Automotive Information Flash Card Set 706878

Cards 10
Topics Camshaft, Combustion, Control Arms, Exhaust Manifolds, Ignition Coil, Ignition Timing, Oil Viscosity, Transaxle, Transmission, Water Jacket

Study Guide


The camshaft is linked to the crankshaft through a timing belt and regulates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves in each cylinder in time with the motion of the piston. An engine designated OverHead Camshaft (OHC) locates the camshaft in the cylinder head. An engine with Double OverHead Camshaft (DOHC) has two camshafts, one to regulate the intake valves and one to regulate the exhaust valves.


Normal combustion in an engine is initiated by a spark plug and results in the complete burning of the air-fuel mixture. If combustion is initiated by a source other than the spark plug, by a hot spot in the cylinder or combustion chamber for example, pre-ignition results. Detonation results if the air-fuel mixture explodes instead of burning. Detonation can cause extremes in pressure in the combustion chamber leading to engine damage.

Control Arms

Control arms (upper and lower) connect a vehicle's suspension to the frame. The connection to the wheels is through ball joints which allow the control arms to turn and move up and down simultaneously. The frame connection uses bushings.

Exhaust Manifolds

The cast iron exhaust manifolds collect engine exhaust gas from multiple cylinder exhaust valves and deliver it to the exhaust pipe. Exhaust manifolds can be generic or specially tuned (header pipes) to the engine. Header pipes deliver higher performance but are more expensive and less durable.

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.

Ignition Timing

Ignition timing defines the point in time at the end of the compression stroke that the spark plug fires. Measured in number of degrees before top dead center (BTDC), the exact point that the spark plugs initiate combustion varies depending on the speed of the engine. The timing is advanced (the spark plugs fire a few more degrees BTDC) when the engine is running faster and retarded when it's running slower.

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 ℃.


A differential is designed to drive a pair of wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. A transaxle is a transmission that incorporates the differential in one package. Most front-wheel drive cars use a transaxle while rear-wheel drive cars use a transmission and separate differential connected via a drive shaft. The differential is incorporated into the drive axle which splits engine power delivered by the drive shaft between the two drive wheels. All-wheel drive cars typically use a transaxle that includes an output shaft to the rear differential.


The transmission provides the appropriate power to vehicle wheels to maintain a given speed. The engine and the transmission have to be disconnected to shift gears and a manual transmission requires the driver to manually manage this disconnection (using a clutch) and to manually shift gears. An automatic transmission is essentially an automatic gear shifter and handles this process without driver input.

Water Jacket

A water jacket is a coolant-filled casing that allows heat transfer from the engine block and cylinder heads to the liquid coolant.