How Much Do You Know About Truck Engines?



By: Steven Symes

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

They have eighteen gears... wait, that's the number of wheels, right? Do you think you know more than we do about truck engines? Take this quiz to find out.

Actually, the number of gears a truck has depends on the size. You don't expect your pickup truck to have as many gears as a Kenworth, do you? In fact, although your pickup truck probably has the same number of gears as most other vehicles on the consumer market, a heavy truck in the US may have as many as 18 gears (did we fool you there?). 

There are other differences between your pickup truck and a heavy-duty truck as well. Your pickup truck probably uses regular gasoline, whereas most eighteen wheelers use diesel fuel. And, even more different, some of the heavy trucks used to collect refuse in cities use what is called compressed natural gas.

So, as you may have guessed, there are some distinct differences between truck engines, and you'll need to know it all to ace this quiz. And, if you pass, you'll be able to challenge your friends to do the same.

Let's get started to find out if you know as much as you think you do about truck engines.

Where did the Hemi engine, which is used on several Ram truck models, get its name?

The domed or hemispherical portion of the combustion chambers that are part of the cylinder head is where this engine gets its name. That design is the secret to how the Hemi makes so much power.


The EcoDiesel V-6 engine made the Ram 1500 the only half-ton truck on the market you could get with what?

While Ram certainly was first to market with a diesel option for a half-ton truck, it won't stay that way. Ford has announced it will offer a diesel engine for the F-150.


What do the camshafts do in your truck's engine?

The camshafts in your engine are always spinning. Those uneven lobes on them push the valves open and allow them to close at different points that line up with the combustion cycle stages for the engine.


How often should you change the oil in your truck's engine?

It used to be that you were supposed to change the oil for any vehicle faithfully every 3,000 miles. Today, that's no longer the case, thanks to many innovations, so you need to check the owner's manual or call the dealership to get the manufacturer's recommended change intervals.


Waht is the upgraded engine for the current Toyota Tundra?

Not that long ago, may shoppers considered Toyota trucks to be weak and underpowered. Thanks to engines like this, which packs 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, perceptions about this truck have been shifting.


How do diesel truck engines combust fuel?

Diesel engines are quite a bit different from those that run off gasoline. Instead of a spark from the spark plugs to ignite the fuel and air mix, diesel engines compress the mixture to the point it combusts.


What famous truck engine maker assisted with creating the Cummins L9?

Cummins and Mack pooled resources to create the L9, an engine that packs a serious punch, but doesn't weigh too much. With 1,150 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, this engine boasts the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.


Why do you need to change the oil filter on a truck at the same time you change the oil?

Oil filters really don't cost that much, especially considering that not changing yours out could mean dirty oil running through the engine over and over. The risk of blocked oil passages, metal shavings flowing over the engine parts, etc. is too great for anyone to seriously considering not changing their truck's oil filter at the same time as the oil.


What is detonation in a truck engine?

Detonation is never a good thing. It can result in a violent explosion inside the cylinder, which in turn can damage various components, so you must make major repairs.


The Ecoboost engines available for the Ford F-150 combine which two fuel-saving innovations?

In a quest to provide better fuel economy, per increasing government standards, Ford has created the EcoBoost engines. They're supposed to still provide plenty of thrills and capability, so you can use the truck for all kinds of big jobs.


Why do diesel truck engines in general produce more torque than similar-sized gasoline engines?

Stroke, or the distance the pistons travel to compress the air and fuel mix in the cylinders, is greater in diesel engines. The fuel ignites based on pressure and nothing more, which is why so many people favor trucks that run on diesel, since that longer stroke lends itself to more towing capability.


Which of the following activities doesn't make changing the oil on your car more often necessary?

Not only do those other factors make changing your truck's oil more often necessary, so does traveling in stop-and-go traffic often. These activities place extra strain on your engine, which breaks down the oil's viscosity sooner.


Direct injection in a truck engine refers to what?

An increasing number of truck engines use direct injection. Instead of the fuel mixing with the air in the intake valve, the fuel injectors spray directly into the cylinders, often right before the point of combustion. This design increases efficiency and power.


When using your truck to tow a heavy load up a hill, what do you especially need to watch for with the engine?

When a truck tows or hauls a lot of weight, it puts extra strain on everything, including the engine. As the engine works harder, the cooling system might not be able to keep up, which is when the engine can overheat. You should watch the engine temperature gauge closely when towing or hauling loads uphill.


You check your truck's oil, and it looks milky on the dipstick. What does this mean?

You should always take this condition seriously, since it could be the early indication of a serious problem. When the head gasket blows, coolant can mingle with the oil. You also might notice the truck tailpipe always has a stream of white smoke coming out of it.


What kind of engine did the Dodge Ram SRT-10 have?

From 2004 to 2006, Dodge decided to drop the Viper's V-10 engine into a Dodge Ram. The truck was lowered and had a few other modifications to accommodate so much power, making it a seriously quick ride.


Before installing fresh spark plugs in a gasoline-powered truck engine, which of the following should you do?

Too many people wrongly assume that spark plugs come already with the correct gap. While that may be the case, spark plug manufacturers will make a single plug that can go in a whole variety of engines, so gapping them to match each manufacturer specification would be impossible.


What was the only Wankel-engined pickup truck?

The Mazda Rotary-Engine Pickup was sold from 1974 to 1977, being the only production pickup truck to use a rotary engine. Many enthusiasts seek it out today for the unique nature of this truck.


What is the name of Chevrolet's diesel truck engines?

Quite a few people swear by the Duramax lineup of engines. You can get them on the Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD, as well as the Colorado, making for a pretty unique offering on the market.


For the second generation of the Raptor, Ford downsized the engine. What engine does the truck come with?

Even though Ford dropped a larger engine with two more cylinders, the second generation of the truck boasts greater power and performance with this smaller, turbocharged and direct-injected setup.


What would happen if one of the ignition wire boots on your truck engine were loose?

The rubber boots on the ignition wires are desired to fit snugly over the top of the spark plug wells. Without that seal, your cylinders lose a certain amount of compression, so your engine runs rougher.


Hennessey will modify the current Chevrolet Silverado trucks with which engines?

Hennessey Performance, which is based in Texas, has a history of modifying Chevrolets, along with quite a few other American brands. The most potent package it offers for the Silverado's 6.2-liter V-8 boosts output to 805 horsepower and 812 lb-ft. of torque.


What kind of engine does the Hennessey Velociraptor 6x6 use?

Hennessey decided to keep the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that comes in the Raptor, but boosted output through a variety of upgrades. The truck has over 600 horsepower and over 600 lb.-ft. of torque on tap.


What engine does the 2017 Ram Power Wagon use?

As a modern trail-oriented truck, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon has to pack plenty of brute force. The 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 provides just that with 429 lb.-ft. of torque, plus 410 lb.-ft. of torque.


What engine powers the 2018 Honda Ridgeline?

Not everyone is a fan of the Ridgeline, partly because the V-6 only produces 262 lb.-ft. of torque and 280 horsepower. While it may only be able to tow up to 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive, i-VTEC and variable cylinder management help this truck go light on the gas.


What's unique about the engine the Workhorse W-15?

Some people might call this a purely electric truck, but it really works more like a Chevy Volt, because you can put gas in a tank to power an internal combustion engine, which recharges the batteries. Total range is a claimed 310 miles, while overall fuel economy is 28 mpg highway and 32 mpg city.


If you were to lift the hood on the MegaRaptor, what would you find?

Arizona-based aftermarket tuner F250R loves to take Ford F-250s to new heights. The Megaraptor not only boasts 925 lb.-ft. of torque and 440 horsepower, it also has 46-inch tires, custom fenders, a front fascia similar to the Raptor, and a clam shell hood.


Toyota's Project Portal is experimenting with what fuel for heavy trucks?

Toyota has been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, proponent of hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles. Project Portal is a bold plan to use hydrogen for trucks at the Port of Los Angeles, where quite a few container ships and trucks roll through every day.


The Jeep Mighty FC Concept places the truck's engine where?

This wild concept uses the 3.6-liter V-6 from the Wrangler Rubicon JK, plus the OE transmission. Many enthusiasts clamored for it to be made into a production vehicle, but that never materialized, likely for modern safety regulations.


What's the most common reason for a truck engine not starting?

You should be in tune with the signs that your car battery is going, which mostly includes hard starts. Once you notice that going on, have your battery tested to see if it's still good. If so, you might want to have the alternator and starter checked, then move on to the fuel system.


What does a clanging or thumping sound coming from an engine when it first starts up mean?

Some people will mistake this sound for a thrown or bent rod, when in fact the problem is one or more pistons. Sometimes the engine will lose oil pressure, too. These are things you should never ignore.


Why do some truck engines produce backfires?

When an engine is running rich, it's not combusting all the fuel that enters the cylinders. That fuel can then burn or combust in the exhaust, which is backfiring.


What two types of fuel can the Nissan Titan XD run on?

Nissan offers the Titan XD with either a Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel V-8 or a 5.6-liter V-8 that runs on gas. You get to choose the one that's best suited for your needs and wants.


The more powerful of the two engines available for the 2018 Nissan Frontier is what?

The base engine Nissan offers is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which does help with fuel economy, but only arms the truck with 171 lb.-ft. of torque and 152 horsepower. Upgrading to the larger engine means enjoying 261 horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque.


How much torque does the 2018 Ram 3500 with the Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine produce?

Ram made waves when it revealed the 2018 3500 would pack 930 lb.-ft. of torque, when equipped with the Cummins 6.7-liter V-8. That means the truck can up to 30,000 pounds with a fifth wheel setup, far surpassing competitors.


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