Automotive engineering has come a long way since cars were first invented. Today, most cars feature an engine that has either 4, 5, 6, or 8 cylinders. However, not everyone knows what difference any of that makes. Still, understanding the differences between modern engines is of paramount importance, especially if you plan on buying a new car anytime soon.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this basic cylindrical rule, but for the most part, the cars on the roads today will be just as described. One specific “rule breaker” of an engine is the one featured in the Dodge Viper which has 10 cylinders. Other high-end automobiles can have as many as 12 cylinders, but let’s first discuss what that means.
The Duty of the Engine Cylinder
Inside every car is a number of cylinders which are partially responsible for giving the car its power. All combustion occurs in the engine cylinder. What happens is simple: each cylinder contains a piston which moves up and down inside of it. Some move side-to-side, but for now, let’s stick with the basics. The piston inside the cylinder is connected to the crankshaft, which is what delivers the energy once it is created with combustion. This energy travels to the transmission and ultimately makes the car move. While the process may seem a bit complicated, it truly is not.
Cylinders, Modern Cars, and Engine Types
So how does all this come together to form the different types of engines that we see on the streets today? For starters, you must understand that the number of cylinders a car has the most horsepower it can crank out. Torque and power are directly related to the cylinder count of a car, and engines with more cylinders are typically bigger and chug a lot more fuel.
You might notice that cars are often referred to as “V” or “In-Line” when the cylinders are being described. This simply means that the cylinders are in either a V-shape or they are in a straight line. In-line engines typically feature 4, 5, or 6 cylinders. The V-line cylinder, which can feature 6, 8, 10, or 12, was actually invented to fit more cylinders, thus making it able to produce more torque.
Some of the more modern models such as Porche and Subaru use neither V-line nor the inline cylinder configuration. Instead, both of those models use “flat” or “boxer” engines. These unique engines are powerful despite their wonky appearance, and feature cylinders which lay flat on either side of the crankshaft. Either way, you will notice that in-line engines are narrower when mounted, comparatively speaking about the V-line models, of course.
Keep in mind when exploring the different types of car engines out there that V-line engines make for better handling while in-line engines do not. This is a design benefit, due to the fact that V-line engines have a much more stable center of gravity. Now, when you look at a car and see the symbols such as I-4, I-6, V-8, and V-12 you will finally have an idea of what it means.