How much do you know about your car's powertrain?

Maria Trimarchi

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Unless it's caused you problems in the past, you're probably only familiar with your car's powertrain because of the powertrain warranty offered by the dealership. The powertrain isn't a part you can order from the service department when something goes wrong, though. It's a series of components working together to get you and your car where you want to go.

What is the job of the differential?

The differential turns the rotational movement from front-to-rear to side-to-side, which makes the wheels turn. Without one, your wheels would jump and skid while cornering because the outside tires travel more distance than those inside.

What do the components of the drivetrain do?

The drivetrain is what delivers the power from the engine to the wheels.

Which is not a type of hybrid vehicle powertrain?

All of these are types of hybrid vehicle powertrains.

All of these are components of a vehicle’s powertrain except ... ?

A vehicle's powertrain includes the engine, the transmission and the drivetrain. But the steering arm is part of the suspension.

What technology replaces the mechanical linkage between the accelerator pedal and throttle with an electric alternative?

The electronic throttle control, ETC system, can replace the mechanical linkage between the accelerator pedal and the throttle. It usually consists of an accelerator pedal module, a throttle valve and a powertrain or engine control module.

Which is not a component of a hybrid-electric powertrain system?

Hybrid-electric powertrain systems include, among a few other components, the vehicle's battery, electric motor and energy storage systems.

What is it a sign of if your car jerks while you're driving?

When a car jerks as its being driven, the odds are good it's engine trouble.

What configuration, which you'll find in the BMW 3 series, isn't good for winter weather conditions?

Vehicles with rear-wheel drive are typically well-balanced, but are known to be sketchy in winter weather conditions.

Which is a benefit of a front-wheel drive vehicle, one of the most common powertrains in modern cars?

Because the engine and transaxle are directly connected in a front-wheel drive system, FWD vehicles typically have more passenger space in the cabin, improved tire grip and greater fuel economy over rear-wheel drive.

What component coordinates the movements of the crankshaft and the camshaft?

A timing belt or chain is what coordinates the crankshaft and the camshaft.

Which of these problems would typically be covered under a car's powertrain warranty?

Typically, all of these would be covered under a powertrain warranty.

All of these are components of a car's valvetrain, except which?

A car's valvetrain includes lifters, pushrods, and rocker arms (and valves, too).

What part of the car's engine is typically covered under the powertrain warranty you got when you purchased the car?

The powertrain includes the engine block as well as all the engine's internal parts.

How should your car's engine be maintained to avoid invalidating the powertrain warranty?

To keep a powertrain warranty valid -- and your engine from ceasing up, regular oil changes are important.

Big picture, the components of the powertrain work together to transform stored energy into what kind of energy?

The powertrain components transform stored (potential) energy into kinetic energy.

Which is not part of the powertrain's drivetrain system?

The drivetrain, part of the vehicle's powertrain, is similar to the powertrain. It includes all the same components as the powertrain except the engine and transmission. It also includes the clutch, in a manual, or the torque converter in an automatic shift -- but not the wheels.

What is a vehicle without a powertrain known as?

An automobile without a powertrain is called a glider.

What could cause a car's transmission to slip?

Transmission slipping, which means the transmission slips in or out of gear while you're driving, can be caused by a few things, including engine trouble and wear-and-tear on the transmission.

What part of your vehicle would not be covered under the powertrain warranty you got when you purchased the car?

Things that have a lot of wear-and-tear, like brake pads, the clutch or CV joints and boots, are not covered under a powertrain warranty.

The more cylinders an engine has, the more of what does it have?

The more cylinders an engine has, the more power that engine has.

Another name for the engine block is what?

The engine block, which houses the pistons, is also known as the cylinder block.

The engine's cylinder head is on top of its cylinders. Which is not attached to it?

All of these are mounted to the cylinder head.

A brand new Toyota Camry has between 178 and 268 horsepower (hp). What is horsepower?

When James Watt wanted to compare the power of horses to the power of steam engines, he came up with this unit of measurement, which specifically measures the rate at which work is performed.

One unit of horsepower (hp) is equal to the power that's needed to lift how many pounds by one foot in one second?

One hp is equal to the power needed to lift 550 pounds by one foot in one second.

The parallel hybrid system, found in Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Civic hybrids, includes both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Which drives the car?

In a parallel hybrid system both the petrol-powered engine and the electric motor can individually, or jointly, drive the car.

Which component in an internal combustion engine signals the transmission when to shift gears?

The crankshaft, which converts reciprocating motion into rotational motion, is what triggers the chain of events to shift gears.

What is the most common symptom of a dry, cracked or broken crankshaft seal?

Leaking engine oil is the most common symptom of a damaged crankshaft seal.

The powertrain control module is considered the what of a modern car engine?

The PCM is considered the brain of a modern car engine.

Which type of vehicle has a transfer case?

Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles are the only ones designed with a transfer case, which sends power to the front or rear differential based on information from the transfer case control module.

When were the popular rear-wheel drive cars replaced with the now-common front-wheel drive alternative?

Until the 1980s, automobiles were commonly rear-wheel drive.

There are two types of piston rings. There's an oil ring on the bottom of each piston, preventing oil from getting into the combustion chamber. What kind of ring is the top ring?

Along with the oil ring, each piston has a compression ring on the top.

In an internal combustion engine you'll find what above each cylinder?

Above each cylinder is a spark plug that causes the explosion that pushes down the piston.

Is a vehicle's' exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system part of the powertrain?

Yes, the EGR is part of the powertrain in vehicles powered by diesel engines.

Adjusting what will give your car better acceleration (or more top speed if that's what you prefer)?

Adjusting the gear in the rear differential, known as the final drive, with a taller fit will increase the vehicle's top speed, while shorter improves acceleration.

The maximum speed an internal combustion engine can operate without being damaged is called what?

All engines have a limit. The maximum speed (rpms) an internal combustion engine can operate without damage is called a "redline."

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