Top 5 Ways Today’s Car Engine is Different
A lot has changed in our world over the past fifty years. Technology is among the most obvious of those changes, including the public’s mass consumption of the internet. One thing that has remained relatively unchanged over the years, is the engine that sits under the hood of your car. Sure, there are different options, including all-electric car motors – but the gasoline powered car engine is essentially the same as it was in the Ford Model T.
In every gasoline powered car engine, rotational force is created by the combustion of air, to move a vehicle forward. It’s simple, yet the entire ordeal remains complex. If you need car engine repair in Albany NY most of us know of a few good places to keep our cars running smoothly, and it’s important to understand why their role in the health of our vehicles is so vital.
How Your Car Engine Works
More than likely, you get behind the wheel of your vehicle on a daily basis. You rely on your car to help you perform simple, but important tasks in your everyday life. Driving to and from the office, picking up groceries for your family, bringing the kids to school, or driving yourself to school – your car, truck, or SUV, is imperative to your daily routine. The heart of your car, the engine, needs to be properly cared for, in order for your life to carry on normally.
You get inside your car, turn the key, and expect your vehicle to roar to life. But what if it doesn’t? What happens when your car doesn’t respond to your gesture? It may not happen often, but it can happen. It’s important to know what to do, and even more important to understand why your vehicle isn’t responding. Before we can understand what might be wrong with your car engine, let’s go over the basics of how your car engine works.
- At the turn of your key, air and gasoline are ignited in a cylinder
- A piston, which is located inside of the cylinder, begins to move up and down as a response to the ignition
- Attached to the piston is the vehicle’s crankshaft, which is rotated by the movement of the piston
- The crankshaft sends power to the transmission, which in turn sends power to the wheels of the vehicle, creating forward motion
Four easy steps is all it takes to get you reliably from Point A to Point B. What seems like a relatively uncomplicated process, is actually quite intricate.
The Modern Day Engine: 5 Ways it HAS Changed
The modern car engine, while the same in principle, is different from older car engines in a number of ways. Automotive manufacturers have had to keep up with stricter government regulations, and evolve the engine to comply with those standards. The modern day engine is in most cases smaller than the traditional gasoline engine, and can have more moving parts.
While the basic function and premise of the car engine is unchanged, there are five important distinctions that make the modern day car engine different than older engines. Check them out below.
1. More Power
Insert Tim Allen’s character from Home Improvement here. Grunting, and grinning ear to ear when he hears the above two words together: More. Power. Let’s face it, in our society, we want everything to be more powerful, bigger, better, and the BEST it possibly can be. While some are content with a small, less-powerful car engine, others crave the power that sits underneath the hood of their car.
High performance cars aren’t the only examples when it comes to increased engine power. Even family sedans like the Chevrolet Malibu have grown into more powerful cars over the past few decades. Vehicles are loaded with more equipment, safety features, and amenities than ever before. All of those extras translate directly into weight, and the engine inside of a vehicle needs to compensate with added power.
Going back to the example of the Chevrolet Malibu, check out how it’s standard engine has upped the power ante over the years:
- 1983 Chevy Malibu: 3.8-liter V6 with 110 horsepower
- 2005 Chevy Malibu: 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 144 horsepower
- 2011 Chevy Malibu: 2.4-liter four cylinder engine with 169 horsepower
- 2015 Chevy Malibu: 2.5-liter ECOTEC DOHC four-cylinder engine with 196 horsepower
2. Increased Efficiency
Most people would think that a more powerful engine would translate into less efficiency. The opposite is actually true in the modern day car engine. Implementing new technologies such as Direct Injection systems, turbochargers, and Variable-Valve Timing, car engines are improving overall efficiency by an average of twelve percent. As you saw previously, engines are getting more powerful over the years, which means that their increased efficiency is not negatively impacting power or performance.
Following the same sedan into this category, check out how the Chevy Malibu’s fuel economy changed over just a few short years:
- 2005 Chevy Malibu: 30 MPG Highway
- 2011 Chevy Malibu: 33 MPG Highway
- 2015 Chevy Malibu: 36 MPG Highway
3. Smaller Size
With increased power, and better efficiency, modern day engines are also smaller than older car engines. Car manufacturers have realized that to make a car engine more powerful, it isn’t necessary to make it bigger. Car manufacturers have learned to make an engine work smarter, in order to be more efficient, powerful, and smaller. Modern day V6 engines, have been engineered to in some cases, be more powerful than the larger V8 options. This breakthrough in automotive engineering was a major milestone for the modern day car engine.
We mentioned earlier that car manufacturers figured out a way to make the engine of a car work smarter. It is true, and it is also true that modern day engines are actually working less than older engines.
Older V8 engines worked by firing eight cylinders, for maximum power. The problem was, however, that all eight cylinders were constantly firing – regardless of if the car was sitting at stoplight, or racing down the highway. Modern day engines have technology in place that allows them to work smarter. Cylinders that aren’t being used during certain times, shut down to save power and efficiency. Variable-Valve Timing is another technology that allows a vehicle to work smarter, which also increases efficiency.
5. Advanced Transmissions
In the modern day vehicle, the transmission is just as important as the engine itself. Back in the day, a five-speed transmission was considered to be cutting edge. Today, engines are paired with transmissions that offer up to nine speeds. This larger transmission allows the engine to run more efficiently, and gives passengers a smoother ride.
Some modern day car engines are paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT. These advanced transmissions allow an infinite number of gear ratios, which in turn, send power to the wheels of a vehicle in the most efficient way possible.
Electric and Hybrid
It would be a shame not to mention electric and hybrid engines when discussing the modern day car engine. This major evolution in the way we drive our vehicles is certainly changing the entire automotive industry, and their contribution to the modern day vehicle is unsurpassed.
With stricter government regulations, the demand for increased efficiency, and the trend to “go green,” these engine options are likely to be incorporated into many more models in the next ten years.