We now continue in our ground breaking series on car parts and what you need to know about them. We have already covered some of the basics you might want to know about. Things like pistons, cylinders and liters, but just like so many other less interesting topics, there is plenty more to know. For instance, do you know what dual overhead cams are? Right, let’s begin.
“Dual overhead cams” is another one of those fancy terms that people will try to impress you with because generally speaking they are on higher performance cars. When a piston pumps in a cylinder it sucks in the air needed to ignite the gasoline. Each piston has valves that open to let air in and exhaust out. Cams are the lobes that press on the valves to open and close them. Pretty simple, really. A high performance engine will often have four valves per cylinder. Four valves will equal two cams per cylinder, hence the “dual” part. Overhead literally refers to the position of the cams over the cylinders. This is important because overhead cams are much more efficient and dual cams produce more energy and power then single cams. For your average car this is really a nonissue, but if you want high horsepower bragging rights then it is crucial.
Spark plugs are another term you have probably heard, and at some point you probably needed yours changed. This is one of those small but very important pieces that if one goes bad you will soon know it. Remember, the engine basically creates a controlled explosion. Air mixes with fuel and a spark sets it off. Care to guess where that spark comes from? You got it, the spark plug.
The plug sits at the top of the cylinder head. When the piston pumps down, it sucks in the air and gas, then when it pumps back up it compresses it all together and pushes it into the spark plug, which ignites everything. The force of the explosion pushes the piston back down. The pistons are attached to a crankshaft that turns the energy into a circular motion that ultimately turns the tires.
Another item that needs to be replaces if your air filter. Remember how the pistons suck in air when they pump? The air flows through an air filter that helps keep out the dust and other junk that would clog up your engine. A dirty air filter isn’t the worst thing in the world for used vehicles, but it can greatly reduce your fuel efficiency and gas mileage. It should be noted that nobody should every pay to have their air filter replaced. It is an incredibly cheap and easy thing to do. Just consult your manual for the filters location on the car and any auto parts store can look up the filter you need.
So see, that isn’t so bad is it? In some ways the idea behind a car engine is fairly simple. Of course the actual mechanics and engineering is complicated but now at least you can impress your friends next time you talk about cars.