The Engine Quiz

By: Staff

Image: Test Hero Credit

About This Quiz

Is your brain up to figuring out the workings of an internal combustion engine? Most modern cars use internal combustion engines (or the reciprocating piston engine, as some call it). But engines have a long and fascinating history and have been engineered in many shapes, sizes and styles. Do you know how many cylinders are in your engine? If you don’t, then taking this quiz is more vital than ever.

How are cylinders configured in an inline engine? What about a flat engine? What’s your knowledge of the V configuration? Is your mind already reeling or are you revved up with excitement for what’s about to take place?

How many strokes are in a typical engine cycle? Is diesel better than gasoline? Why did the steam engine become nearly extinct? Buckle up, because you're about to turbocharge your knowledge of car engines. Already know your stuff? We want to see you prove it.

So grab your tools and get ready to get grease under your fingernails. It's time to take the engine quiz!

What happens if your car leaks or burns off all of its oil?

Oil lubricates the pistons so they can glide inside the cylinders, and, without oil, pistons will get stuck and the engine will come to a grinding halt.


What are two key components of the engine cooling system in most cars?

The water pump circulates the coolant which draws heat from the engine. The coolant then returns to the radiator which disperses the heat.


What are three common ways to deliver fuel to an engine?

As engine science has evolved, carburetion, port fuel injection and direct fuel injection have all gotten the job done.


What is an octane rating?

The octane rating indicates how much the fuel can be compressed before igniting (the higher the number, the greater the compression potential). Also, a high octane number is more resistant to engine knock.


What is an engine’s redline?

An engine’s redline, which is displayed on the tachometer, shows its maximum revolutions per minute, or rpm, and indicates the engine's top speed.


A car engine's job is to:

Your car engine is a complicated machine that takes in fuel and air and creates movement. Think about that the next time the engine light comes on!


A car uses a four-stroke engine. The four strokes are:

You may have heard of a two-stroke engine as well — you can often find them in lawn mowers and other small engine devices. Car engines run on a four-stroke cycle — intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.


A crankshaft's job in an engine is to:

When fuel ignites in a cylinder, the piston moves the connecting rod up and down, which turns the crankshaft and creates rotation.


A timing belt, or timing chain, links these two components:

A timing belt, or timing chain, synchronizes the crankshaft and the camshaft. The camshaft turns half as often as the crankshaft.


In a car engine's cylinders, valves let fuel in and exhaust out. The _____ moves these valves.

A camshaft is a rotating rod that opens and closes the valves with radial cams. Most modern engines have overhead cams, meaning the camshaft is above the valves.


A turbocharger is:

Both forced induction methods, turbochargers and superchargers get more air into the engine which can boost engine power.


When you turn the car key, the starter motor:

The starter motor powers the engine for the first two strokes (Intake and compression), at which point the engine becomes self-sustaining. The car battery is responsible for powering the starter motor.


Why don’t we use steam engines as much anymore?

From an efficiency standpoint, internal combustion engines beat out external combustion engines.


What might happen if water gets into your gas tank?

Water can dampen the combustion process. Simply emptying the tank and adding new fuel is often the best remedy.


Which of these cars features a popular example of an air-cooled engine?

The VW Beetle was given an air-cooled engine because it cost less money to manufacture.


Which of the following vehicles commonly use air-cooled engines?

Many motorcycles use air-cooled engines, which are louder than liquid-cooled models.


What are the three functions of engine oil?

The oil pan is bolted to the engine block and holds the oil that gets circulated through your engine parts.


Why does engine oil need to be changed?

Whether your car requires an oil change every three months or six months, you need to keep your oil clean to keep your car engine running. Also, since some aging engines tend to lose a bit, make sure the oil's volume stays where it needs to be.


What does ECM stand for, and what does it do?

The ECM is the computer that oversees the functions of your engine to make sure everything is running efficiently.


Aside from the "classic" steam engines, what is one example of an external combustion engine used today?

A power plant using natural gas heats water until it boils and turns to steam. This turns a turbine and generates electricity.


Three basic failures that can happen in an engine include a bad fuel mix, lack of compression and:

Fuel, compression and fire — these are just a few key things that can go haywire under your hood.


What are three common ways to arrange an engine’s cylinders?

Did you know? The old-school VW Beetle is a classic example of the flat configuration.


What are two other terms for engine knock?

No matter the name, engine knock can seriously mess up your engine.


What was an example of a steam-powered car?

Did you know? From 1899 to around 1905, Stanley Steamers outsold gasoline-powered automobiles.


What is a big advantage of a four-cylinder engine today?

Downsize to a four-cylinder engine and you can save some cash at the pump.


When a car's engine is running, power to operate the radio, CD player, headlights and windshield wipers comes from the:

After you start your car, the alternator recharges the battery and keeps your electrical components running. Running things from the battery alone will drain it rather quickly.


Name one of the causes of engine knock.

Engine knock can be caused by multiple issues, and automakers recommend putting in new spark plugs around 30,000 miles.


Why does a diesel engine get better mileage than a gasoline engine?

Diesel provides great fuel economy and is more energy dense than regular gasoline. Maintenance cost for diesel engines, however, is generally more than gasoline engines.


A device that works on the same principle as a car engine is:

A spud gun and a car engine both operate by igniting fuel in a chamber.


What’s another name for the four-stroke engine cycle?

The Otto cycle is named after its inventor, Nikolaus Otto.


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