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Types of Car Engines – The Basics

on February 11, 2019
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Types of Car Engines – The Basics

on February 11, 2019

The car engine can be one of the most complicated and confusing components of one’s car, despite being essentially the most important component that makes a car actually run.  A car engineer can bring car engine parts together to make the “heart of the car” give life to our vehicle.

It’s absolutely no secret that each car can come with a different type of engine and understanding each of them can be quite a challenge.  Before searching “how does a car engine work”, you should first understand the types of engine configurations there are.  

Here’s how you can identify the different car engine types available on the market today and begin learning how a car engine works.

V Engine

A V engine, or VEE engine, is one of the most common configurations when it comes to engines inside of a high-end sports-car.  They are more compact than other configurations and have a complex design that resembles the letter “V”, hence why it is referred to as the V engine.  Each engine comes in a different configuration according to its car cylinder, one of the most crucial part when it comes to car engine parts. While the V engine series include the V12, V8, and V6, the V8 and V6 are the most common engines to be found on consumer vehicles.

v engine - Types of Car Engines – The Basics

Advantages of the V Engine

  • Increases primary balance & reduces vibrations
  • Easily inserted into high-end sports-cars due to its compact size
  • Smoother operation for high-speed performance
  • Smallest of all the eight-cylinder engines
  • Low position of bonnet helps in aerodynamics

Disadvantages of the V Engine

  • More components inside
  • Heavier than other engines
  • More expensive
  • More complex

Inline Engine

An inline engine, also commonly referred to as a straight engine, features cylinders arranged in a line.  Typically, they will be facing in an upward direction which is perpendicular to the car.  This design allows the engine to be installed into a wide variety of small cars on the market but provides less space overall.  Many mechanics consider the INLINE engine to be much easier to work on and find it more reliable than the V engine. 

inline engine straight engine - Types of Car Engines – The Basics

Advantages of the Inline Engine

  • Little to no vibration
  • Less complex
  • More powerful

Disadvantages of the Inline Engine

  • More expensive to manufacture
  • More susceptible to oil leaks
  • Take up more interior space

Boxer Engine

The boxer engine is very unique in its configuration, as it features horizontally opposed engines that utilize cylinders that are laid down on their side in two banks.  These two cylinders do not face each other.  They are placed pointing away from each other, which allows gravity to stay at the lowest level.

boxer engine - Types of Car Engines – The Basics

Advantages of the Boxer Engine

  • Great balance
  • Better speed performance
  • Unique design

Disadvantages of the Boxer Engine

  • Larger and heavier than other engines
  • More complex
  • Requires more maintenance
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Rotary Engine

The rotary engine is most famously known for being the engine with no pistons.  Rotary engines operate on rotors rather than pistons.  The design is typically small and compact in size and is curved in its shape.  The central rotor turns in only one direction, producing all 4 Otto cycles including exhaust, intake, compression, and power when it is running.

Rotary engines aren’t too popular today, with the Mazda RX-8 being the most popular vehicle on the market that features it.  Many manufacturers choose not to manufacture rotary engines due to the fact that its design limitations cause low torque levels in most rotary engines.

rotary engine - Types of Car Engines – The Basics

The Advantages of a Rotary Engine

  • They are less  complex
  • They create more power
  • They are reliable and last a while

The Disadvantages of a Rotary Engine

  • More expensive to repair
  • Less fuel efficiency
  • Requires more maintenance

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