How an Engine Works. 3 -11-13. The 4 Steps of Combustion. Intake. Any time your car is running the crankshaft is turning, and as it turns it pushes and pulls on cranks connecting it to the pistons in the cylinders of the engine.
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The power stroke is where the real action begins. It starts once the volume in the cylinder has reached its minimum point. At that moment, the spark plug in the cylinder fires, and the spark ignites the fuel-air mix, triggering a rapid explosion.
The force of this explosion drives the piston back down the cylinder. The piston pushes on the crank as it descends.