Car Engine Quiz!

By: Staff
Image: iStock by Getty Images

About This Quiz

How savvy are you about how your car engine works? Take this quiz to find out!

Many people know very little about how their car engine works. Other than the benefit of turning the key and pushing on the gas and making the vehicle go vroom, most of us are blissfully ignorant about what makes things work under the hood (until the check engine light comes on, of course). But as "simple" as the combustion engine is in theory, there is quite a bit going on at the front of your car every time you turn the key.

As much as you'd like to believe it's that expensive fuel that makes your car move, it's actually air. Yup, that's right. Air powers your car. What else don't we know about our cars? What does "horsepower" mean exactly? What's the deal with diesel? What do those 87 and 89 numbers mean at the pump?

So whether you like to wrench on cars or just want to learn a little bit more about this highly involved, high octane machine, we think we've got the quiz to get your motor going.

Think you've got the mechanical smarts to ace this quiz? Let's find out!

A car engine is what type of combustion engine?

The go-to example of an external combustion engine would be the steam engine.

Nikolaus Otto invented an engine with a four-stroke cycle in what year?

As a result, the four-stroke cycle is often called the Otto cycle.

The stroke that lets in air and fuel is the _____ stroke.

During intake, air and fuel are mixed and then brought into the cylinder.

The stroke that makes the explosion more powerful is the _____ stroke.

During compression, the piston compresses the fuel and air.

During the combustion stroke, the _____ ignites the gasoline.

The explosion from the spark plug pushes the piston down.

The _____ joins the piston to the crankshaft.

The connecting rod extends down from the piston and connects to the crankshaft.

What is the final process in the four-stroke cycle?

Exhaust valves release the burnt fuel via the car's exhaust system.

The _____ is the part of the engine that changes the linear motion of the piston into rotational motion.

Rotational motion is the type needed to rotate the wheels of the car.

The piston moves up and down inside of the _____.

Most cars have either four, six or eight cylinders.

The three most common arrangements of cylinders in an engine are inline, V and _____.

Inline, V and flat cylinder arrangements each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The _____ arrangement of cylinders has all the cylinders in a line in a single bank.

The simple inline arrangement makes these engines easier to manufacture than V and flat types.

The spark plug _____ the air and fuel.

Timing the spark plug ignition is critical for the engine to work correctly.

What moves up and down inside the cylinder?

The piston tightly fits inside the cylinder to seal air and gas and control the combustion process.

Engines using overhead cams have their camshaft located _____ the valves.

The rotating movement from the camshaft opens and shuts the cylinder's intake valves.

A timing belt or timing chain links the _____ and the _____ so valves and pistons stay in sync.

Synchronizing the crankshaft and camshaft is important for the valves and pistons to perform their best.

A camshaft turns at _____ the rate of the crankshaft.

Gearing allows the camshaft to turn once for every two turns of the crankshaft.

The spark plug needs a _____ from the ignition system to work.

Creating the spark to ignite the air and fuel mixture requires a precisely timed high-voltage electrical charge.

Air-cooled engines are typically lighter but run _____ than liquid-cooled engines.

The vintage Volkswagen Beetle is a favorite example of an air-cooled engine.

Many cars use an air circulation technique known as _____.

Also known as naturally aspirated engines, these engines take in air without forced induction.

Turbocharged and supercharged engines first do what to the air before mixing it with fuel?

Forced induction increases airflow to the cylinders which increases the performance of the engine.

The pressurization amount used in turbocharging and supercharging engines is called _____.

Higher pressure means a bigger boost.

What spins the crankshaft a few revolutions so the combustion process can start?

Because it is electrical, the starter motor can't start the engine when your battery is dead.

The fuel system of an engine takes gas from a gas tank and mixes it with what?

Mixing the proper amount of gas and air makes sure your engine is working efficiently.

The device that mixes gas into air as the air flows into the engine is called the _____.

If the carburetor doesn’t mix air and gas in the right amount it could be wasting gas or causing the engine to produce less power.

The exhaust pipe and the muffler are part of what system?

The exhaust system removes burnt gasses from the car's combustion chamber.

The liquid used in the engine’s lubrication system is _____.

Oil helps lubricate the engine parts like pistons and bearings to help those parts move more easily and reduce wear.

The purpose of a catalytic converter is to _____.

An emission control system helps clean harmful chemicals from the exhaust by running the exhaust through the catalytic converter before it exits the tail pipe.

The battery in most cars used to start the motor, which in turn starts the engine, is typically what kind?

The powerful 12-volt battery runs the starter motor and then is recharged by the alternator once the engine is running.

Using bigger cylinders or more cylinders increases engine displacement which results in _____.

More engine displacement means you can burn more gas which means more power.

Cooling the air entering the cylinders in some supercharged and turbocharged engines is done by the _____.

Cooling the air allows room for more oxygen and better combustion.

How does a dual exhaust system help an engine run more efficiently?

Dual exhaust systems help reduce air resistance of exhaust leaving the engine’s cylinders. This helps avoid back pressure.

What part is not used in a diesel engine that is used in a gasoline engine?

Don't let anyone sell you spark plugs for your diesel engine! Diesel engines use the heat and pressure from compression to ignite the fuel in the cylinder.

Internal combustion engines need pure, high-quality liquid or gaseous _____.

Internal combustion engines can use gasoline, diesel or alternative/renewable fuel.

Which fuel source, in general, is more efficient at generating torque?

This is why diesel vehicles are largely better at towing.

Engine knock is the engine problem best described by:

Engine knock is the result of improperly ignited fuel interfering with the engine cycles.

What does octane rating mean?

Using the right type of fuel for your vehicle is important. Different engines perform their best with the right octane rating.

The electronic device that monitors and controls the fuel and air mixture and spark timing is called what?

Engine control modules use a network of sensors to make sure the right amounts of fuel and air are properly ignited.

Which of the following does NOT describe “horsepower”?

Did you know? James Watt created the measurement of horsepower while watching ponies and horses at work.

Which of the following is not part of a gasoline engine?

The speedometer measures the velocity of the car as a whole, but it doesn’t directly measure or control the engine.

The _____ contains oil that helps keep engine parts lubricated and clean.

The oil pan usually contains between four and six quarts.

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