|Air-Fuel Mixture, Alternator, Combustion, Coolant, Exhaust Stroke, Firing Order, Independent Suspension, Lighting, Purpose, Transaxle
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.
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.
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.
Modern car engines are cooled by liquid which circulates through the engine block and cylinder heads absorbing excess heat. This liquid is made up of half water and half antifreeze (commonly, ethylene glycol) which both keeps the water from freezing at low temperatures and raises its boiling point making heat transfer more efficient.
During the exhaust stroke, just before the piston reaches bottom dead center the exhaust valve opens. The resulting gases from combustion are then pushed out through the exhaust valve as the piston travels up the cylinder to top dead center, completing stroke four of the four-stroke piston cycle.
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.
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.
The lighting system consists of interior lights, instrument panel lighting, headlights, and taillights. Like household electrical circuits, the vehicle's lighting system is protected from current spikes by fuses and circuit breakers.
The lubrication system lubricates engine components by putting an oil film between them to reduce friction and smooth engine operation, cools by absorbing heat from engine parts, seals the pistons and cylinders to contain combustion, cleans contaminants, and quiets engine noise.
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.