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Learning about Cars: How does Gas Work?

February 6, 2016 Hastings and Hastings

As far as most people are concerned, cars might as well be magic. You put the key in the ignition, give it a twist, and the engine roars to life. We all know that gas makes our cars go, but do we know how? Do we know how these metal and plastic machines turn gallons of gas into miles-per-hour? After today we should have a slightly better understanding. Let’s learn about cars with Hastings & Hastings.

Time to Panic

Your car is constantly exploding. Kind of. You have what is called an “internal combustion engine” inside of your car. This is what makes your car go. This is where the magical transformation of gasoline to miles-per-hour occurs. Gasoline is constantly exploding, or “combusting” inside of your engine. Luckily, this is being done in a controlled, carefully designed way. So yes, tiny, minuscule explosions are constantly happening inside of your car, but this is standard operating procedure. You don’t need to panic.

How does this Work?

Pistons inside of cylinders push what is called a crankshaft which is attached to your wheels. The crankshaft rotates, causing the wheels to rotating, causing you to go forward. It is easiest to understand how this works if we break it down into 4 steps.

  1. Intake

The piston moves down in the cylinder. Fuel (gas) and air come into the open space in the cylinder.

  1. Compression

The piston now moves back up into the cylinder. This compresses the fuel and the air, making it highly flammable.

  1. Combustion

Finally, the fun part! When the piston moves up the cylinder it activates a spark plug. BOOM. The fuel and the air explodes with great force. This force causes the piston to rocket down in the cylinder. The piston pushes the crankshaft, rotating it and causing the wheels to turn.

  1. Exhaust

The miniature explosion that just happened creates waste, called exhausted. For the next cycle to begin, the exhaust needs to be disposed of. The next time the piston moves up the cylinder it forces the exhaust out.