.

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This part keeps exhaust gases flowing into the manifold.

Like the other gaskets on the engine, this one is used to create an airtight seal. Without it, the exhaust gases could collect under the hood of the car, which is a dangerous situation for everyone in the cabin.

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In some overhead cam engines, this part interacts with the camshaft and opens the valve.

Whether the rocker arms are pushed up or down by the camshaft lobes, the purpose is to actuate the valves, ensuring the flow of intake mixture and exhaust gases happens exactly when it should.

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Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you have gears in your head instead of the traditional gray matter? Are you always thinking about how engines run, learning about the different designs out there? 

Engines can be incredibly complex. Of course, early designs were relatively simple, usually only having a few dozen parts or so. Thanks to the desire for smoother operation, more power, less noise, greater reliability, increased longevity, lowered emissions, improved fuel efficiency and more, the design of modern engines has evolved into something far more complex. Your engine might contain hundreds of parts, which all serve a very precise purpose.

It's amazing to think how quickly the different actions happen inside your engine, all without problems, at least for the most part. To regard engines as anything other than mechanical miracles is to not appreciate them nearly enough. Just let something obscure go wrong with your engine, especially something that leaves you stranded on the side of the road, and you'll come to a whole new appreciation for the complexity of these machines.

Just how much do you know about the different components in various engines? Could you guess what a component is with a short hint? Try out your skills now by taking this quiz!

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