The Official HowStuffWorks Engine Quiz


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: M_a_y_a / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

There's no doubt about it. The internal combustion engine is one of the most important inventions in the world of transport and certainly right up there as well in human history.

Where would we be without it? Well, probably still using a horse and carriage. And let's be honest, cleaning up after a horse certainly isn't much fun! Cars are one of the most significant forms of transport ever invented. Why? Well, they provide personal freedom at a relatively cheap price. Sure, an aircraft or helicopter might be significantly cooler (although gearheads might argue the point), but they are much more expensive and out of the reach of most people.

But let's get back to your car's engine. It is a complex thing with thousands and thousands of parts which work in perfect harmony ... mostly! When one breaks, even the smallest of parts, you might have some major problems.

And modern engines are not only mechanical but even have complex onboard computers that help them to run.

In this quiz, we are going to explore interesting facts about engines and see just how much you know about them. Some questions are a breeze, while others will really test your knowledge!

Good luck!


Who invented the diesel engine?

It was German engineer Rudolf Diesel who introduced the world to the diesel engine in the 1890s. He applied for a patent in 1892, which he received a year later. However, early diesel engines were large and cumbersome.


Which famous Ford engine, first seen in 1932, is still revered today and much loved in the hot rod community?

Released by Ford in 1932, the Flathead V8 was a revelation. It was cheap to make, powerful, and like nothing else on the market. Even during the Great Depression, it became a favorite.


Muscle cars are known for their powerful engines. What is the engine type most associated with them?

Although not all muscle cars have been marketed with V8 engines, the ones that matter have! A muscle car without a V8 is just wrong in our books. And it doesn't need to be a big block V8—a small block is fine as well!


Which of these parts is exclusively found in a diesel engine?

A glow plug is only found in diesel engines. It helps start the engine by heating, making it turn over easier, especially in cold conditions. Essentially, glow plugs are tiny heaters.


From these options, pick the engine found in a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350?

As iconic as any car ever made, the Shelby Mustang GT350 was powered by the Ford 302 V8. So not only did it look good, it had the power to match!


When the camshaft turns, it does so at what ratio to the crankshaft?

For every two turns of the turn of the crankshaft, the camshaft turns half a turn. This is achieved through gearing.


An essential part of the engine, this helps to keep the lubricating liquid as clean as possible. What part are we talking about?

Oil keeps all the moving parts of an engine lubricated. An oil filter helps to remove impurities in the oil that might damage the engine. Generally, the oil filter is changed when your car is serviced.


From the list below, what burns within the engine to keep the combustion process going and the engine running?

The air/gasoline mixture is ignited by the spark from the spark plug. This starts the combustion process within the cylinder which is necessary to keep the engine running.


Can you name the famous Italian brand responsible for the Colombo engine?

The Colombo engine was made by Ferrari between 1947 and 1988. It takes its name from its designer, Gioacchino Colombo and was a 60 degree V12 configuration.


In which brand did Chevrolet introduce their small-block V8 engine?

The legendary Chevrolet small-block V8 was first seen on the Camaro when it was introduced in 1967. It proved that small-block V8's were also perfect for muscle cars and provide over 300 bhp.


Which of these parts is not involved in the ignition system of the engine?

The catalytic converter has nothing to do with starting a car. It deals with the emissions produced by the engine.


What do spark plugs need before they can provide a spark to ignite the fuel/air mixture?

A high-voltage charge, generated by the ignition, is needed at exactly the right time to ensure the spark plug ignites the air/fuel mixture. Without it, the car simply won't start.


Can you identify the part that gets gas from the tank to the engine?

A fuel pump makes sure fuel gets from the area where it is stored (the fuel tank) to the engine where it is burnt to help propulsion. A broken fuel pump means the engine will not receive any gas and the car will not go.


What is another name for a rotary 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.


Which race engine grabbed 64 out of 78 race wins including six Indy 500s?

Six Indy 500s and 64 race wins! Those are some impressive numbers. And Chevrolet achieved it by teaming up with British engine maker, Ilmor.


Which of these is a famous muscle car engine?

The V8 Hemi engine was a product of Chrysler. It received its name from the fact that it has hemispherical combustion chambers. The Hemi was the powerplant for a number of cars, not only muscle cars.


In an overhead cam engine, where is the camshaft positioned in relation to the valves?

Overhead cam engines have a camshaft situated above the valves. This is the most common type of layout in engines.


The combustion process in a diesel engine starts with which of these below?

The fuel/air mixture in a diesel engine is combusted through compression in a muscle car. This is achieved by the piston forcing the air and compressing it until combustion occurs.


From these engines, which has the highest compression ratio?

A diesel engine combusts the fuel air mixture in a different way to a gas engine. It will use compression of the piston to do this. This generates heat which eventually combusts the fuel/air mixture.


First released in 1955, over a million units of this small-block V8 were built by 1956—it was that popular. What make of engine is it?

The Chevrolet small-block V8 was first released in 1955 and by the end of that year, over a million had been built. Simple, yet effective and powerful, derivatives of this engine are still made today and over 100 million have been made.


What important component under the hood will rotate an engine just enough to get it rotating on its own?

The primary role of the starter is to turn the engine over, causing it to fire and to run on its own. Starters can sometimes be the main cause of an engine not starting, especially if they jam.


What is the name of the engine part found between the crankshaft and the engine block?

The main bearings are found between the crankshaft and the block. The crankshaft rotates on these bearings. They are kept lubricated by engine oil.


By what other name is a horizontally opposed engine known?

A boxer engine, or horizontally opposed engine, sees cylinders arranged on either side of a crankshaft. Boxer engines are found in a range of Porsche models as well as those from Subaru.


In terms of displacement, which of these would be accurate for the engine in the Ford Model T?

The Ford Model T was powered by a 2.9-liter inline-four engine for the length of its production run. Of course, it was modified over time and produced more horsepower towards the end. The engine was also used in boating and engineering.


Which American manufacturer introduced the "Stovebolt" engine in 1929?

The "Stovebolt" was introduced by Chevrolet in 1929. It replaced the older straight-four 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 combustion process in a diesel engine is caused by which of these below?

A diesel engine is a compression ignition engine and not a spark ignition engine. This is because compression of the air by the piston causes combustion.


Can you name the car part that not only runs electrical systems but helps start the car as well?

The battery on your car is one of the most crucial engine components. Not only does it ensure that the starter motor turns over, thus beginning the process that starts the engine, it also runs other systems, including the radio as well as lights, both internal and external.


If your brake pedal feels spongy, what does it mean?

If any air has worked its way into the brake system, the brake pedal will immediately feel spongy. The brakes will need to be bled to remedy the situation.


What is it called when air circulates through an engine?

Most vehicles you will see on the road run normally aspirated engines. Other engines might have superchargers or turbochargers.


From the list below, can you name the car part that brings fuel to the engine?

The fuel line connects the gas tank of a vehicle with the engine. It is tasked with bringing gasoline from the tank where it is stored to the engine when it is started and running. The gasoline is passed through a filter to remove any impurities in it. Impurities, if not removed, can damage the engine leading to costly repairs.


Which Ford engine was produced between 1965 and 1996?

Produced for a 31-year period between 1965 and 1996, the 300 I-6 from Ford was a stalwart of their F-truck series. So impressive was this engine that Ford used it in heavy-duty truck models as well.


Air-cooled engines are far lighter than traditional liquid-cooled engines. Which of these below is true about them?

Air-cooled engines run hotter than a liquid-cooled engine because their is no coolant flowing through it to cool it down. So when the car stops driving, the engine will increase in temperature.


Do you know another name for piston pins?

A piston pin is known as a wrist pin. It's a tubular metal shaft that attaches a piston to a connecting rod. It moves when the piston moves up and down within the cylinder.


Can you name the engine part that converts the mechanical energy produced by the engine to electrical energy?

The alternator is an important part of your car's engine. It takes mechanical energy, converts it into electrical energy, and then uses that to keep the battery charged, for example.


Which car manufacturer is responsible for the famous XK6 engine?

A dual overhead camshaft inline-six engine, the XK6 was first produced by Jaguar in 1949 and remained in production until 1992! Over that time, it was manufactured in five displacement sizes ranging from 2.4 to 4.2 liters.


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