Automotive Information Flash Card Set 121962

Cards 10
Topics Alternator, Cylinders, Firing Order, Ignition Coil, Independent Suspension, Intake Stroke, Oil Viscosity, Shock Absorbers, Springs

Study Guide


Once the engine is running, the alternator provides electrical current to recharge the battery and power the electrical system. The alternator is driven by the engine's crankshaft and produces alternating current (AC) which is then fed through a rectifier bridge to convert it to the direct current (DC) required by the electrical system. A voltage regulator controls the output of the alternator to maintain a consistent voltage (approx. 14.5 volts) in the electrical system regardless of load.


Cylinders act as a guide for the pistons that translate the heat energy of combustion into the mechanical energy necessary to move a vehicle. Piston rings seal the piston to the cylinder to contain combustion gases and also regulate the oil distribution between the piston and cylinder wall. A cylinder head closes in the top of the cylinder forming the combustion chamber which is sealed by a head gasket (head). The head provides space for air and fuel intake valves, exhaust valves, and mounts for spark plugs and fuel injectors.

Firing Order

The stroke cycle of an engine is governed by the crankshaft which serves to regulate the firing order of the cylinders. All cylinders are not on the same stroke at the same time and correct firing order is important to balance engine operation and minimize vibrations. A common firing order for four-cylinder engines is 1-3-4-2 which indicates that cylinders 1 and 3 fire (power stroke)together and cylinders 4 and 2 fire together.

Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is a high-voltage transformer made up of two coils of wire. The primary coil winding is the low-voltage winding and has relatively few turns of heavy wire. The secondary coil winding is the high-voltage winding that surrounds the primary and is made up of thousands of turns of fine wire. Current flows from the battery through the primary coil winding which creates a changing magnetic field inside the secondary coil. This induces a very high-voltage current in the secondary coil which it feeds to the distributor.

Independent Suspension

Most modern cars use an independent suspension system on the front wheels. This setup allows each of the wheels on an axle to move independently in response to road level variations. Independent suspension offers much better handling and stability when compared to a rigid axle suspension at the cost of being structurally weaker and more costly to maintain.

Intake Stroke

The four-stroke piston cycle of internal combustion engines starts with the piston at top of the cylinder head (top dead center or TDC) during the intake stroke. The piston moves downward in the cylinder creating a vacuum that pulls an air-fuel mix into the combustion chamber through the now open intake valve.

Oil Viscosity

The primary component of the lubrication system is engine oil. Engines require oil blends with different thickness (viscosity) and additives depending on their operating conditions. Viscosity is rated using the format XW-XX with the number preceding the W (winter) rating the oil’s viscosity at 0 ℉ (-17.8 ℃) and the XX indicating viscosity at 100 ℃.

Shock Absorbers

Because a compressed spring will ex­tend violently, shock absorbers must be used to dampen the spring’s compression and extension cycles. Struts combine the spring and shock into one unit


Suspension springs are made with wide gap coils of rigid steel cable and both hold the vehicle chassis up off the ground and absorb energy from wheel movement making for a smoother ride.