Tag Archives: Car Engine

What’s Under the Hood of Your Car?

Car Engine
Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

Cars and trucks consist of a vast number of mechanical, electrical, and electronic components, all working in tandem to ensure that the vehicle moves smoothly and safely.

In this article, we will explore the various parts that make up a car and how they work together to power the vehicle.


Aside from electronic vehicles (EVs) which don’t use gas engines, all other vehicles are gas or diesel-powered.  In this article, we will focus on the conventional gas engine that is in the majority of vehicles used in the United States and across most parts of the world at this time.

The engine is the heart of the car, and it is responsible for converting fuel into mechanical energy, meaning that the fuel is ignited and causes a piston to move up, pushing a bar (camshaft) to rotate. The camshaft is connected to the vehicle’s wheels and subsequently, causes the wheels to move.

There are usually six or eight pistons in the engine that are ignited simultaneously and moves the camshaft. The more pistons in the engine, the more power is applied to the camshaft and the faster the car can go. 

 A fuel injector sprays a precise amount of fuel into each cylinder, which mixes with air and ignites when the spark plug generates a spark.



Cross section of a car transmission
Notice the size rations between the different gears. iStock

The transmission is responsible for transmitting the power generated by the engine to the wheels. It contains more parts than the entire car, and of these parts, it is the gears that are the most important component.

The gear ratios, which refer to the size proportions between one gear and another are what allow the vehicle to move at different speeds. The driver can select different gears using the gear selector or shift paddles, which changes the gear ratio and alters the car’s speed.

Besides choosing your desired speed, the transmission contains the standard PRD (Park, Reverse, and Drive) gears that we are all accustomed to.


Drive shaft of car, bearing, wheel bolt and joint of steering rack

This component is another component of the car’s powertrain. It connects the transmission to the wheels and consists of several individual parts, such as the driveshaft, differential, and axles.

The driveshaft transfers the power from the transmission to the differential, which splits the power between the two wheels. The axles then transfer the power from the differential to the wheels, which allows the car to move forward.


Phot of a car breaking system
Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash

The brakes consist of a series of discs or drums that slow down the wheels when the driver presses the brake pedal.

When the brake pedal is pressed, brake fluid is forced into the brake caliper or wheel cylinder, which presses the brake pads or shoes against the brake discs, creating friction that slows down the wheels.


The suspension system is responsible for keeping the car’s wheels in contact with the road and providing a smooth ride. It consists of several components such as the shocks, struts, springs, and control arms. The shocks and struts absorb the impact of bumps and potholes, while the springs support the weight of the car and allow it to absorb energy from uneven surfaces. The control arms connect the suspension to the chassis and allow for smooth movement of the wheels.


The steering system is responsible for controlling the direction of the car. It consists of several components such as the steering wheel, steering column, and steering rack. When the driver turns the steering wheel, it turns the steering column, which rotates the steering rack. The steering rack is connected to the front wheels and turns them in the desired direction.

The electrical system is responsible for providing power to the car’s various electronic components such as the lights, radio, and navigation system. It consists of several components such as the battery, alternator, and wiring harness. The battery provides the initial power to start the car and provides power to the car’s various systems when the engine is not running. The alternator generates electricity when the engine is running and charges the battery.

Finally, the body of the car is responsible for protecting the passengers and providing a comfortable environment. It consists of several components such as the frame, body panels, and interior. The frame provides structural support for the car and protects the passengers in the event of a collision. The body panels provide aerodynamic properties and protect the car from weather and other external elements. The interior provides a comfortable environment for the passengers and includes seats, air conditioning, and entertainment systems.


Automotive vehicles are complex machines consisting of various mechanical, electrical, and electronic components that work in tandem to provide power, safety, and comfort. Understanding the various parts that make up a car is essential for proper maintenance and troubleshooting. 


Here’s Why Your Car Overheats

Before we begin, we need to note that if you have an electric vehicle (EV), this information will not apply, since EVs don’t have radiators and subsequently, cannot overheat, but if you do have a conventional gas car, the information supplied below can be very helpful so that you don’t get stuck with a radiator that overheats.


Woman looking at an overheated car
Photo: iStock

When it comes to nightmares for conventional car owners, engine overheating is probably on your list. If you want to avoid regular car repairs, proper maintenance is necessary, including keeping your vehicle’s radiator in tip-top shape.

However, before you do that, you need to understand why your car’s radiator can overheat. There are many different causes of engine overheating.

The following are the most common causes.

Your Car’s Radiator

Gas engines can get very hot. This is because energy is discharged as the spark plugs ignite causing the pistons to make their repetitive up-and-down motion.

To keep the heat energy from getting out of control, the engine block is constantly being cooled via engine coolant that circulates the engine. The coolant liquid that resides in the radiator helps reduce the heat within the enginean so that it doesn’t overheat.

The radiator is one of the key components of the cooling system that is responsible for keeping your engine cool. It is an enclosed vented chamber containing channels for the fluid (normally water) that transfers heat from one location to another more efficiently than if there were no intermediary medium at all.

Radiators are most commonly used in automobiles with internal combustion engines, but they are also found in other applications such as air conditioning systems, industrial process cooling, and heating systems in homes.

Car Radiator
Car Radiator. Photo: iStock

Low Coolant 

But what if there is no coolant available?

Low or no coolant in the radiator is the leading cause of engine overheating; therefore, it is vitality important that you regularly check your coolant and fill it up if it’s low. Moreover, this is especially important in the summer. 

Poorly Working Electric Fan

Apart from a low coolant level, another thing that often causes engine overheating is a defective electric fan. At times, your fan will burn and will stop working. Therefore, you must regularly check whether the fan motor of your car is working.

Broken Fan Belt

Your car will overheat if its fan belt is broken. Usually, a fan belt is found in older cars, and fixing it is easy. Also, by looking at the engine, you can easily tell whether or not you have a broken fan belt.

Leaky Water Pump

Look beneath the car when you stop it in case your vehicle continues to overheat regardless of what you do. You may have a water leak from the pump if you witness a significant amount of liquid beneath your car.

Check the coolant level in the radiator. If it is low on more than one occasion, it is most likely that you have a leaky water pump. To test this out, make sure your radiator is filled with coolant, and then take the car for a short drive. If your coolant keeps going low then you most likely have a water pump that is not functioning properly. If this is the case go to your repair shop as soon as possible and get it fixed. 

Blocked Radiator

If your car has over 50,000 miles, then there’s a good chance that the radiator is filled with gunk, preventing it from running properly. Solving this problem is easy. All you have to do is flush your radiator. If you flush your car’s radiator once a year, you will prevent it from getting blocked. Best to have your mechanic do this for you.

Thermostat That Does Not Open

At low speeds, thermostats do not need to come into play. However, once you push the accelerator, the thermostat must open to allow more coolant to flow through. If that does not happen then your car is likely to get overheated.

There you have it—why your car overheats. Regardless of what causes it, you must get an overheated engine fixed as soon as possible. 

Going to your local car repair shop is your best bet for doing it right.