How Car Engines Work: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Binish Shingari

Binish has internship field work experience in classroom guidance lessons as a Professional School Counselor and has a Master's of Education in School Counseling.

A car is very helpful because it provides transportation. A car's engine helps the car do its job. In this lesson, you'll learn about what a car engine is and how it works.

What Is an Engine?

A car provides transportation

Have you ever wondered how a car takes you from one place to another? You might sit in a car to be driven to school, the park, or even your friend's house. Every car has an engine under the hood. An engine is a machine that uses many different parts to convert fuel into energy, or power. An engine creates enough power to make the car move.

An engine is a machine that converts fuel into energy

How Does an Engine Work?

Just like how our stomachs need food to keep us alive, most car engines need gasoline to turn on and work. If we were to look inside a car's engine, we would see cylinder shapes. Each one of these cylinders has many parts to it, such as pistons and spark plugs, to name a couple.

The piston's function is to move up and down. By making this motion, the piston is able to drag a mixture of gasoline and air into the cylinder and then push it back up toward the spark plug.

The spark plug's function is to burn the mixture of gasoline and air when it reaches the spark plug. The burning causes the mixture to expand and push back down on the piston. When the spark plug expands the mixture and pushes down on the piston, the piston pushes back up again and sends the mixture out of the cylinder and into the engine. This process creates energy, which the engine uses to power the car.

Cylinder with spark plugs (top) and piston (middle)
Cylinder

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