How does an engine work?
Car engines are built around a set of "cooking pots" called cylinders (typically four, six, or eight) inside which the fuel burns. The cylinders are made of super-strong metal and sealed shut, but at one end they open and close like bicycle pumps: they have tight-fitting pistons
(plungers) that can slide up and down inside them.
At the top of each cylinder, there are two valves (essentially "gates" letting things in or out that can be opened and closed very quickly). The inlet valve
allows fuel and air to enter the cylinder from a carburetor or electronic fuel-injector, the outlet valve lets the exhaust gases escape.
At the top of the cylinder, there is also a spark plug, an electrically controlled device that makes a spark to set fire to the fuel. At the bottom of the cylinder, the piston is attached to a constantly turning axle called a crankshaft
. The crankshaft powers the car's gearbox which, in turn, drives the wheels. What is the oil pump for?
During this process the engine gets very hot, and without the constant lubrication enabled by engine oil your engine wouldn’t last very long! Oil pumps
are responsible for making sure oil gets to all the parts of the engine that need lubrication during regular operation. The oil flows from the oil pan
, through the oil pump, and passes through the oil filter
where dirt and debris are stopped before being able to enter the engine. The engine oil’s job is to lubricate the crank shaft, bearings, and cylinders. How do I detect a failing oil pump?
There are several possible signs of a malfunctioning oil pump
. A clanking noise, low oil pressure, or rising engine temperature are the most common signs of an issue. Car owners should keep an eye on the oil pressure and the heat registered; it isn’t always the radiator that causes the overheating! A strange rattling or grinding noise coming from the engine is without a doubt the most important warning sign. It announces that parts no longer have the lubrication needed to keep them from grinding contact. What does the oil filter do?
An oil filter
is a small part of your car’s lubrication system that plays an important role in protecting your engine from premature wear. All the moving parts in the engine need clean oil to properly lubricate them. Tiny bits of metal chip off various engine parts while it’s running. If these bits of metal are allowed to recirculate through the oil, they could break off other bits of metal, which will eventually cause erosion in the engine. A quality oil filter cleans the oil as it passes through the filter and prevents abrasive contaminants from damaging the parts in the engine. If your oil filter is of poor quality, it can shorten the life of your engine and cause other parts to fail. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for the specific interval and oil type to be used when changing your oil. What does the timing belt do?
Without a fully functioning timing belt
, your vehicle would not run. The timing belt is an internal engine component that helps rotate the engine’s camshaft
in sync and ensures each cylinder fires at the appropriate time. The timing belt is located under a timing cover and is in the front of the engine. In many cases the engine water pump must be removed when the timing belt is replaced, so both are often swapped together. When should I change my timing belt?
Common signs that your timing belt
may be becoming worn include a ticking noise coming from the engine, an engine that won't turn over, engine misfires, and oil leaking in front of the motor. If these signs show up at any time, you may need to seek the help of a trained mechanic. Always refer to your owner’s manual for the correct service interval for the timing belt because the engine can be seriously damaged if the belt breaks while the engine is running.