The purpose of this entry is to help in decoding the auto-speak language that many gearheads use (and I used in my previous post).  If my previous post made you want to go outside and bang your head against a brick wall, then, hopefully this post will chill you out!  My mom says that if she and my sister can understand my posts, then everyone should be able to.  I need to make my posts readable to her and my sister.  I shall refrain from any comments… 


Let’s get started with cylinders and how they work.  Cylinders are similar to holes in the engine block.  Except, they are not exactly like that.  Imagine a bottle inside the engine block.  That bottle (also known as a cylinder) has a fist inside of it that goes up and down (that would be called a piston).  Sitting inside the bottle is a mixture of air and fuel. The piston comes up with a lot of momentum and creates an explosion inside the cylinder.  The cylinder really just holds the piston from going too far up and also keeps the air/ fuel mixture inside it to create the explosion. Cylinders keep the air/fuel mixture contained so the pistons can move the mixture out to the exhaust system and keep your vehicle moving.

More cylinders mean more power and usually worse fuel economy.  A V6 is a six cylinder engine that has all of it’s cylinders in a “V” shape.  You can only have an even amount of cylinders to have a “V” shape of the cylinders.  If you have an odd number of cylinders, say 5, then you must have them in an in-line shape. The benefit of a V shape is that you get more power and torque (to be explained another time!), and usually better fuel economy.


CC stands for cubic centimeters.  You can ask “why not cubic inches?”  Well, you can use cubic inches or litres.  You will be left behind because all the big auto media brands use CC’s.  You use any of those three to measure how much (otherwise known as volume) air and fuel can go through the engine in one complete cycle.  That means that they measure how much air and fuel can go into the cylinders in one complete cycle.    Another word for that is engine displacement. 

I always thought that I would have to drag out Algebra 1 sometime or another.  According to my Algebra 1 book “Volume is a measure of how much space is occupied by a solid figure.  Volume is measured in cubic units.  One such unit is the cubic centimeter.  It is the amount of space occupied by a cube whose length, width, and height are each 1 centimeter.”  That brings up some unpleasant memories for some, but not for me.  I like Algebra 1.


A turbocharger is an add-on power booster that can be bolted onto an engine.  The Turbocharger acts as a small air compressor that compresses the air that goes into the engine.  That means that more air can be added to the engine, it also means that more fuel can go into the cylinder.  That means that the driver is getting more power per explosion inside the cylinder.  The turbo needs a turbine (a turbine is a fan that spins air around inside it until it is compressed) to have all the air pass into the engine.  The turbine spins at 150,000 RPM, about ten times faster than a normal engine.  There is also a waste gate in the exhaust system.  The waste gate lets out all the air that wasn’t compressed.  A turbo can bring the same or better fuel economy to the same engine without the turbo.

Cool turbo trivia: Diesel engines all have turbochargers.  Did you know that a turbine compresses the air in it for just ½ a second and before sending it off to the cylinders?  Did you know that many Formula 1 race teams use two turbochargers on smaller engines to get better fuel economy and more horsepower?  The proof is that McLaren’s Formula 1 team cars get 20 MPG and 1500 horsepower.  That is amazing because a Porsche 911 Turbo street car (I call them big butts!!), only gets 18 MPG. 

I hope that your understanding of the above will elevate you to higher heights of understanding.

One thought on “Geeky Speak

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s