Do you know what exactly an auto engine piston is and how does it work? Most probably, you know that an automotive piston is the soul of an automotive engine, but what about its functioning?

A piston engine works by expanding a mixture of air and fuel within a cylinder. The process of powering any automotive motor begins with pumping up and down motion of the piston. To push a piston, hot gases expand within the metal cylinder which results in rotating a crankshaft and generating power.

The modern-day piston engines are also known as internal combustion engines because in contrast to the old steam engines these do not need an outside source of hot gases. To better understand the working of an automotive engine piston, we need to first know about the 4 vital cycles that run the piston. But before that, it’s noteworthy here that the movement of the piston is known as a stroke. And it’s the number strokes needed to complete one power cycle which classifies piston engines. Now, let’s quickly move to the 4 stroke combustion cycle of all auto engines.

A piston moves within a metal cylinder through the four strokes of the engine cycle to generate energy. These 4 strokes are- consumption, compression, combustion, and exhaust. The up and down movement within a cylinder, which begins the 4 stroke cycle is central to the functioning of an engine. Below, you’ll find details of each cycle stroke to understand it better.


Consumption Stroke

During the consumption stroke, the piston moves from the highest point of the cylinder to the lowest. The pressure created during this first stroke results in combining gasoline and air into the cylinder after which the consumption valve on the cylinder is closed.

Compression Stroke

Now as the consumption valve is closed, the piston again moves back to the top point of the cylinder. As a result of this, the combination of gasoline and air gets compressed into the combustion chamber of the cylinder head. And this ultimately increases the temperature of the gasoline and air combination significantly.

Energy Stroke

During the third stroke, the spark plug ignites the fuel and air mixture. The compression stroke that moved the piston at the top point of the cylinder had compressed gasoline and air combination which now ignites through a spark plug. During this crucial power stroke, the spark plug produces a spark which explodes the gasoline and air. And this again pushes the piston back down the cylinder shaft.

Exhaust Stroke

Finally, during the last stroke, the outlet valve opens to allow the waste gasoline and air mix from the explosion to escape the engine. After the completion of this stroke, the piston is pushed back to the highest of the cylinder.

This is how a piston works in a standard four-stroke engine and all these four strokes are repeated constantly to power the automotive engine. Besides, the velocity of the automobile depends on the velocity of the cycle of these strokes. Notably, to ensure the proper functioning of a piston and prevent leaking, piston rings are also crucial to aid better motion.

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