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10 Fun Facts about Car Engines



1) The etymology of the word engine can be traced back to the Old French word for “war machine.” For centuries the word engine was used to describe any device that converted force into motion, such as catapults and battering rams.


2) The engine in your car is most likely an internal combustion heat engine, invented in 1876 by Nicolaus Otto.


3) Horsepower is a unit of measurement created by steam engine inventor James Watts. A human can maintain about .1 horsepower, while a jet engine maintains over 1000.


4) Watts measured horsepower by how much water a horse could raise in a minute at a normal walking pace, which was determined to be 550 pounds by 1 foot in 1 second.


5) The first speed limits were set in Connecticut in 1901 at 12 miles per hour.


6) In the 19th century, the first internal combustion engines used hydrocarbons from coal gas as fuel.


7) Gasoline rose to prominence around the beginning of World War 1. Loading coal into ships proved to be a tactile weakness as it was labor-intensive and time-consuming.


8) Electric cars may seem like the height of modernity, but they have actually existed since the 19th century. In fact, in the US, in 1912, nearly 40% of cars on the road were electric, second in popularity only to steam engines. Gasoline fueled vehicles accounted for only around 20% of cars.


9) Car engine maintenance is determined by miles driven, whereas jet engine maintenance is determined by hours flown.


10) The check engine light first appeared on dashboards in 1996 as part of a federal mandate to reduce vehicle emissions.


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