Pistons, Cylinders, Rods and a Crankshaft


 We talk about regular maintenance all the time, but sometimes it’s hard to understand just why this maintenance schedule is so important to keep. Understanding a little about the major parts inside your engine may help.

The cylinder in an engine is just that, a tube. Inside this tube, however, is where all of the magic happens. Everything described below is happening in a tightly sealed tube called the cylinder. Most cars have at least four of them.

Connecting With a Rod

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The connecting rod is connected to the bottom of the piston. The piston is domed and sealed at the top, but the bottom part of the piston is hollow. Inside this upside down cup is a wrist pin, a thick steel pin that connects the piston to the connecting rod and allows the rod to pivot back and forth slightly while still being firmly attached to the underside of the piston. This is important because, as the connecting rods cause the crankshaft to rotate, the point at which they are attached to the crankshaft shift slightly in relation to the center of the piston. This means it needs to wobble back and forth just a bit so that it doesn’t break off the first time you turn the key. The wrist pins are super strong and almost never break. I’ve seen far more destroyed pistons than rods.

Crankshaft, Center of Power

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The explosion that happens in the cylinder causes the piston to be thrust downward toward the inside of the engine. The connecting rod connects the bottom of the piston to a certain point on the crankshaft, transferring the energy of the combustion (the explosion in the cylinder) from an up and down movement of the piston and connecting rod to a rotational movement in the crankshaft. Every time combustion occurs in a cylinder, the crankshaft is rotated a little more. Each piston has its own connecting rod, and each connecting rod is attached to the crankshaft at a different point. Not only are they spaced out along the long crankshaft, but they are attached at different points in the crankshaft’s rotation, as well. This means that a different part of the crankshaft is always being pushed along in the rotation. When this happens thousands of times a minute, you get a powerful engine capable of moving a car down the road. 

*Remember, if you forget to add oil to your engine or change your oil regularly, you run a high risk of seriously damaging the inside of your engine. All of those parts need constant lubrication! 

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