What’s Under the Hood?
Racecars like this one have an internal combustion engine. It produces the power that runs the car at high speeds over the track.
Why It Matters
- Besides racecars, most other cars and trucks have internal combustion engines. In the majority of vehicles, the engine is under the hood.
- Did you ever wonder how a car engine works? You probably know that most car engines burn gasoline, but how does that get the wheels to turn? Watch this video animation of an internal combustion engine to see what happens “under the hood:”
Can You Apply It?
Read the short article at the link below to learn more about internal combustion engines. Then answer the questions that follow.
- Most car engines operate on a four-stroke cycle. What is the name of each stroke?
- Outline what happens during each stroke of the four-stroke engine. Indicate whether the valves are open or closed, and describe what the piston does during each stroke.
- Why does the heat of combustion push the piston down the cylinder in stroke 3? (Hint: One of the gas laws explains why.)
- The piston moves up and down in a straight line, but the wheels turn in a circle. How does the movement of the piston cause the wheels to turn?