Types of Car Engines

Nov. 22, 2021

When you buy a car, you will come across many different terms to describe the various car parts, including the engine. Descriptions such as 'V8' and 'twin' can be confusing to the average car buyer. Is one engine type better than another? When it comes to engine cylinders, is the more the merrier? These are all legitimate questions before making a buying decision.


Car engine types are usually described according to two attributes: the layout of the engine and the configuration of the cylinders. In this article, we will describe some of the traditional engine layouts and cylinder configurations. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what distinguishes one type of engine from another!


Engine layout

Modern internal combustion engines have similar basic components. Inside, you will find combustion chambers, spark plugs, pistons, etc. However, the way these parts are arranged (their "layout") can vary considerably. Car manufacturers will often choose one layout over another, depending on how it fits their car and how they intend to use it. For example, a smaller car will need an engine that takes up less space.


Here are some of the standard engine layouts you may have heard of.

Straight engine

In a straight engine layout, all cylinders are arranged in a linear fashion. The engine is positioned parallel to the length of the car, which means it runs from the front of the engine bay to the rear. With this layout, the car engine can have more cylinders, which is why you will usually find it in more powerful saloons.

The straight engine layout can sometimes be confused with an inline design. Read below!

EURO V Vehicle Engine CA4DLD Series

 EURO V Vehicle Engine CA4DLD Series     

Inline engines

With an inline engine, the cylinders are arranged in a straight line, just like a straight engine layout. However, it does not run front to back. Instead, it runs perpendicular to the car, which means it runs from the left side of the engine bay to the right side. Some people might describe the cylinders as being placed 'side by side.


With this layout, the engine can be kept small. It frees up more space around the engine for components such as the car's battery and cooling system. The inline engine layout is widely used, especially in family cars and hatchbacks.


Flat engine

As the name implies, this layout keeps the engine as flat as possible. Sometimes referred to as a "boxer engine", it has cylinders that are flat in both directions. The cylinders on each side are positioned in such a way that the pistons are "stamped" outwards. This layout keeps the car's center of gravity low and thus makes it easier to handle.


The engine

The V-shaped engine is neither flat nor straight, its cylinders are arranged at a V-shaped angle. This option is used to combine the advantages of the above layouts. the V-shape allows the car to fit more cylinders in less space. More power in a smaller area makes the V-engine layout ideal for luxury high-performance vehicles.

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