The Hardest HowStuffWorks Engine Quiz



By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: gilaxia / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

When we think about important inventions in the history of humankind, the internal combustion engine would certainly rank right up there. It really has made such a great impact on our lives in so many ways, not only when it comes to  personal transportation, but also the economy. If you think about it, what would we do without the car engine?

Engines are complex things, consisting of many parts. And each part is just as important as the next, from the smallest piece to the biggest. If something breaks or malfunctions, you would need it fixed as soon as possible to prevent even further damage to your engine.

Think you know your car engines? Can you tell a piston ring from a sump, or a crankshaft from a connecting rod? We'll soon find out, because in this quiz, we're going to cover almost every aspect of the internal combustion engine and put your knowledge of these technological marvels to the ultimatetest. Do you have what it takes to cross the line and take that checkered flag?

Start your engine and good luck! Go! Go! Go!

Which of these engines generates the most horsepower?

Generally speaking, V8 engines — especially those with a massive displacement like 6.7-liters — are the most powerful around. They are found in all kinds of vehicles, including pickups, SUVs and muscle cars. V8s are thirsty and generally deliver poor gas mileage, however.


In an engine, what does a crankshaft do?

The crankshaft changes the linear motion of the piston stroke into a rotational one, which turns the driveshaft and makes a vehicle move. Of course, its pretty technical how it achieves this, but without it your vehicle is useless!


Which of these parts would a car with fuel injection not have?

In older engines, a carburetor controlled the fuel/air mixture being put into the engine. In modern engines, this is handled by fuel injectors, so there is no need for a carburetor. Carburetors began disappearing from cars in the 1980s.


From the options below, which engine do you think would power a Honda Ridgeline pickup?

A sports utility truck, the Ridgeline was first marketed by Honda in 2005. It is currently in its second generation and is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This gives it 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic gearbox.


Who created the first internal combustion engine in America?

Colonel John Stevens, III is credited with creating the first American internal combustion engine in 1798. He also constructed the first steam locomotive in the country, was responsible for the first steam-powered ferry, and help create the U.S. patent law. Certainly not just your average inventor.


Henry Ford invented his first vehicle in the 1896. Called the Quadricycle, what engine powered it?

Henry Ford's Quadricycle ran on a two-cylinder engine that was capable of producing around 4 horsepower and of achieving speeds of up to 20 mph. The vehicle had two gears, but no reverse. Only four Quadricycles were ever made. The first is now on display at The Henry Ford Museum.


You see a flashing light in the form of a small droplet and a pouring container on your dashboard. What should you check?

This light probably means that the oil level in the car is getting a little low. Ignoring the warning could result in your engine seizing. Oil acts as a lubricant, ensuring that metal parts within the engine do not grind against each other. Also, remember to change the oil in your car as often as the manufacturer recommends.


Engines can be cooled in a number of ways. One is with liquid, such as water or coolant and another is _____?

In air cooled-engines, moving air, caused by the vehicle traveling rushes over hot parts and cools them. Although motorcycles use this form of engine cooling, many cars have as well, for example, the Chevrolet Corvair. Air-cooled engines run hotter than their liquid-cooled counterparts.


Can you tell us which of these parts can be added to an engine to add power?

Turbochargers are a great way to add horsepower to an engine. Essentially, they push extra oxygen into the engine which allows for the combustion process to burn more fuel, providing more power.


In which area of the engine will pistons be found moving up and down?

Pistons are found within a cylinder. It is here where they performing various strokes, such as the intake, compression and power stroke. These all crucial in making sure the engine runs effectively and performs just as it should.


A Chevrolet straight-6 engine, first produced in 1929, was named what?

The Stovebolt was introduced by Chevrolet in 1929. It replaced the older straight-4 engine and was used on a variety of Chevrolet vehicles. The engine was available as a 3.0-liter, 3.2-liter or a 3.4-liter unit. The first generation of this engine was produced until 1936.


Who is considered the father of the modern motor car?

It was Karl Benz who built what is considered to be the first modern motor car in 1885. He called it the Benz Patent Motorwagen. Benz produced 25 of these vehicles until 1893. They cost around 600 German marks, the equivalent of over $4,000 US dollars in today's money.


In a car's engine, what is the purpose of a connecting rod?

Pistons are connected to the crankshaft with connecting rods. Without them, or if the rods break, the pistons cannot move within the cylinder, and are therefore unable to perform the necessary strokes to make the engine run.


Which brothers built the first car in America?

Charles and his brother J. Frank Duryea were responsible for building the first gasoline-powered vehicle in the United States. The brothers went on to form the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1895. By 1905, the company employed 50 workers and produced around 60 vehicles a year.


Can you tell us the other name for a Wankel engine?

A Wankel engine is essentially a rotary engine with all parts rotating in the same direction. It's named after Felix Wankel, the man who invented it. It was created in the 1950s.


What can the engine block also be known as?

The engine block is also often called the cylinder block since it houses the cylinders of the engine. Cylinder blocks can be made from cast iron or an aluminum alloy.


True or false? The Bugatti Veyron hypercar is powered by two V8's which together form a W16 engine?

The engine in a Veyron is a sixteen-cylinder behemoth. It has a four-bank W configuration and produces 987 horsepower! That gives the Veyron a top speed of over 253 mph! Now that will blow your hair back!


How many hours does it take to build a modern car, including its engine?

Automation has cut down the hours it takes to make a car in today's modern world. In most circumstances, it takes just 25 hours, and that includes the complex engine as well! Much of this is due to the fact that many parts of modern vehicles are built by robots.


The Dodge Ram SRT-10 performance pickup has the engine of which sports car in it?

A Dodge Viper 8.3-liter V10 engine in a pickup? Yes, it really happened. The Ram SRT-10 was the fastest production truck at the time, completing 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds and able to reach 154 mph. And all of that power was channeled through a manual transmission!


Early engines had no starter motor. How were they started?

Early vehicles had to be hand cranked to turn the engine over to get them started. Electric starters first appeared in 1912, but took some time to be fitted as a standard feature. Cranked engines could often cause injuries, particularly to shoulders as they could be difficult to turn due to compression within the engine.


What engine would you find in the Shelby Mustang GT350?

Ford picked an incredible car to put their 302 Ford V8 into — the 1967 Shelby GT350. It provided not only power but reliability. An even higher performance version went into 1969s Boss Mustang. These are fine examples of excellent muscle cars.


What should you check if you see a flashing red light consisting of a rectangular shape with a + and - on your dashboard?

In most cases, when the battery warning indicator begins flashing on your dashboard, the battery is not receiving a charge from your alternator. This could be a result of an old, faulty battery or the alternator belt may have broken, preventing the battery from receiving a charge.


In which Japanese brand would you find VTEC engines?

VTEC stands for "Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control." First introduced in 1983 as the HYPER VTEC, it was designed by Ikuo Kajitan. VTEC technology has even been implemented in motorcycles ever since the Honda CB400.


When running your engine, you notice small amounts of black smoke coming from the hood. What could be the cause?

When your car runs too rich, the engine cannot burn all the fuel effectively. Not only is it not running in an optimum way, but you are wasting gas and losing performance.


Your diesel vehicle has suddenly started flashing a warning light on its dashboard. It looks like a thin line making two ovals. What does this mean?

This light will come on when you start your engine, particularly in cold weather. If it stays on, it indicates that a glow plug, which helps to start and warm a diesel engine, is faulty.


True or false? Air-cooled engines run cooler than liquid-cooled engines?

Fluid is more effective at cooling things down than air. Air-cooled engines are often found in motorcycles, but also in older vehicles. The original Volkswagen Beetle made use of an air-cooled engine.


Henry Ford's earliest cars where built by him but used engines from which other manufacturer?

Dodge supplied engines at the rate of 400 per month to Ford in 1905. They also supplied transmission systems. Of course, the most famous Ford, the Model T did have a Ford engine.


True or false? Some modern cars are so quiet, fake engine noises are played through the speakers.

Yes, it is true! An example is the BMW M5. Incredible to think that a beast of an engine like that could be so quiet. To be honest, it seems like a bit of a cop out! We prefer hearing real engines not fake sounds!


A warning light flashing on your dashboard showing a thermometer and wavy lines indicates _______

Failure to see why the temperature light on your dashboard has started flashing could cause your engine to overheat, which can harm it. As soon as you see this light, pull in to your nearest gas station to ensure the radiator is filled to its proper level. Also, check that you do not have a leak of any kind.


In which famous car brand would you find Boxer engines?

A boxer engine features horizontally opposed pistons. Porsche has used them in a number of models over the years, specifically the Porsche Boxter. (The name is a dead giveaway!)


The pistons within an engine are attached to what other part?

The movement of pistons within a cylinder is up and down. When attached to the crankshaft, this movement is changed to a rotary motion which helps drive the vehicle.


What was the name of the first car race in the United States, and when was it held?

In 1895, the Chicago Times-Herald race was the first-ever car race held in the United States. It was won by J. Frank Duryea, the man who built the first automobile in America.


Which Ford engine was developed during the Depression era and remains a legend today?

Introduced in 1932, the Flathead V8 was the first affordable V8 engine in the world, which made it more accessible to people struggling through the Great Depression.


Your car is idling in a very rough fashion and a new set of spark plugs does not fix the problem. What should you check next?

If changing your spark plugs has not stopped the car from idling roughly, the next thing to check is your high tension leads. (Here, "tension" is another word for "voltage.") Always keep these wires free from dampness by spraying WD 40 on the connectors.


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