Does NAPA Pay for Old Batteries? (All You Need To Know)

Does NAPA Pay for Old Batteries

Do you know if NAPA pays for old battery? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

The battery is the main power of every electrical component of your automobile. It is necessary for the proper operation of its electrical system.

Over time automotive batteries can lose power and will need to be replaced. Will NAPA Auto Parts pay you for your old battery? 

You will need to pay a core fee when purchasing an automotive battery from NAPA Auto Parts. When you return your old battery the core fee will be refunded to you. NAPA Auto Parts will send your old battery to be recycled after it is collected from you.   

Below we will discuss the disposal of your old battery with NAPA and what you can expect during the process. 

Replacing your Battery 

When your automotive battery needs to be replaced it is a relatively easy task. Most are contained under the hood of the vehicle and easily accessible.

Your battery can be tested by a NAPA Auto Parts Store associate to determine if they are still in functioning order and holding a charge. For most vehicles, it can be tested at the store without the need to remove it. 

If your battery is found to be defective it can be replaced quickly. It will only take a few hand tools and just over 15 minutes to remove your old battery and replace it with a new one.

Ensure you clean the battery terminals to ensure you are getting a proper connection when you install the new battery. 

Read also >> How Long Does a NAPA Legend Battery Last? (Lifespan)

Read also >> How Long to Leave a Car Running to Charge Battery (Do This)

Replacement Battery and Pricing 

Automotive batteries are not one-size-fits-all. You will need to purchase the correct replacement that fits your vehicle.

NAPA Auto Parts stock many common brands of automotive batteries making it quick and easy to find your replacement battery. You will just need the basic information about your car to find the correct battery in the store. 

Included in the pricing for automotive batteries at NAPA Auto Parts is a core charge. It is a refundable deposit when purchasing an automotive battery as an incentive for you to recycle your old battery. You do not need the old part when you purchase its replacement.

The core charge will be returned to you when you can bring your old part in as an exchange. 

If you can bring the battery to NAPA Auto Parts at the time of replacement you will not have to pay the core fee.

It will be deducted at the time of purchase saving you the trip of returning to your local NAPA Auto Parts to receive the return of your core fee.

Core Fee Restrictions

If you do not have an old battery, you will still be required to pay the core fee when purchasing a new battery.

If you have already purchased a battery or have an older battery that is no longer needed NAPA Auto Parts will take your battery to be recycled but will not return a core fee if you have not purchased a battery at one of their stores. 

Dropping off your used automotive battery at NAPA Auto parts without receiving a return may still be your best option.

Automotive batteries are toxic and may not be and should not be disposed of with your normal trash. They can damage the environment and should be recycled no matter if you will receive a core fee in return. 

Read also >> Can You Leave a Battery Charger Connected? (Is It Safe?)

Read also >> Does Oreillys Buy Old Batteries? (Recycling + More)

Recycling Your Automotive Battery

Over 80% of the components used in newly manufactured automotive batteries come from recycled sources.

California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, and Texas make it mandatory to recycle your automotive batteries. It also helps create jobs and will reduce the materials and energy needed to manufacture new batteries. 

Recycling automotive batteries will prevent corrosive and harmful materials from entering the environment.

The heavy leads and toxins in batteries can seep into the groundwater. Lead contamination can harm groundwater for many years in the future.

Lead poisoning can cause damage to children’s brains and nervous systems. For adults, it can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage. 

When a battery is recycled, each of its components is separated from the other. The plastic is ground down and formed into pellets for use when making new automotive batteries.

The lead is melted, and the impurities are removed. The battery acid is also processed for re-use into batteries or other products.

Automotive Batteries

Automotive batteries are 12-volt lead acid batteries. They have lead plates inside that are submerged in sulfuric acid and water.

They are composed of six cells. Each cell has 2.1 volts and will give the battery 12.6 volts total when fully charged. If your battery does not produce at least 12 volts it will need to be replaced.  

Your battery is an integral component of your automobile’s electrical system. In addition to providing your automobile with the needed electricity to start, it also supplies extra power when it is running.

The main power source when your engine is running is your alternator. Your battery will stabilize your automobile from damage and voltage spikes.

Having a weak or failing battery will not only prevent your automobile from starting, but it can also hinder its electronics while running.

Your battery will need to be kept in top working condition to keep your automobile running at its peak performance. 


NAPA Auto Parts has a program in place for you to return your automotive batteries for recycling.

 They charge a core fee when you purchase a new battery which is refundable when you return your old battery. If you do not have a battery to return, you will still have to pay the core fee.

If you did not purchase your automotive battery from NAPA Auto Parts, they will still accept your battery for recycling, but do not pay you for the battery. 

This may still be the best option to recycle your old battery and keep it from becoming an environmental hazard if it ends in a landfill. The lead found in batteries can contaminate groundwater for years.


How Long Does a NAPA Legend Battery Last? (Lifespan)

How Long Does a NAPA Legend Battery Last

Ask somebody who has used a NAPA battery, and they will likely tell you that they are among some of the best batteries in the world and, in all fairness, they are.

This means that you may be wondering how long NAPA Legend batteries last. Well, the answer may not be as simple as you think. Let’s explain.

The Lifespan Of a NAPA Battery

As we said, it is impossible for us to tell you exactly how long a NAPA Legend battery may last. We wish that we would tell you, but it is all going to be dependent on how you use the battery.

What we can tell you, however, is the fact that the team at NAPA has given the Legend battery a whopping 75-month warranty. This includes 18 months of a free replacement should something go wrong with it.

This tells us that the team at NAPA is 100% confident that their battery, when used under normal circumstances, should last at least 75 months. However, it is likely to last considerably longer than this, should you treat the battery with care.

This means that the NAP battery is expected to last around 6.5 years, although we wouldn’t be surprised if you were able to see 7 or 8 years of use out of it, assuming that you do not treat it poorly.

However, do bear in mind that there will be issues with a NAPA Legend battery after a couple of years. However, this isn’t because of it being a NAPA Legend battery. It is more the tech behind batteries.

The more a battery is used, the less of a charge it can hold. This means that as your NAPA Legend battery starts to come toward the end of its natural lifespan, you may notice that it isn’t holding a charge quite so well (you may need to jump-start the vehicle, for instance).

Read also >> How Long To Charge a Dead Car Battery With Alternator?

Read also >> Does NAPA Pay for Old Batteries? (All You Need To Know)

Although, in most cases, this probably wouldn’t pose too much of a problem. 

In our experience, most vehicle batteries should be replaced around the 5-year mark anyway. It doesn’t matter whether it is a NAPA Legend battery or not. As soon as the battery hits around 5 years, then you should think about replacing it.

They aren’t too expensive to replace every 5 years, and they aren’t tricky to replace either. It will just save you a whole lot of hassle in the long term.

What Can Shorten The Lifespan Of a NAPA Battery?

There isn’t a whole lot that can shorten the lifespan of a NAPA Legend battery. These are regarded as some of the best batteries on the market for a reason.

However, there may be a few things that you should be on the lookout for if you do own one of these batteries.

Read also >> Can You Leave a Battery Charger Connected? (Is It Safe?)

Read also >> How Long to Leave a Car Running to Charge Battery (Do This)

Harsh Climates

While the NAPA battery should still perform in harsher climates, it doesn’t tend to do too well in them. However, this is something that applies to pretty much every single AGM battery (the type of tech the NAPA Legend is built on), so you should probably be aware of this already.

These batteries may struggle a little bit in the extreme cold.

They are also not great if it gets too hot. However, it is the cold that tends to be the biggest issue for a NAPA Legend battery.

Constant Charge and Discharge Cycles

These are batteries that are not designed to be constantly charged and discharged. They are vehicle batteries.

If you let them fully discharge before you charge them again, then not only are you going to be running into some serious issues with your vehicle, but you are essentially going to be killing the battery.

Just let your vehicle charge the battery for you. If your NAPA Legend battery is failing to hold a charge, then this could be an indicator that it is reaching the end of its natural lifespan.

It is rare that you will ever need to pull a battery out of a car and stick it on a charger. It is only really the case if you have left the vehicle running without the engine running as there would be nothing to charge the battery.

How Can You Increase The Lifespan of a NAPA Battery?

Just treat it with care. That is pretty much all there is to it. There is no special trick here. A NAPA Legend battery is a high-quality battery.

As long as you connect it up to your system properly, you don’t need to worry about it. It will serve you well for several years.

The only time that you will probably even need to go near your NAPA battery is if it has lost its entire charge.

You can then charge it up using a battery charger. However, if your battery doesn’t hold a charge after this, then it may be time to replace it.

What Happens If Your NAPA Legend Needs Replacing During The Warranty Period?

The chances of this happening are slim. However, if it does happen, then NAPA will help.

If your battery has died within 18 months of purchase, it is likely going to be a no-questions exchange. They will send you a free one.

If it dies within 75 months, then they may want to check the battery to ensure that it hasn’t died because you treated it poorly.


It is impossible to say how long your NAPA Legend battery will last. It will all be dependent on how you treat the battery and the conditions that you are using the battery in.

However, since you do get a 75-month warranty with NAPA, you can expect it to last around 6.5 years.

However, those people that are putting the battery under a lot of heavy strain may find that the battery lasts around 5 years.

This is normal, and you will not be entitled to a warranty claim if that happens to be the case.


Does Oreillys Buy Old Batteries? (Recycling + More)

Does Oreillys Buy Old Batteries

Do you know what if Oreillys buy old batteries? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

Vehicle batteries are big. They are tough to recycle too. We have noticed that a lot of people who have replaced the car battery in their vehicle have absolutely nowhere to put the battery, or anywhere to take it.

However, if you are living close to an OReillys, then you may be in luck.

Does OReillys Buy Old Car Batteries?

Yes. They do! Well, sort of. We will explain more about that in the next section.

If you have an OReillys near you, then they will certainly take your old car batteries off of your hands. You may even get a little bit of something for your trouble too, although it may not be quite as much as you would expect.

Read also >> Can You Leave a Battery Charger Connected? (Is It Safe?)

Read also >> How Long To Charge a Dead Car Battery With Alternator?

Read also >> Does Autozone Buy Old Batteries? (Recycling + More)

How Much Do You Get For Taking Old Car Batteries To OReillys?

This does seem to be dependent on OReillys. Every so often, they seem to run a promotion where you get more. Although, it generally isn’t worth waiting around for that promotion.

Now, OReillys are not going to give you cash for your old car batteries. Instead, they are going to give you some store credit for your old car batteries.

Most of the time, you will get $5 per car battery that you take to OReillys. However, they have run some promotions where they have bumped this up to $10. However, as we said, this probably isn’t going to be worth it.

Now, the store credit is probably only going to be beneficial for those that are doing their shopping at OReillys anyway. For example, you can probably use that credit to get a replacement battery for your vehicle.

That being said, we still recommend that you take your old batteries to OReillys, even if you do not plan on buying anything there.

Sure, you won’t be able to take advantage of the store credit, but this is probably going to be one of the easiest places to recycle your old car batteries.

How Do You Take Car Batteries To OReillys?

You are only able to take your car batteries to OReillys if you are a standard consumer. Businesses are not allowed to take their car batteries to OReillys.

However, chances are that the staff probably won’t know whether you are a business or a standard customer, assuming that you stick to the other limits that OReillys has in place.

You are able to recycle a maximum of 2 batteries at OReillys per day. This is why the company probably wouldn’t even be able to tell whether you are a business user.

We can’t imagine that there are that many businesses that would be looking to recycle car batteries all that often.

What OReillys does ask, however, is that if you do take your batteries to them, you should ensure that each individual battery is packaged in a leak-free plastic bag.

The bag doesn’t need to be strong. It just needs to be sealed. There is a chance that OReillys will open up the bag to see what is inside. 

Once you have taken the batteries to them, they will give you your store credit right away. You should spend that store credit right away.

Will OReillys Accept Other Vehicle Waste?

While car batteries are probably going to be the bulkiest waste product that you will have from your vehicle, you probably won’t be replacing your car batteries all that often.

This means that you may not need to take them to OReillys all that often. However, there will be other waste products that you will need to get rid of, and OReillys may be just the ticket here.

You can recycle any of the following at OReillys:

  • Spare automotive parts (used)
  • Used oil filters
  • Motor oil
  • Other non-hazardous motor fluids.

There are limits on how much that you can take per day. At the moment, the limit is 5 gallons of fluid per day per household. This is a lot. So, you probably won’t even be coming close to that limit.

You must ensure that any spare automotive parts or oil filters are in a leak-proof plastic bag. You do not have to clean the old products before you take them in.

The fluids will need to be in a leak-free container. You do not need to use anything special here. Most people will use an old milk jug, and this is something that OReillys recommends.

Do bear in mind that whatever container you do choose to use, you will have to leave it behind. So, don’t take that oil in a container that you want to use again!

The one thing worth mentioning here, however, is that you will not be paid for any of this. The only thing that the company will pay for will be used car batteries. Nothing else will get you any cash, and it won’t get you any store credit.

That being said, it is still worth taking all of this to OReillys. For starters, we don’t think there is any place that will pay for waste like this. However, you may be able to sell old car parts somewhere else.

The major benefit of taking all of this to OReillys is more the fact that if you take it there, you know that it is going to be recycled properly. This means that you can really feel like you are doing your bit for the environment.


While OReillys will buy old car batteries from you, they will not be giving cash for those old car batteries. Instead, you will be given store credit.

The amount that you get will be dependent on the promotion that they are running. Most of the time, it will be $5 per battery, but it can sometimes go up to $10 per battery.

You are able to recycle most of your old car parts and used oils at OReillys. However, the only thing that you will receive payment for will be the batteries. 


Does Autozone Buy Old Batteries? (Recycling + More)

does autozone buy old batteries

Unless you have some sort of personal use for an old car battery, they aren’t worth keeping around. Batteries aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, especially as they sit around and corrode.

Fortunately, many auto parts stores offer incentives for returning yours, including Autozone. 

While Autozone doesn’t technically buy old batteries, they do offer a reasonable discount directly related to the core charge. If you purchase a new battery, the core charge is discounted from the battery you purchase. If not, you get a gift card. 

It’s not enough to make you go on an Autozone buying spree. For instance, the core charge in Pennsylvania is $19.01, because the one cent following $19 is relevant in some universe.

Regardless, you can usually get between $10 and $20, based on the core charge for the turned-in battery. 

Bring the Battery in for Recycling

You may not need a new battery but perhaps you have a few lead-acid batteries laying around that you wouldn’t mind getting rid of.

Three batteries might net you a nifty, $30 gift card at Autozone. They’re essentially paying you to recycle your battery. 

That’s a much better option than tossing the battery in your dumpster for the garbage pick-up. For one, it’s probably not legal to dump your battery like that. For two, batteries are terrible for the environment. 

The most common battery in a combustion vehicle is a lead-acid battery. Lead acid will eventually leak out of the battery and absorb into the ground.

Its eventual endpoint will be the groundwater table. Depending on where it’s at, that “groundwater” might be an aquifer.

Aquifers feed springs, especially in states like Florida, where the entire state is practically sitting on one of the biggest (if not the biggest) aquifers on the entire planet.

It feeds over a thousand natural springs throughout the state and that’s not where you want battery acid to end up. 

The good news is, when you turn your battery into places like Autozone, your battery will eventually be recycled at a rate of 97%.

The battery is crushed and ground into small particles. Once it’s submerged, all of the plastic floats to the top and is scooped up. 

The remainder of the battery (mostly the acid) is separated from the pool and collected as well. There are a lot of uses for the acid but often, it’s just rendered inert and disposed of.

Whatever is left over will eventually end up in a brand new battery, ready to go in another car, marine vessel, RV, bus, or EV.

Read also >> Does Advance Auto Buy Old Batteries? (Battery recycling + More)

Read also >> How Long to Leave a Car Running to Charge Battery (Do This)

How to Return Batteries to Autozone

The best way to do it is to take your failing car battery out and return it to Autozone. At the very least, you will get a discount on a brand-new battery for your car.

Car batteries are getting more and more expensive, so every little bit helps. 

You don’t have to do anything special. All you need to do is bring it inside the store and place it up on the counter when you are ready to turn it in.

Officially, Autozone offers a $22 credit for turning in an old battery to exchange for a new one. 

Of course, not every Autozone is beholden to what one Autozone does. That’s because every state has specific rules and regulations regarding materials that may be harmful to people or the environment.

Some states are much more involved in grabbing up old batteries and Autozone can make money off of that. 

If Autozone can make money off your old battery, you will get a slice of the pie as well. A small slice, to be sure, but a slice nonetheless.

Autozone also lists your credit and receipt on its website, which is advantageous if you have an account with them. 

Autozone’s Pay to Recycle Program

This is the part where you get $10 just for bringing in the battery but only if you are bringing it in to recycle, not if you’re bringing it in to exchange for a new battery.

Autozone’s Pay to Recycle Program will give you a $10 gift card for each battery you turn in for recycling.

AA and AAA batteries from your TV remote don’t count. We’re talking about car batteries, RV batteries, and marine vessel batteries.

Autozone also accepts your old motor oil. They don’t pay you anything for it but since it’s illegal in most states to irresponsibly dispose of it, Autozone is the logical choice to bring it to.

Along with your battery, Autozone accepts a number of car-related parts and even some that aren’t related to a vehicle at all. 

  • Plastic
  • Cardboard
  • Old Pallets
  • Steel 
  • Old car parts
  • Batteries
  • Motor oil

While Autozone may only pay you a gift card for returning your battery for recycling, returning all of the above is a good way to get on the good side of Autozone employees.

It could ultimately lead to a beneficial relationship down the road.

It gives the old “friends with benefits” adage an all-new meaning. Most car batteries are expected to last between 3 and 5 years.

 That means you should get pretty extensive use out of your battery before you need to bring it to Autozone again. 

Another plus with batteries is that they generally come with pretty good warranties—more than one year in most cases.

If anything happens to your battery (so long as it’s not your fault for leaving your dome lights on all night), you can get a new one under the warranty. 

If you do take advantage of the warranty, bringing back the faulty battery may or may not net you any additional money. It just depends on the Autozone in question. 

All Things Considered

While Autozone doesn’t technically buy back your old battery, they will throw you a gift card under their recycling policy and provide you with a $22 discount for returning it in exchange for another. 

If you have a bunch of old batteries, a few $10 gift cards is worth the effort of dragging them into Autozone. You certainly don’t get paid to store them on your garage floor, after all. 


Who Invented the Internal Combustion Engine? (History + More)

Who Invented the Internal Combustion Engine

Most of us know that cars and many vehicles overall have been made possible due to the internal combustion engine.

To call it a critical piece of human history would be a vast understatement. But despite how important it is and has been to human society overall, not many people actually know who invented the internal combustion engine.

That’s a terrible travesty, so today, we’re going to talk about who invented it, and how and why they did it.

A Convoluted History

The funny thing is, there’s actually a bit of debate on who should really get the credit for the invention of the internal combustion engine.

You see, credit is most often given to one Étienne Lenoir, a Belgian inventor who invented the first commercially successful internal combustion engine in 1860.

But whether or not this counts as “inventing” the internal combustion engine can be debated. Lenoir’s model wasn’t the first internal combustion ever made: it wasn’t even the first one to ever be patented. In 1794, Robert Street built an internal combustion engine, but it wasn’t patented by any official organization.

The first internal combustion engine to be patented was built by Nicéphore Niépce in 1807. After proving its capability in a boat in France, a patent was granted by Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

But as for the first internal combustion engine to be used industrially, that goes to Samuel Brown in 1823. Before that, these engines were used in personal affairs only.

Read also >> How an Internal Combustion Engine Works (Step By Step)

It’s worth noting that these engines were all technically “internal combustion engines”, but they weren’t anything like the kind you would think of today.

In fact, the first carburetor didn’t even exist until 1826. But even so, they were all a form of an internal combustion engine, with many of them laying the groundwork for later models.

Still, they were mostly personal projects tested by inventors on their own time, and none of them because serialized. It wasn’t until 1860, when Lenoir’s internal combustion engine was met with commercial success, making it the first of these to do so. But even then, there’s more to consider.

Because finally, we have the first “modern” internal combustion engine invented in 1876 by Nicolaus Otto.

While this engine is still a far cry from what we have nowadays, it was the first petrol engine and the basis by which all of our modern combustion engines originate today.

The point is, it’s difficult to pinpoint one single person who deserves the credit for the invention of the internal combustion engine, because there are many ways to make one, and different people have made different types of internal combustion engines throughout history. 

And besides, what counts as “inventing”? The first one to conceive of the idea? The first one to make a working model?

The first person to get their version patented. Or the first person to achieve commercial success with it? It’s really up to one’s opinion.

In the case of internal combustion engines, most people like to give credit to Lenoir in 1860, simply because, without the commercial success of his model, the modern internal combustion engine that we know today may never have been designed, or at least, it may not have been designed until much later.

Furthermore, Otto’s journey to creating the petrol engine started because he was interested in Lenoir’s engine.

In that sense, Lenoir can be considered a progenitor of sorts. Still, it’s hard to give him complete and total credit: let’s dive into this confusing history in more detail.

Lenoir’s Engine

Étienne Lenoir was born in in 1822, in a town called Mussy-la-Ville. At the time, it was part of Luxembourg, but today, it lies within the borders of Belgium.

He lived there for much of his young life, but he moved to Paris in 1850, at which time he worked as an engineer and experimented with electricity.

Around this time, steam was the primary form of locomotion for engines. But Lenoir wanted to create an engine that could run on coal or gas, two resources that Paris had plenty of.

Lenoir’s idea for an engine included the use of a spark plug, which, oddly enough, was another patented invention of his. 

Basing his design on the steam engine, Lenoir’s engine had only one cylinder, which made it very prone to overheating. an uncompressed mixture of gas and air was ignited via a spark plug on the first stroke, and the expanding gas pushed the piston back out. The second stroke ejected the burnt gas.

When it was all said and done, Lenoir’s internal combustion engine could power a three-wheel vehicle, propelling it up to speeds of roughly two miles an hour.

Of course, this doesn’t sound impressive by today’s standards. But this was the first time a land vehicle was propelled by a motor, instead of being pulled by an animal.

Other impressive aspects of Lenoir’s engine include its many firsts: it had two-stroke action double-sided operation and was the first internal combustion engine in which the fuel mixture was not compressed before going into the engine. 

As for the commercial success of this engine, it was relatively successful for the era, with about 500 of them being built in total.

That may not sound like a lot today, but at that time, any invention selling that many copies was quite a feat.

Unfortunately, Lenoir’s intention did not bring him unfathomable wealth until the end of his days. He became a French citizen in 1870 after helping the French in the Franco-Prussian War, and he even received a medal of excellence from the French government for his contribution to the field of telegraphy.

But despite all of this, he died in 1900 with almost nothing to his name. Even though he had, for all intents and purposes, invented automobiles, he ended his life in complete destitution.

Nikolaus Otto and The Modern Internal Combustion Engine

Despite Lenoir’s commercial success with the engine, he designed in 1860, it wasn’t much like the engines that we know of today.

Of course, the one we’re about to mention is also quite a ways off from what you may see in a car in modern times, but in 1876, Nikolaus Oslo laid the groundwork for what we use now.

Born in 1832, Otto was a German engineer that designed an internal combustion engine not all that dissimilar from Lenoir’s own. In fact, he and his brother built a copy of Lenoir’s engine, but with liquid fuel. However, its patent was rejected.

After that failure, Otto and his brother made the first four-stroke engine using the compressed fuel charge concept, but it was only able to run for a few minutes without breaking.

Otto’s brother gave up on the notion, forcing Otto to look for aid and funding elsewhere. He spent a few years without great success, but that eventually changed.

Ultimately, he teamed up with Eugen Langen, the son of a sugar industrialist. They entered a partnership in 1864, creating NA Otto & Cie in Cologne.

Of particular note is the fact that this was the first company in the world completely dedicated to the production of internal combustion engines. 

Eventually, Otto did manage to create a four-stroke atmospheric internal combustion engine, which earned it a gold medal at the World Fair in 1867.

It consumed half the gas the Lenoir engine did. Dubbed the Otto engine, it would become a precursor to future internal combustion engine designs. By 1875, the company had procured 634 engines.

It was a great commercial success but had its mechanical limitations: it only produced three horsepower, despite requiring 10-13 feet of headroom for operation.

Needless to say, this wasn’t ideal. Later on, Otto, with the help of Franz Rings and Herman Schumm, invented the Four Stroke, Compressed Charge engine in 1876.

This was the first internal combustion engine to use in-cylinder compression, and it was me with great commercial success right away. Ultimately, 2649 atmospheric engines were made before they were discontinued in 1882.

This marked a huge commercial success for the engine and proved the value of internal combustion engines.

Even so, Otto’s internal combustion engine of the four-stroke compressed charge variety was the world’s first petrol engine, and it lead to the modern combustion engines that we have today.

Surely, someone would have made them eventually if Otto hadn’t, but he did it first in this regard, so he gets the credit there.


As you can see, the history of the internal combustion engine is quite complicated. Who should get credit for it? Lenoir, who was the first to have commercial success?

Those who patented a version of the engine before him? Or Otto, who laid the groundwork for the modern engines we have today?

Ultimately, some credit should go to everyone who played a part in the creation of the internal combustion engine.

Everyone who contributed added something valuable to the final product we now have.


How an Internal Combustion Engine Works (Step By Step)

How an Internal Combustion Engine Works

Your vehicle runs on a combustion engine. Although, we are sure that you knew that part. You aren’t here to learn what type of engine you have in your vehicle. Instead, you want to know how they work.

Now, combustion engines are pretty complicated beasts. If we were to tell you everything about their inner workings, we would be here all day.

Instead, we are going to give you a simplistic step-by-step of how they work. By the end of this page, you will have more knowledge than you started with.

The Basics Of a Combustion Engine

It doesn’t matter the size of the combustion engine that you have, the principle is the same.

You inject some sort of fuel into the engine, and you set it alight. When this happens, a gas is produced. Because the gas is enclosed in such a tiny amount of space, the pressure builds up. It is the energy generated by this fuel combustion that runs the rest of the engine. 

The combustion engine is nothing new. While the design has, of course, been refined over the years, the principle behind the combustion engine is based heavily on the same principles established in the mid-1800s.

There are four steps to a combustion engine. These are actually four strokes of the piston, hence why you may sometimes see vehicle engines referred to as four-stroke engines. 

Yes. You can get 2 stroke engines, which slightly shorten the combustion process, but that is out of the scope of this guide. This is because these engines tend to be for lower-powered tools e.g. lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc.

Do bear in mind that there are a variety of components in your vehicle that will make your combustion engine work e.g. the fuel injector.

However, we are focusing purely on the combustion engine part here. We are going to assume that you already understand that there will be components that move the fuel from the fuel tank toward the engine. 

The Car’s Battery 

Remember, while the movement of the engine is going to be controlled by your vehicle’s engine, it still needs a little bit of power to run a few processes.

This power comes from your car’s battery. The car’s battery will generate the power to kick the engine into motion.

You should also remember that your vehicle will be constantly charging the battery when it is in motion. Some of the movement energy from the vehicle’s engine will drive an alternator which, in turn, charges the battery.

However, how this works is out of the scope of this page. We want to focus purely on they combustion engine part here.

Read also >> How Long To Charge a Dead Car Battery With Alternator?

Read also >> How Long to Leave a Car Running to Charge Battery (Do This)

The First Stroke 

Alright, as we said, you should already know that your vehicle has a fuel tank in it. From the fuel tank, there will be a fuel injector.

This is essentially a piston and a small pipe that will inject fuel into the engine. Only a small amount of fuel will be sent into the engine at once.

The exact amount of fuel will be dependent on the size of the engine. Anything that is not being combusted at that moment in time will be stored well out of the way.

The first stroke of the engine will pull the fuel into it. As we said, this will only be a small amount. However, as you will likely remember from your High School chemistry classes, having fuel sent into the engine is not going to do the whole job.

You need air for there to be fire. So, at the same time, a bit of oxygen is going to get pulled in too. The exact ratio between the fuel and the oxygen will vary.

The Second Stroke 

The job of the combustion engine is to ensure the greatest controlled explosion possible with the tiniest amount of fuel. This makes the second stroke much more important.

Once the fuel has been drawn into the combustion engine, another piston will move up and squash the fuel and the oxygen up nice and tight.

This is known as compression. The more compression there is, the greater the power coming from the engine. Many of the more fuel-efficient engines out there will have nailed this part of the process. 

Remember, this entire process is going to be incredibly fast, and the compression will only take a fraction of a second.

The Third Stroke 

The third stroke is when your vehicle’s spark plug comes into play.

As the fuel is compressed, the spark plug will ignite. As the name suggests, the spark plug will create a spark.

This is why your engine won’t work without a spark plug, or even an incorrectly sized spark plug (it wouldn’t reach the fuel).

The spark from the spark plug will ignite the fuel. This creates a powerful explosion inside of the engine.

This is the most important part of the process. This is because as that explosion happens, the sheer power behind it will push another piston.

You have movement inside of the engine. It is this small reaction that drives all of the movement inside your engine.

The Fourth Stroke 

By now, all of the movement inside that engine will have happened. However, we still have one stroke left.

You have all of that combusted fuel in your engine (by now, it is mostly water vapor), and you don’t really want it hanging around.

This means that the final stroke in that engine is going to push all of that waste out of your system. The fourth stroke is, essentially, pushing that spent fuel out of your exhaust pipe.

The Process Repeats

As we said, this entire process happens very quickly. The engine needs to be constantly moving, which means fuel needs to be constantly exploding.

This means that the process takes under a second to do. However, now is a good time to introduce you to one last component of a vehicle’s engine.

Although do bear in mind that not all combustion engines will not have this component. However, it is pretty vital for a vehicle, because the car wouldn’t be able to generate enough power without it.

If you are looking at the advertising material for a vehicle, then you will notice that they often take pride in the number of cylinders that they have. The more cylinders a vehicle has, the more fuel-efficient that vehicle is. 

Each cylinder on a vehicle will be going through those four stages that we mentioned before. So, if you have a four-cylinder engine, then the process will be gone through four times at once. If you have a six-cylinder engine, then the process will happen six times at once.

This means that, at any one time, you could have as many as six different mini-fuel explosions happening in your vehicle.

Each cylinder will be drawing in its own fuel and causing those little explosions that drive the pistons in the vehicle.

It is a very efficient process, and a single cylinder wouldn’t be able to do enough to make the whole vehicle work. 

How Does an Internal Combustion Engine Work? >> Check out the video below:

Does a Diesel Engine Work The Same as a Gas Engine?

The principle is very much the same. Although the components are slightly different, so you can’t put diesel in a gas engine.

That being said, less diesel needs to be used to run each part of the process. This is because diesel is a much denser fuel, and thus it produces more energy when it ignites.

However, companies tend to steer clear of using diesel engines, simply because it requires a lot of effort to extract the right amount of power from diesel.

If an engine hasn’t been designed properly, then it would be unable to take all of the energy from the combusting diesel, so you would effectively be wasting fuel. 

Remember, because diesel is denser, it puts a lot more strain on the system too.


As you can see, the way in which an internal combustion engine works is incredibly simple. Obviously, vehicle engines will be incredibly well-designed.

There are a lot of moving parts. However, it doesn’t really matter what car you own. The vehicle’s engine will follow the same process; draws in fuel, compresses the fuel, ignites the fuel, and expels the fuel.

You will have multiple cylinders in your vehicle’s engine doing the same job. This is what allows your car to move. 


error: Content is protected !!