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Motors and More About Cars and Their Parts

The original designs of the automobile were born in Europe at the end of the 19th century thanks to the innovative work of inventors such as Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler. It wasn't until 1908 that Henry Ford released the first Model T vehicle in America. The Model T was built to be both durable and affordable. At this time in the United States, approximately 18,000 paved miles of road existed. To ensure that the Model T could navigate this rough terrain, Ford designed his vehicle to be both strong and lightweight. Henry Ford also made the Model T easy to drive, unlike other vehicles of this era. Mass-production soon followed, and by 1913, the United States had produced about 485,000 cars out of a total of 606,124 cars worldwide. Henry Ford was instrumental in devising a way to mass-produce automobiles thanks to the equipment he designed and created at his automotive plant in Michigan.

Most cars are powered by petroleum, although alternative sources of power such as electricity are gaining momentum. Petroleum fuel contains hydrocarbons, which are molecules that consist of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Combustion involves burning hydrocarbons, which produces energy. In a car engine, this combustion occurs in an enclosed area. This enclosed area enables the capture and containment of the energy to release it precisely where it needs to go for the best mechanical power.

Most engines in automobiles fall into the four-stroke category with spark-ignition internal combustion. Diesel automotive engines do not fall into this category. Four-stroke engines utilize a specific process within the cylinders. This process includes intake, compression, power, and exhaust. In the simplest terms, a piston moves downward on the intake stroke, upward on the compression stroke, back down again on the power stroke, and then up again on the exhaust stroke. To ensure the successful completion of this process, every component must operate in sync with the others.

Automotive engines are categorized by the number of cylinders and the arrangement of the cylinders. Cylinders house pistons, which move inside the cylinder bore. Separate connecting rods connect the pistons to a single crankshaft. Car engines might have up to 12 cylinders, with the cylinders arranged in various configurations. Some engine cylinders are arranged in a row. Engines with this "in-line" configuration typically have three, four, five, or six cylinders. Other arrangements include a "V" arrangement, which places two rows of cylinders in a side-by-side configuration. This "V" configuration generally includes V-6, V-8, V-10, or V-12 engines. Another arrangement features the cylinders in two separate banks, known as "flat" engines. Flat engines are less common, and they typically feature either four or six cylinders.

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