If you are like me, you must have wondered what terms like V8, turbocharged, four-stroke cylinder means. These terms can be somewhat complicated, especially if you are new to cars and it’s auto parts. I begin to wonder; is one car engine better than the other? As a car owner or a general car enthusiast, it’s very right for you to know all car engines are not the same. Knowing the kind of engine your car runs on, will better help you understand- yea, bond better- with your car.
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A car engine is responsible for propelling your car from one point to the order. It works by facilitating the internal combustion of energy-producing fluids such as petrol or fuel. Modern engines make use of a four-stroke principle known as the Otto cycle, hence the name; four-stroke engine.
Types Of Car Engine
Car engines are broadly classified into two categories.
- According to the engine layout
- According to the number of cylinder
According to engine Layout
Engine Layout speaks of the configuration of the engine ie. how it looks. Modern car engine have similar components, including Inside, you’ll find combustion chambers, spark plugs, pistons and more. How these components are arranged defines the layout of the engine. Your car engine can fall in any of these layouts;
Like the name implies, the straight engine layout has all it’s cylinders lineally arrayed. The engine is positioned parallel to the length of the car, meaning it goes from the front of the engine bay to the back. This layout allows more cylinders to be added if needed or befitting by the car manufacturer.
The straight engine layout is commonly seen in powerful sedans like the BMW, Mercedes Benz.
The online Engine layout is often defined as the ‘side by side layout. The cylinders in the inline Engine layout are arranged in a fashion perpendicular to the car, meaning it goes from the left of the engine bay to the right. This layout allows for more space around the car for other parts like the car battery and cooling system; as the engine is kept small.
The inline engine layout is widely used, especially in family cars and hatchbacks.
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This is also called the ‘Boxer engine’ layout. This layout keeps the engine as flat as possible; its cylinders are laid down flat in both directions. Both sides will have cylinders positioned in such a way that the pistons ‘punch’ outwards. The flat Engine layout is much easier to handle, as its centre of gravity is kept low due to its arrangement.
You must have heard Vs- a lot when car engines are described. It is so named because the cylinders are arranged at an angle of 60 degrees to each other such that they form a V. This Layout allows for more cylinders to be added easily, and thus more power is generated in small areas. The V engine layout is used in many high-performance luxury cars.
VR and W
The VR and W configuration works on a similar principle to the V engines, however, the distance between the two rows of cylinders is so narrow that they’re compressed together in one block. The VR engine was developed by the Volkswagen Group. A W configuration joins two banks of VR engines together at their base. VR engines are rarely used now, though W engines feature in cars such as the Bentley Mulsanne.
According to number of cylinder
The number of cylinders a car has affected the power output and fuel efficiency. Number of cylinders can range from as little as one to as much as sixteen. One cylinder engines are found mostly in scooters and motorcycles. It is wise to buy just the right car with the enough cylinders to give you the adequate power and fuel efficiency you need.
Twin cylinders or two cylinders is the lowest you will find in a car. However, it is the least as it generates very little energy. A modern modification to the twin-cylinder is the turbocharged which generates sufficiently much power. This engine type is found on Fiat 500 TwinAir and the Fiat Panda Aria.
Cars like Ford Focus and Peugeot 308 have the three cylinder engine. Add one more cylinder to the twin cylinders, and you have three cylinders. It produces more power, however, car manufacturers prefer using a twin turbocharged engine. The characteristic sound of this engine type is distinctive burbling noise and a shuddering vibration.
Check out most cars on the road, and you’d find four cylinders in the engine. Usually, these four cylinders are arranged in an inline type, allowing it to take up less space. They have higher power output and fuel efficiency to meet daily needs.
A unique thing about five cylinders engines is the kind of noise they make. It is often described as being a ‘warbling’ sound because the five cylinders ignite in an unusual order. Few car models have five cylinders in their engine make and design. Most models like Volvo and Audi have a five-cylinder engine.
A six-cylinder engine is usually welcomed in most luxury cars. Their Layout is normally in the V-layout; hence the name V6. Unlike the rather ‘unpleasant’ sound of the five-cylinder engine, the six-cylinder greets you with its high-pitched, racecar-like sound. This cylinder type is common with high-performance cars; the power output is quite huge.
Eight cylinders and more
The more the cylinders, the more the power output of a car. Sport and race cars like the Ferrari have a higher number of cylinders to meet the power demand. They’re normally set up in a V formation, hence being referred to as V8, V10, or V12. Until recently, V12 was the largest engine available, but that all changed with the arrival of the super-quick Bugatti Veyron, which boasts sixteen cylinders.
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