The Complete Guide to Car Engine Parts

Many car engine parts contribute to keeping your car running. Significant car engine parts include the engine block, pistons, crankshafts, cylinders, camshafts, combustion chamber, flywheel, and more. Some common problems in your car engine include lack of compression, lack of spark, bad air/fuel mixture, and more. You can take care of your engine by getting regular maintenance.

Compare Quotes Now

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

Full Bio →

Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: Jan 23, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our auto insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different auto insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A Concise Overview

  • Major car engine parts can include the engine block, the pistons, the crankshaft, the cylinders, the camshaft, the combustion chamber, the flywheel, and more
  • Common engine problems include insufficient compression, a lack of spark, bad air/fuel mixture, etcetera
  • You can protect your car engine parts by getting your oil changed regularly, ensuring there’s enough coolant, getting check engine lights inspected, and more

There are many different parts to an engine, making learning about car engine parts and functions difficult and sometimes confusing. However, it is crucial to understand how each element affects your engine and how your vehicle runs.

Having car issues is common, but knowing the basics about how your engine works can help you detect the issue and learn how to solve it. Read more about car engine parts below and how you can prolong the life of your engine. If all else fails, having auto insurance coverage, such as towing insurance, can help in an emergency.

If you need to find auto insurance to protect your car engine, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above to compare auto insurance quotes now.

What are the essential car engine parts?

Car engines are designed with metal cylinders that open and close to combine fuel and a spark that burns internally and then releases exhaust gases. There are many parts involved in this process.

The engine block, usually made of aluminum or iron, contains cylinders, pistons, a crankshaft, and a camshaft. It also has water and oil flow paths that cool and lubricate the engine. All the other parts of the engine are attached to the outside of the engine block.

Pistons transfer the energy created by combustion to the crankshaft, making the vehicle move. Pistons move up and down inside the cylinder, and piston rings — inside the piston — reduce friction and create compression. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons with the connecting rod and turns the piston motions into a rotary movement.

The cylinder head is attached to the engine with cylinder bolts and sealed with the head gasket. It contains many parts, including the valve springs, the valves, the lifters, the pushrods, the rockers, and the camshafts. These parts work together to control the intake and removal of air and exhaust fumes.

The camshaft is typically located in the cylinder heads on modern vehicles. It ensures that the valves open and close at the right time, and it transfers the rotary motion from the crankshaft to an up-and-down motion to control the lifters and move the pushrods, the rockers, and the valves.

A timing belt, or timing chain, synchronizes the crankshaft and camshaft so that the valves open and close on time. In some cases, it also prevents the pistons from hitting the valves. The valves control fuel, air, and exhaust gas flow in the combustion chambers or cylinder head.

The combustion chamber is the where the fuel/air mixture that the pistons have compressed meets the spark plugs and creates energy. The spark plugs ignite the fuel/air mixture by creating an electric spark.

The intake manifold distributes airflow between the cylinders, while the exhaust manifold transfers the exhaust gases from the cylinders to the exhaust pipe. The intake manifold contains an intake valve, and the exhaust manifold has an exhaust valve that helps control the air and exhaust fumes.

A flywheel is used to store rotational energy, which makes the ride more comfortable and prolongs the engine’s life by storing torque (when it’s too high) and releasing torque (when it’s too low) to limit the natural fluctuations created by the engine.

The oil pan retains oil in the engine’s lubrication system, and the oil filter removes debris from the oil to prevent it from causing damage to the engine.

You can always check out various resources online if you want to find out more on how car engines work.

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are common engine problems?

After you begin to learn about car engine parts, you’ll become more aware of all the problems that could occur with your vehicle. There are a few different issues that commonly happen with engines.

The first is a lack of compression in which the air/fuel mixture cannot be compressed properly, leading to problems with combustion. Some issues that could cause a lack of compression include worn piston rings, improperly sealed intake or exhaust valves, or a hole in the cylinder.

Another common problem is a bad air/fuel mixture. This can occur if you are out of gas, causing a lack of fuel in the engine. It can also happen if the air intake is clogged, resulting in insufficient air in the engine. Other parts of the fuel system could also be malfunctioning, which could lead to too much or too little fuel being supplied. Impurities in the gas tank can also cause a bad air/fuel mixture.

Combustion issues can also occur if there is a weak or nonexistent spark. A few different factors can cause a lack of spark. For example, if the spark plug is worn out or the wire leading to it is cut or missing, it will not spark properly. There may also be a problem with the system that sends the spark down the wire. Finally, the timing of the spark may be wrong.

Here are some other common issues that may occur:

  • A cracked engine block that can cause overheating, smoke, or coolant leaks
  • Broken rods, bearings, and pins that can cause ticking sounds, low oil pressure, rattling, and more
  • Valves that don’t open at the appropriate time
  • Lack of oil

It is common to experience minor issues in your engine, but ensuring that all the parts are working correctly and getting them fixed when necessary will guarantee that your engine lasts longer.

How can I take care of my car engine?

To ensure that your engine runs well, there are proactive measures you can take to keep your car running smoothly. First, you should make sure that you change the oil regularly. While recommendations vary, most experts will advise  changing your oil at least every 5,000 miles.

You should also  be sure to keep the cooling system working properly. Ensure that there is enough coolant circulating. Also, make sure that the air filter in your engine is not clogged so that your engine is getting enough air.

Avoid starving your engine of fuel by filling up your gas tank before it gets too low, and always get your car inspected at an auto body shop if a check engine light appears.

In addition, ensure that your car engine is protected by obtaining auto insurance in case of an accident or other damage. Enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below to find an affordable policy today.

Compare Quotes Now

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption