Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

Do you know how your car works? I feel like I have a strong understanding but there's always more to learn. Here are ten great GIFs found by Jalopnik readers the explain the marvels of the modern automobile.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Diesels didn't make this cut, but if you really want to know (and why wouldn't you?), there's a great gif explainer right here.

Photo Credit: Red Bull


10.) Four-stroke Petrol Engine

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

Take a close look, because this is most likely what happens under your hood as well. Gas engines use spark plugs for ignition, while diesel self-ignites thanks to high compression.

Suggested By: philiphilip


9.) Inline engine

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

While car makers are switching to the V-configuration mostly due to packaging reasons, looking at this inline-six engine, you can't help yourself fantasizing about a BMW E46 M3.

Suggested By: 6cyl


8.) V Engine

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

A V engine (this is just a two cylinder, like in a Morgan Three Wheeler) is more compact and just about every larger car in the world uses this layout. Furious.

Suggested By: GR1M RACER : Wrong Most of the Time


7.) Flat Engine

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

Very few manufacturers still stick with flat engines, but Porsche is one of them. The Porsche 911 Turbo has this baby in the back. Flat engines are great because they can sit lower thus lowering the center of gravity for better handling.

Suggested By: MattyF


6.) VTEC

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

This is variable valve timing, so that the engine can change character for more efficiency across a wider range of RPM. This is how it kicks in, yo. If you don't get it, please don't buy a Honda.

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5.) Turbocharger

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

This is how you can use the exhaust gases to force more air into the cylinders.

Suggested By: Máté Petrány


4.) Differential

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

There are a number of great videos explaining just how diffs keep your wheels from spinning all the time (this is my favorite), but this Lego gif gives you a good idea in itself. When it comes to how much torque goes where, this baby is responsible for the portions.

Suggested By: Joe_Limon


3.) CVT Transmission

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

Many new cars are giving up on traditional automatics for continuously variable transmissions, that use cones and bands to work like an infinite set of gears. In early DAFs, you could go just as fast backwards as forwards. That's hardly why the CVT was invented, but that's how it works.

Suggested By: Eric Siedlecki


2.) Dual-clutch Transmission

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

Even more techy than the CVT is the double clutch gearbox. You have two clutches, meaning that while in gear, the next one is already pre-selected so you shift as fast as Alonso. Smart but heavy.

Suggested By: manifold engines, wanting for time


1.) Drivers

Ten GIFs That Explain How A Car Works

And this is how you feel when it all comes together.

Suggested By:My X-type is too a real Jaguar