There are two types of valves on a vehicle; intake valves and exhaust valves. The intake valves control the amount of air/fuel mixture allowed into the combustion chamber. After a set amount of air and fuel has been put into the combustion chamber, the valve will close. This mixture is then compressed and ignited by the spark plug to produce combustion. The spent mixture is then sent out of the cylinder through the exhaust valve. This process is repeated time and time again which keeps the combustion process going.
The number of intake and exhaust valves on a cylinder varies depending on the make, model, and size of the engine. Every cylinder must have at least one intake valve and one exhaust valve for the combustion process to function properly. Engines that utilize multiple valves in each cylinder can allow for the spark plug to be placed in the center of the cylinder. Having the spark plug in this position will create a more evenly distributed flame which will ensure that all portions of the cylinder are igniting. This will ensure that the engine is running more efficiently while producing more power. Engines that have multiple valves are also capable of higher RMP’s, which means that they are able to produce more power. A vehicle with multiple valves will also have an increase in the mixture allowed to flow in and out. More air entering the engine through extra valves can give the same effect that a supercharger or turbocharger gives.
To withstand the extreme environment inside the engine, the valves have to be made out of a very strong material. The most common material used to make valves is forged alloy steel. The gasses coming out of the cylinder can be as hot as 1300 degrees Fahrenheit which is why such a strong material needs to be used. Valves are also subject to mechanical loads from the springs and actuating gear. These loads that are focused on the valves are some of the heaviest out of all the components in an engine.
Valve failure is usually caused by either a fracture on the valve or from corrosion. This corrosion is normally caused by condensation containing acid products from the combustion process. To help prevent corrosion, the valves can be coated with things such as nickel, manganese, cobalt, chromium, silicon, molybdenum, tungsten, or titanium.
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