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Automotive Technology

This guide will help with understanding the basics of Automotive Technology, maintenance, and repair.

Additional Resources for Automotive Engine Performance


All about Automotive Engine

Basic Parts of an Engine

Engine block: the main component of the engine. All other components of the motor are essentially bolted to it. 

Cylinder head: Attached to the top of the block. It seals the area to prevent the loss of gases. Other parts of the engine are fitted to it such as the values and spark plugs.

The camshaft: opens and closes the valves in perfect timing with the rest of the parts.

Spark plug: supplies the spark that ignites the air/fuel combination so that combustion can occur. The spark must be set to occur at the right moment.

The intake and exhaust valves: open at the right time to let in air and fuel and to let out exhaust.

A piston: A cylinder-shaped piece of metal that moves up and down inside the cylinder.

Piston rings: provide a sliding seal between the outer edge of the piston and the inner edge of the cylinder.

The connecting rod: connects the piston to the crankshaft.

The crankshaft: turns the piston's up-and-down motion into a circular motion

Crankcase: the housing in which the crankshaft is placed. It is located below the cylinder block and houses the main bearing in which the crank rotates.

The sump: surrounds the crankshaft. It collects oil that seeps down from the engine and stores the engine oil when it is not circulating. It is also known as the oil pan 
Flywheel: A large and heavy metal wheel that is attached to the back of the crankshaft to level out firing urges. Keeps the crankshaft turning efficiently during the periods when no power is being applied. It also forms a base for the starter ring gear and in manual transmission, for the clutch assembly.

Carburetor:  It is the fuel system component that meters and mixes fuel and air into proper proportions. It also directs this mixer of air and fuel to the intake manifold which then distributes it through channels to each combustion chamber in the engine.
Timing Belt: Is a cogged belt that provides a quiet, flexible connection between the camshaft and crankshaft to keep the engine valves opening and closing in phase with the movement of the engine pistons.

Oil pump: circulates engine oil under pressure to the rotating bearings, the sliding pistons and the camshaft of the engine for lubrication and helps in cooling the engine. 

Intake manifold: Provides the air/fuel mixture to the cylinders.

Exhaust manifold: collects the exhaust gases from multiple cylinders into one pipe known as the exhaust pipe.

Wiring harness: Carries electrical current from the battery to the fuse box and then is distributed to the rest of the components that make the car run

Fuse Panel/Fuse Box: Contains fuses that control components such as the cooling fan, anti lock brake pump, engine control unit and is contained in the engine compartment. helps to prevent fuses from overheating and causing electrical fires.

Oxygen sensor: Monitors air/fuel levels in the engine which its readings affects important engine functions such as timing and air fuel mixture.

MAP Sensor: Used to regulate fuel metering

The engine contains several other sensors that help to regulate speed, Air flow, temperature, fuel ratio, fuel pressure, piston's TDC position and valves.

Engine Layouts


In-line engine (I): Have their cylinders arranged in a row.


V-engine (V): Use two banks of cylinders that are angled away from each other. They get their name because of the V shape that is formed at the bottom where they connect.


Horizontally-opposed engine (H): Similar to the V engine except the two banks are spread out where the tops of the cylinders point in opposite directions. It is also known as a flat or boxer engine.

Common Engine Problems


Engine Diagnostics:

 Any type of manual or electronic calculation used to recognize problems your car may be undergoing. Most vehicles today have computer electronics on the dash that will let you know when the vehicle is experiencing issues.


Common Issues with Engines


Poor lubrication: Vehicles need oil between all moving parts. It helps to reduce friction, seizing of parts, and over heating. Regular oil changes can help fix this issue. 


Failing oil pump: A failing oil pump can cause low oil distribution to parts of the engine especially to parts that are further from the pump.


Oil deposits and debris: Oil and debris build up can cause damage to spark plugs, combustion chambers, bearings, and intake valves.


Inadequate fuel and air compression:


Leaking engine coolant: coolant loss is the most common reason for overheating. If your engine is constantly overheating, then the high temperature could cause major damage that can’t be repaired.


Spark Knock: A type of combustion that is caused by the build-up of too much pressure and heat in the combustion chamber. This causes a knocking noise. If problem persists for a long period of time it can crush rod bearings, crack rings, punch holes in the pistons, pound out piston ring grooves, and even blow a head gasket.


Damaged or Faulty oxygen sensors:  Measures just how much oxygen hasn’t been burned in the exhaust. It will then tell the data system just how much gas is in the gas tank.


Aged spark plugs: A bad or damaged spark plug can prevent proper igniting of the engine and can cause misfiring. This can effect your engine and gas mileage and cause many other problems.

Additional Resources

Engine Diagnosis & Repair Information 

This Is How Your Car's Engine Works 
Internal Combustion Engine Basics 
OBD-II: Engine diagnostic codes 
How Stuff Works: Car Engine Performance section 
Diesel Engine: Compression-Ignition Engine 
What is an OBD-II Trouble Code?