By on March 23, 2015

Jason Fenske is a mechanical engineer with a degree from NC State. A car enthusiast, after a number of times explaining how cars worked to his girlfriend, with the encouragement of friends he set up the EngineeringExplained website to explain to the general public how cars, and other mechanical devices like turbine engines and jet-skis, work.

I first found out about Fenske with his YouTube video on how automotive mufflers work, and if you click on the Lessons link at his website you will find an extensive selection of educational videos ranging from the differences between two and four stroke internal combustion engines to explaining the traction circle, a mathematical representation of how much grip your tires have. Fenske is a natural teacher, presenting technically accurate information in a simple and easy to understand manner that both car enthusiasts and complete mechanical novices will find worthwhile. The videos are not glitzy or high tech, just Fenske, a whiteboard and some car parts, but he does as good of a job explaining how cars work as I’ve come across.

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11 Comments on “How Cars Work, Engineering Explained...”

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Looks interesting, but I prefer to read my content, not watch videos. Not conducive to quick skimming while at the office.

  • avatar

    I wonder if Mr. Fenske has any insights in his videos about why Cadillacs are so horrible. Mitsubishis and Suzukis are better engineered.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably not. Someone else already has the market cornered on that stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      Designing & building vehicles that are class-competitive, let alone class-leading is a seriously challenging endeavor.

      Doing so while getting the pricing right makes it even much more difficult.

      Cadillac, as recent sales figures demonstrate, is really challenged with respect to the former, and almost hopelessly confounded regarding the latter (the Escalade, for reasons that escape me, but not the broader market, importantly, excluded).

      I do think that, in general, because compact and midsize vehicles have gotten better relative to the rest of the segments, it’s very difficult to rationally justify charging literally 2x to 3x as much for something like an ATS when a Chevy Cruze has as much interior room, is just as quiet, has a substantial feel, is as reliable if not more so, has better gauges (by far), and arguably rides better over less than ideal road surfaces (I’d argue it rides much better).

      • 0 avatar

        DW, I agree the price differential confusion between midsize and luxury vehicles. I have noted for several years the marked improvement in “family vehicle” interiors as to design, material quality and the extras that are available (seat heaters, leather, satelliite radio, etc.) Coincident with this is a cheapening of the “luxury vehicle”. Extra cost for a decent engine, extra for decent seating, bigger wheels and so forth. If developmental costs are even close, this volume related money pit, really move me to purchase a “loaded” midsizer over a bottom of the rung MBZ, BMW or Infiniti.
        Now if the rental companies would only return to the 20K mileage and out rule, I could really save some $$.

      • 0 avatar


        The Cadillac Escalade, er, the Chevy Suburban with the bright headlights + lots of gaudy shiny trim + leather seats option package has had me confounded for more than fifteen years. But hey, good on Caddillac for raking in the cash with these things.

  • avatar

    Does he happen to have a video that would help teach the basics of driving a manual shift?

  • avatar

    Normally I would already be en guarde with anyone intro’ing themselves as having a degree from X location, but i’ve already watched his and they are excellent and always informative. thank you.

  • avatar

    He’s made one explaining why comparing engines using HP per liter is bunk. Many here should watch.

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