Automotive Information Flash Card Set 785891

Cards 10
Topics Air-Fuel Mixture, Cylinders, Electric Fuel Pump, Half Shaft, Ignition Coil, Intake Stroke, Power Brakes, Powertrain Control Module, Transaxle

Study Guide

Air-Fuel Mixture

The stoichiometric ratio defines the proper ratio of air to fuel necessary so that an engine burns all fuel with no excess air. For gasoline fuel, the stoichiometric ratio is about 14.7:1 or for every one gram of fuel, 14.7 grams of air are required. Too much air results in a lean air-fuel mixture that burns more slowly and hotter while too much fuel results in a rich mixture that burns quicker and cooler.


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.

Electric Fuel Pump

The electric fuel pump feeds pressurized fuel through a fuel filter to the fuel injectors via the fuel rail manifold. The fuel rail contains the fuel pressure regulator which ensures that the fuel injectors receive fuel at a consistent and known rate. Excess fuel bled off by the pressure regulator returns to the fuel tank through the fuel return line.

Half Shaft

A half shaft is a drive axle that extends from a transaxle or differential to one of the drive wheels. There are two half shafts per drive axle, one for each wheel, each doing "half" the job.

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.

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.

Power Brakes

Power brakes multiply the force a driver applies to the brake pedal using a vacuum booster connected to the engine intake manifold. This provides for much higher hydraulic pressure in the braking system than could be generated by the driver alone. Antilock brakes (ABS) use speed sensors and adjust the brake pressure at each wheel to prevent skidding and allow the driver more steering control in slippery conditions.

Powertrain Control Module

The main computer or powertrain control module (PCM) uses pre-programmed software to analyze the input received from sensors and produce output signals to adjust vehicle performance and operation. (Engine control unit (ECU) is another name for the PCM.)


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.