What happens in a car engine

Funny words from the car world: What does a cylinder do in a car?

There are many terms in the automotive industry that you won't understand straight away. This is called technical language. Under some of these words you will probably imagine something completely different at first, because you know the words, but from a different context. Genius explains such terms to you. Today: the cylinder.

When you hear about a top hat, you think of Scrooge McDuck's hat immediately. But a top hat is not only used as a headgear for the most famous duck in the world. He also makes sure that cars can drive.

What exactly is a cylinder in a car?

You probably know that every car needs an engine to get around. It is one of the most important parts of a vehicle and consists of quite a few individual parts. One of them is the cylinder. Just think of it as a shape that resembles a tall and narrow pot. Each engine has several of these cylinders. Like most automobiles, your parents' car probably has four of them. But there are also vehicles with more cylinders. A Formula 1 car, for example, uses eight. In case you are now wondering why the same number of cylinders are not always used: the more an engine has, the faster a car can drive, to put it simply.

The cylinder and its other components

A shape alone that looks like Scrooge McDuck's hat makes a car drive? Not quite! Because there are a few more parts to it. For example the piston. It sits in the cylinder and connects the engine to the drive, to which the wheels are also attached. The piston has the task of transmitting the power of the engine to the wheels so that they turn. How does that happen? First of all, an explosion is responsible for this, which is triggered in the cylinder by the ignition of a mixture of fuel - i.e. gasoline or diesel - and air. The mixture is pumped into the cylinder and exploded by sparks from the spark plug. The pressure created by the explosion is completely transferred to the piston thanks to the shape and construction of the cylinder. This makes it move up and down very quickly.

How do the parts make the car drive now?

Now other parts come into play, because the up and down movement of the piston alone does not make the wheels turn. You need to know that the piston inside the cylinder is connected to a couple of rods. These rods are called “connecting rods” and “crankshaft”. They are responsible for converting the movement of the piston into a rotary movement and passing it on to the drive. They do this with their specially curved shape. In the end, the wheel axles belonging to the drive turn and thus also the wheels attached to them.
So a lot happens before a car can drive off. As you have now learned, the cylinder is a very important part. Without it, the explosions and pistons would not have a suitable space and so a car would not even be able to drive.

Post photo: Adobe Stock // popov48

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