The Ultimate Automotive Physics Quiz

The Ultimate Automotive Physics Quiz
Image: Martin Barraud/Caiaimage/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Don't be intimidated by this quiz if you don't can't tell a carburetor from an alternator. Take it and learn a little something about what's going on under the hood of your car.
Almost all cars convert gasoline into motion with a _____-stroke combustion cycle.
one
two
three
four
An internal combustion engine uses four strokes: intake, compression, combustion, exhaust.
five

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In a multi-cylinder car engine, what are the three ways in which the cylinders can be arranged?
inline, V and flat
It's inline, V and flat
stacked, Z and inline
flat, T and parallel

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The "big three" engine problems are: lack of spark, lack of compression and ________.
cracked cylinder
oil leak
bad fuel mix
The third common problem is bad fuel mix, which can be caused by a number of factors, including water in the gas tank and the age-old "you're out of gas."
misfiring pistons
electrical malfunction
potato in tailpipe

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Why do you need to keep proper oil levels in your car?
to keep the carburetor carbureting
so the pistons can move in their cylinders
The pistons need oil to keep moving smoothly. If they don't, everything else grinds to a halt, too.
so the valves can open and close
to avoid overreliance on the alternator

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What's one component a gasoline engine has that a diesel engine doesn't?
spark plugs
In a gas engine, the spark from the spark plugs ignites the fuel. In a diesel engine, the fuel is ignited by the heat and pressure of the compression stroke in the cylinder.
alternator
piston
turbine
supercharger
intercooler
connecting rod

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What's the system that opens and closes a car's valves?
rotor
camshaft
The camshaft operates the valves. You might have heard of "overhead cams," which means the camshaft is above the valves.
distributor
ignition module
carburetor
timing belt

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What are the two components of a car's cooling system?
carburetor and water pump
coil and radiator
radiator and water pump
The radiator and water pump comprise the cooling system in most cars -- in the Volkswagen Beetle, however, the engine is air-cooled.

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What engine component is absent in a fuel-injected car?
catalytic converter
carburetor
Carburetors were basically rendered obsolete by fuel injection.
muffler
alternator
rotor
turbocharger

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The catalytic converter is part of which engine system?
air-intake
emission control
The catalytic converter basically is the emission control system -- it monitors unused fuel and other chemicals in the exhaust.
valve train
cooling

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The three most important factors in car aerodynamics are drag, lift and __________.
downforce
Downforce is the opposite of lift -- the force that presses an object in the direction of the ground.
upforce

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As an object accelerates, its velocity and drag …
increase
As an object accelerates, it's velocity and drag increase.
decrease

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What happens when a car's drag is equal to its weight?
Its acceleration rate doubles.
It can no longer accelerate.
Drag increases and becomes equal to weight as a car's speed increases. More and more air pushes against it and eventually restricts its speed.
It spontaneously combusts.

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Car designers use this information to figure out a car's drag coefficient. The lower the drag coefficient, the ___________ a car is.
more aerodynamic
Low drag coefficient = more aerodynamic
less aerodynamic

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What's the drag coefficient of most cars today?
0.3
The equation is too complicated to go into here, but it comes out to around .3 for most cars.
0.7
2.1
3.2

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What's the drag coefficient of most SUVs and pickup trucks?
0.2
0.3
0.4
SUVs and pickup trucks are bigger and boxier -- and therefore less aerodynamic -- than cars, so they have a slightly higher drag coefficient, usually about .4.
0.5

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Decreasing a car's drag coefficient by .01 can result in how much of an increase in fuel economy?
.2 miles per gallon
Reducing a car's drag coefficient by .01 can result in a 0.2 miles per gallon (.09 kilometers per liter) increase in fuel economy.
2 miles per gallon

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What's the drag coefficient of the Toyota Prius?
0.16
0.26
The Prius has a drag coefficient of .26, which is part of why it gets such good gas mileage.
0.36

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In the 1930s, Chrysler introduced a car that made major improvements in aerodynamics. What was it called?
the Arrow
the Aero
the Aviator
the Airflow
The Chrysler Airflow had a drag coefficient of only .27, but it flopped because consumers didn't like the way it looked.
the Teardrop

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Car designers used to use wind tunnels to test aerodynamics, but now they generally utilize _________.
computer simulations
Wind tunnels are now increasingly used just to test the accuracy of computer simulations.
outdoor test tracks

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A typical Formula One racecar has a drag coefficient of .7 -- so how does it go so fast?
The lift is maximized.
The downforce is maximized.
F1 racecars are so lightweight and hit such high speeds that they can begin to experience lift. So downforce is maximized with wings and spoilers that channel airflow toward the ground.

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You Got:
/20
Martin Barraud/Caiaimage/Getty Images

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