Spark Plugs and Air Filters, Oh My!

Last week we talked about horsepower, pistons and cylinders, but this is hardly the end of the matter. There are plenty of other car terms that people might try to impress you with, so let’s work on disarming them a bit more. Another common term is “dual overhead cams.”

“Dual overhead cams” is a technical term that applies mainly to high performance cars. Remember, when a piston pumps inside its cylinder it sucks in air that mixes with the gasoline. The gas is then ignited to create the energy to move your car. Each cylinder has valves on them that open to let air in and let the exhaust out. Cams are the lobes that press on the valves to control when they open Repair of crankshaft on site  and close. A high performance engine will usually have four valves and one cam per two valves. So a four valve cylinder would have two, or “dual” cams. Overhead refers to the position of the cams. They sit “overhead” of the cylinders. This matters to car lovers because dual overhead cams are much more efficient and add more power and energy then a single cam. For your average car this isn’t really an issue.

So if air and gas mix to create combustion, then there must be something that sparks it right? Enter the spark plug. Sparks plugs are one of those little parts that need to be changed every now and then and you will know it when it needs it because your engine will kick or misfire with the loss or power.

Spark plugs sit at the top of the cylinder. When the piston is in the downward motion it sucks air and gas in, then with the upward pump it pushes it into the spark plug which ignites it. The force of the explosion pushes the piston down, which is also attached to a crankshaft. The crankshaft transfers the energy to a circular motion that will then turn the wheels.

Another common thing that needs replacing is the air filter. While having a dirty air filter isn’t going to hurt your car, it can hinder fuel efficiency and gas mileage. When the pistons suck air into the cylinders the air passes through the air filter. This keeps out dust, dirt, insects or anything else that might clog your engine or mix with the fuel. For the record you should never pay to have somebody change your filter, it is incredibly easy and cheap to do and mechanics make a killing on it.

So next time your friend tries to impress you with some car term you will know what they mean. Better yet, now you can impress them by throwing out your own terms.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *