Introduction

As a driver, you fill up the car’s tank and travel from point A to point B.

This fuel goes up to the engine, where it combusts, converting the fuel’s chemical energy into mechanical energy, moving the car forward. An engine is considered the backbone of a car, without which a car cannot move.
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Different terms such as ‘2.5L incline four’ or ‘1000CC turbo charged’ denote the type of engine along with its specifications. Although, a driver can only remember some 200-300 components of the engine (5). Yet, he can remember some important components that must be maintained regularly for seamless engine performance. So, we have shortlisted top engine components and their function and importance.

Important Engine Components and their Function

1. Engine block

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The engine block is an important engine part, usually made of aluminum. There are certain holes in the engine block so that the fuel and engine oil can be supplied to all the parts of the engine.
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Thus, the proper fuel and engine oil supply helps maintain the lubrication of the motor parts attached to this block (1). It helps in preventing the corrosion of the parts. All the pistons and crankshafts are connected in the engine block, and movement occurs due to fuel combustion. Due to the movement of the pistons, the crankshaft helps rotate the wheels in a particular direction. Moreover, the most important function of the engine block is to release the excessive heat produced during the friction process into the atmosphere. Thus, the engine block’s main role is to support all the engine parts.

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2. Piston

A piston is a cylindrical apparatus that has a flat top. It is considered one of the most important engines that helps transform heat energy into mechanical energy in the combustion cycle.

The piston moves upward and downward in the cylinder to expand and contract the air-fuel mixture. The pistons are further attached to the crankshaft that rotates to move the pistons upwards and downwards.
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Pistons in modern automobile models travel twice during each rotation of the crankshaft. A piston ring is another essential component of the piston that plays a vital role in reducing friction due to the constant rubbing of the cylinder. At normal RPM, say 2000 RPM, the piston will travel upwards and downwards around 4,000 times in a minute (1). This illustrates the importance and sturdiness of this particular engine part.

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3. Piston Ring

A piston ring is an essential engine part connected to the piston prest in the combustion chamber. This ring creates a barrier between the piston and the cylinder. These barriers stop the pressurized gases in the chamber from entering the oil sump.
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Also, this ring does not allow excessive fuel to enter the combustion chamber and improves the engine’s efficiency (2). The main role of the piston ring is to balance the amount of oil between the cylinder wall and the piston. Thus, this part plays a vital role in overall maintaining the temperature of the piston. When the fuel is burnt, the engine’s temperature becomes more than 300 degrees, so this part helps release the heat from the engine and protects the engine from damage.

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4. Cylinder Head

The cylinder head is at the top of the cylinder and is connected to the upper end of the cylinder block. The cylinder head contains the combustion chamber and spark plugs.

The cylinder head plays an important role as there is a passage in the cylinder head that helps eliminate the exhaust gases from the engine. The cylinder head is made of aluminum because of its best thermal conductivity.
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It is an essential part of the engine as it supports its various components, such as the inlet and outlet valves, camshafts, and sparkplugs (1). Moreover, it provides the flow for the lubricant and engine oil. This helps in speeding up the combustion process. Besides, the cylinder head prevents engine failure by absorbing excessive heat it behaves. The most important role is to reduce the compression produced in the engine due to the combustion process.

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5. Crankshaft

The crankshaft can also be called the backbone of an internal combustion engine.

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It is located at the lower side of the engine block and is connected with the pistons via connecting roads. Thus, the crankshaft rotates to produce a reciprocal motion of the pistons at the desired engine RPM.

The crankshaft also rests on the bearings to balance the pistons and connecting rods. It is to be noted that the crankshaft experiences a high level of cyclic loading, so it must have high strength and wear-to resistance (2). This enables a crankshaft to render long service life. Ductile iron, titanium, forged steel, and aluminum alloys are common materials used to manufacture crankshafts.

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6. Camshaft

A camshaft is an essential part of the engine that helps speed up combustion.

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The camshaft valves open and close at the required timings, allowing the limiting fuel to enter the combustion chamber. Thus, it helps in maintaining the air-to-fuel ratio in the engine.

The most interesting fact is that the number of camshafts in the engine can differ. This is because the number of camshafts depends upon the cylinder’s functioning and arrangement (1). Moreover, the camshaft is attached to the crankshaft to control the valves’ timings and the pistons’ movement. Thus, the major use of the camshaft is to control the opening and closing of the valves for fuel intake during the combustion process.

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7. Cam

Cam is a part present in the camshaft, and its purpose is to allow the air and fuel mixture to enter or leave the combustion chamber. Cam consists of the valves that are opened according to the timings (4).

The cam part also helps change the parts’ rotatory motion into linear motion. Thus, it helps the engine perform effectively and speed up combustion.
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8. Connecting Road

Connecting rod is an important part of the engine that connects the crankshaft and piston head. So, it plays a major role in converting the crankshaft’s rotation into the piston’s reciprocal motion (4). Like a crankshaft, a connecting rod must also transmit high compressive and tensile forces. Therefore, it is also made up of high-strength materials such as cast steel, forged steel, or fabricated steel.

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9. Engine Valve

Engine valves are useful parts of the engine as it helps maintain the flow of air, fuel, and gases in the cylinder to speed up the combustion process.

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The main purpose of the engine valves is to allow or restrict the fuel flow in the combustion chamber, i.e., it opens at the exact timings and immediately shuts down when the fuel requirement is fulfilled.

Thus, it helps maintain the balance between the air and fuel so the spark can be ignited and helps maintain the engine’s performance. The engine valves also communicate with other engine components, such as the rocker’s arms, so that the valves may open and close at the exact time. The engine valves’ functioning is much easier, i.e., the engine valves operate under the force action of the springs. Thus, this component is essential as it manages the flow of lubricants and oil and does not exceed the fuel in the engine.

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10. Timing Belt

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The inlet and exhaust valves must open optimally for optimized engine operation. Else the OBDII module detects a malfunction and sends an engine fault code to the vehicle’s ECU.

A timing belt/timing chain is used to streamline the valve opening and closing. This component synchronizes the operation of the camshaft and crankshaft. With a synchronized operation, the inlet and exhaust valves open and close at proper times during each intake and exhaust stroke. Usually, a roller chain belt also plays a crucial role in preventing the pistons from touching the valves. The automakers manufacture this chain with heavy-duty rubber and cast iron gears that help it grip the pulleys from the crankshaft and camshaft.

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11. Combustion Chamber

The combustion chamber is the most important part of the cylinder.

It is a part where the fuel and air mix together to ignite the spark. The fuel and the air in the combustion chamber are burnt at constant pressure and temperature and form energy.
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This produced energy helps provide force to other mechanical parts of the engine, and thus the vehicle moves (2). The combustion chamber is a very valuable part as it provides a particular place for the ignition of the fuel and air. Moreover, certain inlet and outlet valves let the incoming air and fuel into the chamber, and the waste products and harmful gases are eliminated from the combustion chamber through the help of the outlet valves. The pressure generated in the combustion chamber helps move the piston. Thus, the process performed in the combustion chamber results in the vehicle’s movement.

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12. Oil Filter

The oil filter is the most vital part of the engine as it helps eliminate dirt and debris from the fuel.

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Without this part, the fuel will enter the engine without being filtered, and parts of the engine will be clogged due to dirt and debris. So, the oil filter parts help clean the fuel, and the engine can run smoothly due to the proper lubrication.

The engine oil may become thick due to the soot. Hence, the oil filter contains certain holes that do not permit the thick oil to enter the engine (1). Also, the oil filter helps the engine parts, such as the camshaft, connecting rods, and valves, from getting damaged and blocked. Thus, it is a good part as it promotes the healthy performance of the engine through the proper lubrication process.

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13. Oil Pan

It is a well-known fact that an engine requires constant lubrication, given the fast-paced movement of different components. So, an oil pan is attached at the bottom of the engine with rivets/bolts. This oil pan acts as an oil reservoir that gets pumped to different engine parts for lubrication (2). The oil helps the engine lubricate, self-clean, and cool down the fast-moving components. The automakers also attach a gasket between the engine and the oil pan to help attach metal parts.

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14. Head Gasket

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A head gasket is an important part of the engine as it seals the engine blocks and cylinders. This helps prevent the loss of engine fluid and helps in generating the required amount of pressure in an engine system.

The head gasket plays a vital part in sealing the internal combustion chamber. This helps produce the pistons’ maximum compression and the required power generated. This helps maintain the health of the engine. Also, it does not prevent the oil and coolant fluids from leaking and saves the engine from excessive heating (5). Therefore, this part plays an essential role in improving the efficiency of the engine and protecting the engine from serious damage.

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15. Exhaust Manifold

The exhaust manifold is also considered an essential part of the engine system. This is because it plays a very beneficial role in maintaining the engine’s health.

The exhaust manifold is a part of the engine usually made of steel. It is connected to all the cylinders in the engine. The main purpose of this part is to gather the exhaust gases from all the cylinders and then push these gases toward the exhaust pipe.
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This exhaust manifold is very important for maintaining the engine’s performance as it removes all the dirt, fumes, and harmful gases from the engine on time (3). Also, it helps in improving fuel efficiency. Furthermore, the most important role of the exhaust manifold is that it quiets down the sound generated during the explosions in the combustion chamber (1). Besides, it contains a system that converts the nature of the gases, i.e., from toxic to less harmful, before releasing them into the environment. So, this part helps maintain an engine’s health and control pollution.

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16. Intake Manifold

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An intake manifold is another important automotive engine part with important components such as the throttle valve and other body components. The design specifications of an intake manifold can change depending on the engine type.
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For example, in V6 or V8 engines, the intake manifold can comprise several parts/sections. The main function of an intake manifold is to distribute air to different engine components (2). First, this intake air can flow through filters, snorkel, and throttle bodies, followed by intake manifold plenum and cylinders. Finally, the throttle body inside the manifold controls the engine RPM by maintaining the airflow.

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17. Sparkplug

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A spark plug is a virtual device connected to the internal combustion engine by passing through the cylinder head. Two electrodes have an air gap in the spark plugs.

These spark plugs carry a high amount of current and release it in the combustion chamber. This current plays a vital role in generating the spark. As a result, this ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber (1). The spark plug is very useful as it ignites the fuel and removes excess heat from the combustion chamber. Thus, these parts also help maintain the engine’s temperature and improve its performance.

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18. Inlet and Exhaust Valves

Inlet and exhaust valves control the air entering and exiting the engine cylinder. Air is necessary for the combustion process, and the inlet valve opens according to the directions of ECU at the right time to allow the right amount of air to enter the engine. These valves have a mushroom-shaped head and are mostly placed on the cylinder heads. However, in some engines, these valves can also be on the cylinder wall (3).

It is to be noted that there is a difference between the role of inlet valves in petrol and diesel engine. In a petrol engine, the inlet valve allows the air-fuel mixture to enter the engine. In contrast, only air enters through the inlet valve in a diesel engine.
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The role of the exhaust valve in both engine types is the same: letting the exhaust gases out. According to their function, these valves are further connected to intake and exhaust manifolds.

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19. Flywheel

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The torque produced by the engine is non-uniform and fluctuates. And suppose this torque is provided to the vehicle. In that case, it will move with a fluctuating power causing discomfort to the rider. Further, it will also impact the health of different components such as suspension, transmission, etc.

To resolve this issue, the engineers developed a flywheel mechanical device (4). The flywheel stores rotational energy and provides uniform energy to the vehicle. A flywheel is generally located on the camshaft and stores high-power torque. The flywheel is also known as the torque buffer of the vehicle that stores torque when it’s high and releases this torque when it’s low to provide a smooth driving experience.

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20. Cylinder Liner

A cylinder liner might seem unimportant, given its name. Still, it has an important role to play within the cylinder. A liner is a thin-metal cylinder-shaped part fitted into the engine block.
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It forms the lining of the cylinder that retains the lubricant for seamless piston sliding within the cylinder (4). The cylinder walls are subjected to wear and tear from rubbing the piston rings and skirts against them. The cylinder lining also has a thin oil film coated against the cylinders that minimize the friction against the cylinder wall during sliding. Generally, cylinder lining is made up of cast iron, which gives it excellent sliding properties. In some vehicle models, it can also be made up of alloys of iron, chromium, nickel, and other elements.

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21. Engine Distributor

As discussed, the sparkplugs need to be fired in the correct order and time for optimized engine performance. This function is performed by the engine distributor, an enclosed rotating shaft used to time the spark ignition. The main function of this distributor is to route the voltage/current from the ignition coil to the sparkplugs in the correct firing order.

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The function of the engine distributor is now being replaced by magneto systems and computer systems that use crank positioning sensors to control the ignition’s primary coil.
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22. Distributor O-Ring

Distributors in the engine are O-shaped, usually made up of rubber. These distributor o rings are essential as they prevent the cylinder misfire and the leakage in the engine. The distributor rings are fitted on the shaft and seal the distributor shaft to the manifolds. Thus, the sealing of the distributor ring prevents oil leakage. The distributor o ring is an essential part of the ignition system. It also plays an essential role in supplying the voltages to the spark plug. Thus, the ignition of the fuel on time will help maintain the engine’s performance. So, it is necessary to keep the distributor in perfect shape so that fuel and engine oil can be stored in the combustion chamber and ignition of fuel can take place on time.

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23. Rubber Grommets

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Rubber grommets are important in the engine system as they cover all its holes. Thus, these tiny parts help reduce the engine’s vibrations and noise.

The rubber grommet will help prevent damage to the engine parts’ sharp edges and not let the engine valve let in the holes. In addition, these rubber grommets are useful to protect the wires from getting damaged. These grommets are wrapped around the wire passing through the holes of the engine. Moreover, the resistance of the rubber grommet is high, so it helps protect the engine parts from getting damaged. Also, these grommets protect the engine parts from the effect of exhaust gases and fumes such as nitric and sulphuric acids. Thus, the rubber grommet prevents the engine from rusting.

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24. Crankcase

The crankcase is the most important part of the engine as it protects all the engine parts by connecting all the parts. It protects the engine parts from damage and does not allow dirt and germs to enter the engine. Thus, the main purpose of this part is to protect all the parts and connecting rods from getting damaged. There are two types of stroke engines. In simple two-stroke engines, the crankcase is very important as it helps in generating the pressure in the combustion chamber so that the mixture of air and fuel ignites properly (3).

On the other hand, the four-stroke engine crankcase behaves differently. An oil sump is present at the lower area of the crankcase and stores the engine oil in it. The mixture of air and fuel does not enter the four-stroke engine crankcase. Still, there are chances that a minimum amount of exhaust gases sometimes enter the crankcase through the combustion chamber. This part is the most effective part of the engine as it saves the engine parts and connecting rods from dirt and rusting. The crankcase prolongs the life of the engine.

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25. Cylinder Headcover

Cylinder head cover or cylinder house is an upper element of the engine that prevents foreign objects and dirt from entering the engine.
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It is also an upper actuation element of the engine and valves in the crankcase ventilation. The cylinder head cover provides a closed space for internal combustion, where the oil droplets and blow-by-gases do not escape the cylinder.

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26. Camshaft Pulley

A camshaft pulley is an important part of the timing system in the engine. This pulley acts to control the rate of rotation of the camshaft. Further, it controls the poppet valve to intake and exhaust the air in the intake and exhaust valves.

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A damaged camshaft pulley can cause the camshaft timing to go bad, resulting in a misfiring engine.

The camshaft pulley is such an important component that a broken pulley can even result in a broken camshaft. It is because a broken pulley would be unable to control the camshaft timing resulting in a collision of the pulley with other rotating components. So, it is important to tighten the pulley and install it in a service center to avoid camshaft failure.

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27. Timing Belt Drive Pulley

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A timing belt pulley is another specialized pulley like a camshaft. Still, it has pockets outside the pulley body’s diameter. This increases the slip-resistant properties of the pulleys and lowers the belt tension required to maintain the rotation.
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Reduced belt tension will require less lubrication and will minimize the bearing load on each shaft element. The interesting fact about this pulley is that it is not used for power transmission. Rather, it is used for averting misalignment and assists the belt in timing the camshaft movement.

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28. Oil Pan Bolt

This is an important bolt located below the engine. This bolt is used to contain engine oil inside the oil pan. And when the driver needs to replace the engine oil at service maintenance, the bolt can be removed easily. If the oil pan leaks even after tightening the bolt, your engine might require gasket replacement (3). In some cases of cross-threaded oil pan and bolt, you might avoid replacement of the oil pan.

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Importance Level of the Engine Components and their Repair Cost

The following table illustrates the importance level of these engine components and their repair cost:

Engine PartsImportanceRepairing Cost
Engine blockReleases the excessive heat produced during the friction process into the atmosphere$1,000 to $4,000
PistonIt helps in transforming heat energy into mechanical energy in the combustion cycle$1,000 to $5,000
Cylinder HeadIt helps eliminate the exhaust gases from the engine$1,000 to $2,000
Crank ShaftIt produces a reciprocal motion of the pistons$150 to $250
CamshaftIt helps maintain the air-to-fuel ratio in the engine$1384 to $1614
Timing beltA timing belt is used to streamline the valve opening and closing$300 to $500
Engine ValvesIt allows or restricts the flow of the fuel in the combustion chamber$900 to $2000
Oil Panoil pan acts as an oil reservoir pumped to different engine parts$400 to $600
Combustion chamberIt is a part where both the fuel and air mix together to ignite the spark$500 to $1,000
Intake manifoldIt distributes air to all the engine parts$300
Exhaust manifoldThe main purpose of this part is to gather the exhaust gases from all the cylinders and then push these gases toward the exhaust pipe$220 to $330
Intake and Exhaust valvesIt controls the air entering and exiting the engine cylinder respectively$1,000 to $2,500
Spark PlugsThis helps in generating the spark, and as a result, this ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber$66 to $250
Connecting RodIt connects the crankshaft and piston head$2500
Piston RingThis ring does not allow excessive fuel to enter the combustion chamber$75 to $3,500
Gudgeon pinIt links the connecting rod to the piston$30 to $150
CamIt allows the air and fuel mixture to enter or leave the combustion chamber$1,500 to $3,000
FlywheelsThe flywheel stores rotational energy and provides uniform energy to the vehicle$550 to$1,000
Head gasketIt seals the internal combustion chamber$1,000 to $2,000
Cylinder LinerIt forms the lining of the cylinder that retains the lubricant for the seamless sliding of the piston within the cylinder$180 to $330
Crank CaseIt protects the engine parts from damage$76 to $92
DistributorIt encloses a rotating shaft used in timing the spark ignition$467 to $699
Distributor o ringThey prevent the cylinder misfire and leakage in the engine$50 to $160
Cylinder head coverIt provides a passage present in the cylinder head that helps eliminate the exhaust gases from the engine$15 to $210
Rubber grommetIt helps in reducing the vibrations and noise in the engine$10
Camshaft pulleyIt controls the rate of rotation of the camshaft$700 to$3000
Oil filterIt helps eliminate dirt and debris from the fuel$150 to $700
Water pumpIt helps in cooling the engine parts$310 to $730
Timing belt drive pulleyIt helps generate the force of friction that helps in rotating the gears$500 to $2000
Oil pan drain boltIt stores the engine oil$40 to $150

Conclusion

To conclude, the engine is the backbone of a vehicle comprising complex parts. More than 200 important parts of an engine are explained above, out of which 28 are the most important parts. Therefore, we can classify the engine into three main parts: the cylinder head, the block, and the oil sump. And these important 28 components also lie in these three main classes.

FAQs

The engine components can be divided into three parts, including 1) cylinder head, 2) cylinder block, and 3) oil sump. The cylinder head is the channel through which fuel enters the engine and exhaust gases exit. The key components in the cylinder head can be valves, camshafts, cams, sparkplugs, etc. The cylinder block comprises the combustion chamber, crankshaft, and piston. At the same time, the oil sump comprises of oil pan and filter.

It depends upon the engine type and its specifications. But mostly, an engine has around 200-300 components that function in the cylinder head, block, and oil sump. In addition, these engine components are interconnected to support the engine’s operation.

You can consult your vehicle’s instruction manual to analyze the engine’s service requirements. Generally, an engine requires service after covering 3000-5000 miles. However, in some rugged engines, this range can also be extended to 10,000 miles. So, it is better to consult the vehicle’s instruction manual to determine the engine’s service duration.

Reference