What is a car engine made of?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘What is a car engine made of?’, and cover topics like different parts that make up the car engine, how does every part help the car engine function, and the working of the car engine.

What is a car engine made of?

A car engine cylinder block is often made up of alloys made from grey cast iron or aluminum. It can also be formed by using a cast-iron accompanied by compacted graphite. 

It acts as the main housing for many crucial components like pistons, cylinders, camshafts, valves, etc. 

The crankshaft is usually made from cast iron or cast iron accompanied by spheroid graphite. Other components like connecting rods are made from materials like iron, titanium, aluminum, etc.

Different parts that make up the car engine

The following are the different parts that make up a car engine and help it to meet the optimal performance requirements:

  • Engine block
  • Combustion chamber
  • Cylinder head
  • Crankshaft
  • Camshaft
  • Piston(s)
  • Timing chain
  • Valvetrain
  • Valves
  • Rocker arms
  • Pushrods
  • Fuel injectors
  • Spark plugs

How does every part help the car engine function?

This is how the different parts of a car engine help it to function optimally.

Engine block

The engine block acts as a housing for the pistons, crankshaft, camshaft, and cylinders depending on the vehicle. It is usually made up of aluminum or iron. Helps in creating a passage for water and oil to help cool down the engine and lubricate it.

Combustion chamber

Area of energy conversion during the combustion process. This is where the air-fuel mixture is ignited by the application of electricity from a spark plug and pressure from pistons.

Cylinder head

Its connection to the engine is done via connecting bolts and is sealed using a head gasket. It contains components like valves, pushrods, rocker arms, camshafts, etc.


It is mounted at the base of the engine box and is connected to the pistons via connecting rods. Its main role is to help move the pistons up and down with respect to the operating engine speed.


It is either mounted in the engine block or inside the cylinder head. It is responsible for controlling the timing of valves that need to open for letting in the air during the intake stroke and close for letting exhaust gases out during the exhaust stroke.


They are cylindrical in shape and have a flat head as the top surface. Its primary role is to convert the energy from combustion and transfer it to the crankshaft that helps to propel the car.

Timing chain

They act as the medium of connecting the crankshaft and the camshaft and ensure the engine timing is optimal. Their structure includes a heavy-duty rubber equipped with a set of cogs that grips on the crankshaft and camshaft.


The valvetrain is responsible for controlling the movement of the valves. It also acts as a housing for the valves, pushrods, rocker arms, lift rods, etc., and joins the cylinder head.


They are made up of intake and exhaust valves. The intake valves help the air-fuel mixture to enter the combustion chamber during intake strokes and the exhaust valve helps push out the unwanted gases at the end of the combustion process.

Rocker arms

The rocker arms along with the cams apply pressure on the two valves to either let in the air into the chamber or push out the exhaust gases.


For engines where the camshaft does not come in contact with the rocker arms, pushrods are deployed and are used to operate the valve system.

Fuel injectors

They are responsible for letting in fuel into the combustion chamber to be mixed with air and burned to produce energy.

Spark plugs

They are responsible for providing the spark necessary to burn the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber that helps in producing energy to push the piston down.

How does a car engine work?

These are the following ways how a car engine produces power for a car:

  • The hot combustion gases that are produced at high pressure inside the combustion chambers are used as the driving force for the piston movements which in turn, helps drive the wheels.
  • The combustion cycle starts with the inlet valve permitting the entry of the air-fuel mixture into the cylinder.
  • The piston reacts to this by moving downwards followed by compressing the air-fuel mixture as it moves upwards.
  • The compressed air-fuel mixture is then ignited by the spark plugs.
  • This ignition is done at very high pressure and the impact makes the pistons move downwards to transfer that power to the crankshaft via the connecting rod.
  • As discussed earlier, only the lower end of the connecting rod moves in a circular motion while the upper end stays fixed and restricted to linear motion.
  • The power is then transferred to the crankshaft that further sends it to the car wheels via a transmission system and the driveshafts.

Research shows the various engine parts along with a pictorial representation to understand their roles better.


This blog post addressed the question, ‘What is a car engine made of?’.

We obtained an understanding of the different parts that allow a car engine to run and the ways in which they help do so. Furthermore, we came across the working process of a car engine. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What is a car engine made of?

What are the 3 types of engines?

The 3 types of engines are as follows:

  • Internal combustion engines
  • External combustion engines
  • Reaction engines

What is the strongest engine block material?

While building an engine block, an iron engine block is a more preferred material than an aluminum block as it is stronger and has higher durability compared to an aluminum block. It also produces more power than an aluminum block.

Are engine blocks cast iron?

Engine blocks can be manufactured by using both cast iron and aluminum. An engine block made of aluminum is lighter than an iron block and excels in heat transfer capabilities with respect to the coolant. Although iron blocks boast higher strength and durability, thus produce more power than aluminum engine blocks.