How Does a Car Engine Work?

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A car engine works by a system of pistons that turn a crankshaft, and the crankshaft operates the transmission that controls the drive axles. Understand how a car engine operates with automotive advice from an ASE-certified master mechanic in this free video on car maintenance.

Part of the Video Series: Car Maintenance & Troubleshooting
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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Mark. In this segment we're going to cover how a car engine works. And I'm going to give you a brief explanation of how the engine works. Basically, how the engine works, this is a four cylinder engine, so it has four pistons going up and down. Those pistons turn a crankshaft. That crankshaft is connected to a transmission, either manual or automatic. The transmission turns the drive wheels, and the car moves forward. How this happens is, as the piston goes down, it draws in a mixture of fresh air. The computer provides a pulse of fuel to mix and atomize with that air. As the piston comes up, it creates a compression. Spark is delivered by the ignition system at the correct time to ignite that air-fuel mixture, which causes an explosion or a controlled burn, which forces the piston back down, thus turning the crankshaft which is connected to the transmission, which is connected through the drive axles to the wheels and moving the car forward. That's a brief explanation of how a car engine works. Thank you for watching.


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