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Small Block Chevrolet Engines
A pic of a 357 cid. Small Block Chevy Engine
A pic of an aftermarket Small Block Chevy Engine with 357cid.
Big Block Chevrolet Engine
A pic of a 760 cid Big Block Chevy Engine
A pic of an aftermarket Big Block Chevy Engine. This one with 760cid!!

Basic Definition of Car Engines

Car engines are internal combustion engines and they work by converting gasoline into mechanical energy (motion). In order to create mechanical energy, car engines needs to combust (explode) gasoline in a closed chamber to push of a mechanical part (piston) down and up.

The up and down motion of the piston creates a circular motion in the crankshaft via the connecting rods. This is more clearly seen in the animated picture above.

Car engines are actually simple but ingenious in design. Almost all car engines today are four-stroke engines.

This means that there are four stages on how an engine transforms gasoline into mechanical energy. These stages are the intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.

Each stroke (stage) is a representation of the upward or downward movement of the pistons inside the chamber of the engine. We all know that gasoline lights up when ignited.

Now in order for gasoline to combust (explode), it needs to be mixed with oxygen (air) then compressed before being ignited. The by-product or the exhaust then needs to be released. These all happens in the four strokes (stages) of your engine.

Four Strokes of an Engine

Intake Stroke:
This is where the position of the piston inside the chamber is lowest.

As the piston moves down to it’s lowest point, gasoline and oxygen (air) is introduced inside the chamber.

Most of today’s car engines introduce gasoline through a needle like system called fuel injection.

This enables for a more controlled and accurate mixture of fuel and air inside the chamber and increases the efficiency (miles per gallon) of your car.

Compression Stroke
After the fuel-air mixture is introduced inside the chamber, the piston now moves upwards (by the force of the combustion). This compresses the mixture of fuel and air inside the chamber to a point where it can be combusted.

Combustion Stroke
As the piston reaches the topmost part of the chamber (also known as the Top Dead Center or TDC) spark kicks in to ignite the compressed air-fuel mixture. The spark is generated by the spark plug in gasoline engines or by the glow plug in diesel engines.

The force of the combustion pushes the pistons downwards and is converted into a circular motion by the connection of the connection rods to the crankshaft. The circular motion of the crankshaft is the actual mechanical part, which makes the wheels (and other mechanical systems) turn.

Exhaust Stroke

After the air-fuel mixture combust and the pistons pushed downward, the chamber is now filled with exhaust (the by-product of the air-fuel combustion). As the piston again reaches it’s lowest point, the energy of the combustion of air-fuel mixture is still in the piston and the only way for it to move is upward. At this point, a second valve is opened to let the exhaust escape the chamber as the piston moves upward.

4 strokes of an internal combustion engine

The liters and the V’s

The liters that you always see or hear when buying are actually the amount of space in all piston chambers of your car’s engine. A bigger chamber of course would mean more air-fuel mixture could be combusted. More air-fuel combustion means bigger explosion and bigger explosion means more power.

The letter V that you see, which is usually beside the number of liters, refers to the type of engine. There are three types of engines used today; these are the inline, V’s and flat. To distinguish these types of engines, refer to the pictures below.

Different Engine Configurations

Chevrolet Camaro Engines



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