How a Cylinder Head Works
What is a Cylinder Head and How Does it WorkTo produce power on today’s internal combustion engines, fuel and air must mix at a specific ration and then burn in the engine’s combustion chamber. The combustion chamber consist of a cylinder, piston, and cylinder head. The cylinder head contains several components including an intake and exhaust valve, valve springs, spark plugs, and in many cases, a cam shaft. Additionally, a cylinder head contains several ports for air and fuel to enter the combustion chamber and exhaust to exit the engine, as well as ports for engine coolant to travel through. The cylinder head, in addition to being a major component in the combustion chamber, it completes several functions.
On today’s engines, the cylinder head is bolted to the top of the engine block. An exhaust manifold is bolted to it and an intake manifold. The engine block contains pistons that go up and down. The cylinder head seals the top of the engine block using a head gasket between it and the engine block. Once the seal is made, each piston or cylinder, has its own combustion chamber. To truly understand how the cylinder head works, one must understand the purpose and function of the pistons in the engine.As mentioned, each cylinder has a piston that moves up and down when you turn the engine. When a piston moves in a downward direction, it creates a low pressure area or a vacuum. At this point, an intake valve opens in the cylinder head and allows the piston to suck in a set ratio of fuel and air. Before the piston begins its upward motion, the intake valve closes causing the piston to compress the air and fuel as it reaches the top of its cycle, top dead center (TDC). Right before the piston reaches TDC, a spark plug that is bolted into the cylinder head, sparks. As a result, there is an explosion which forces the piston down. After the cylinder fires, the piston starts its way back up toward the cylinder head at which point an exhaust valve in the cylinder head opens allowing exhaust to exit the cylinder and the cycle starts all over again.
As mentioned, cylinder heads are bolted to the engine block with a gasket between them. The cylinder head has an intake manifold bolted to it as well as an exhaust manifold. Over the years and miles, gaskets between the cylinder head, engine block, intake manifold, and exhaust manifold, can break down and leak. One of the most common problems with the cylinder head or intake manifold gaskets is when they go bad, they can allow coolant to leak into the combustion chamber. When this happens, the consumption of engine coolant will occur as well as poor performance. Additionally, most times one will see white smoke from the exhaust as the engine burns the coolant. Additionally, if the engine is overheated badly, there is a chance of warping the cylinder head which will allow air leaks, coolant leaks, and low engine compression.If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions. Also, gain manufacturer specific instructions and information by clicking - Auto Repair Manual
Related Car Repair Information