Can You Name These Engine Parts from a One-Sentence Description?


By: Annette

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Engines are some of the most technologically interesting machines on the planet. They’re the result of years of invention, innovation and mastery. You ride in your car every day without realizing the amazing process that’s happening right under the hood.

Camshafts, intake valves, combustion chambers, valve springs, cylinder heads — your internal combustion engine is the heart of your vehicle, but all the parts form an intricate system of veins and arteries that keep the whole thing moving. Whether you need to make sure your knowledge is really up to snuff, or you’re just a little bored at work and mechanically minded, this quiz will give you the ride of your life.

Do cars have more than one piston and valve? Does increasing the number of pistons give you more power? Hey, you’ve got an inquisitive mind, a desire to understand your vehicle and an honest-to-goodness need for speed. 

And just because you read this far, here’s a fun fact: A cannon is really just a simple type of combustion engine. The cannonball is packed into the cannon, along with gunpowder. When you light the gunpowder, it creates gas and pressure, so the cannonball flies. See how fascinating this stuff is? Let’s do this!

What do you call the bearings between the crankshaft and the block?

The crankshaft spins on the main bearings, which provides support.


What's another name for head bolts?

Head bolts, aka cylinder head bolts, secure a cylinder head and gasket to the engine block.


What keeps a piston pin in place?

The piston pin clip is used to keep the piston in place. It is secured on both sides.


What do you call a counter-weighted engine shaft?

The balance shaft is counter-weighted to offset unwanted crankshaft vibrations.


What longer name does SOHC stand for?

The single overhead camshaft refers to an engine with one camshaft that operates both the exhaust and intake valves.


What metal piece moves up and down within a cylinder of the engine block?

The piston fits snugly within the cylinder. It is attached to the connecting rod and moves up and down within the cylinder during the combustion process.


What is the name of the lever driven by a pushrod or camshaft lobe?

The rocker arm is driven by a pushrod or camshaft lobe. This transfers motion to open and close the valves.


What's bolted onto the cylinder head to create a protective lid?

The valve cover is bolted onto the cylinder head. It acts as a protective lid. The cover gasket, on the other hand, is placed between the valve cover and the cylinder head.


What's another name for a tappet?

A tappet is a valve filter. It's a cylindrical piece, actuated by the camshaft.


What serves as the engine's oil reservoir?

The oil pan serves as the oil reservoir. It's a removable part that is mounted on the bottom of the cylinder block.


What part reduces friction that occurs during motion between various components​?

A bearing is a curved metal piece that reduces friction between components. It comes in many shapes and sizes.


This forms the mechanical link between the piston and crankshaft.

The connecting rod forms the mechanical link between the piston and crankshaft. It converts the up-and-down motion of the pistons into the crankshaft's rotary motion​.


What part has a set of teeth?

A sprocket is a wheel with a set of teeth on the outer circumference. It drives items like the timing chain/timing belt.


What does DOHC stand for?

A DOHC is a Dual (or Double) Overhead Camshaft. It's similar to the SOHC (Single Overhead Camshaft), but with an extra camshaft!


Which item is toothed?

The timing belt is a toothed belt. It's usually made of reinforced rubber and it rides on the sprockets.


Which is the real car part?

The cog belt is a toothed belt. A harp pincher and a gallows monger are ... well, whatever you want them to be.


What is an oil slinger?

An oil slinger is a cone-shaped collar that uses centrifugal force to distribute oil.


What allows burned exhaust gases out of the cylinder?

An exhaust valve is a camshaft-driven valve in the cylinder head. It releases exhaust gases after combustion.


A harmonic balancer is also known as what?

'Vibration damper' is another name for the harmonic balancer. Both these names sound like they should be used for musical instruments.


What engine part is also known as a sleeve?

The cylinder liner is a replaceable, hollow tube that fits into the cylinder bore.


What houses the pistons, crankshaft and cylinders?

The engine block is the lower section of the engine. It is cast out of metal and houses the crankshaft, pistons and cylinders.


Which of these is a real valve?

The intake valve is camshaft driven and located in the cylinder head.


What is known as a harmonic balancer?

The harmonic balancer is the pulley bolted to the crankshaft. It helps dampen crankshaft vibrations.


Which of these is not a car part?

Timing tubing is not a part. Tubes cannot time. Time cannot be tubed. You get the picture!


What is another name for a cam follower?

The cam follower, also known as a cam lifter, follows the cam lobe profile.


Which piston ring controls oil consumption in the cylinder?

The oil control ring controls oil consumption within the cylinder. It falls under the umbrella of piston rings.


What is a valve lifter that maintains zero valve clearance?

The hydraulic valve lifter uses hydraulic oil pressure. It eliminates the need for valve adjustments.


Which piston ring prevents compression loss?

The compression ring is a piston ring that forms a seal with the cylinder wall.


In sports cars, what type of crankshaft main bearing cap is used?

The four-bolt main is the crankshaft main bearing cap used on high-performance vehicles. It's held in place by four bolts instead of two.


Which plug provides pressure relief when coolant freezes?

The expansion plug provides pressure relief for changing temperatures. This is necessary when coolant expands and freezes.


Which engine part is filled with the element that goes by the symbol "Na"?

This type of valve contains sodium, along with a hollow space. When heated, the sodium melts and helps cool things down.


A piston pin is also known as what?

A piston pin, sometimes called a gudgeon pin in the UK, is a tubular metal shaft that attaches a piston to a connecting rod.


What is the bearing surface for the piston pin?

The piston pin bushing is removable. It serves as a bearing surface for the pin.


What retainer is held in place by nuts and bolts?

The bearing cap is a retainer usually held in place by threaded studs and bolts, securing the bearing shell.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!