To understand what is going on under that bonnet, you need to know what type of engine your car has. This may come as a surprise for many car owners who feel a little technologically challenged because they probably think that every car has the same engine. However, there are several types of car engines with increased advancement as racing cars and hybrid electric cars are emerging with rapid popularity. The working mechanism of every type of engine is almost the same as they heavily rely on the combustion process. This article tries to cover all the types of engines that are used in cars.
The Four Stroke Combustion Cycle
Combustion cycle is the process of powering the engine. This cycle has usually four steps of strokes. This four-stroke combustion cycle converts gasoline into kinetic motion. Let us first have a look at these steps, and how do they contribute to the combustion cycle.
Intake Stroke: When the piston moves downwards, air and fuel are taken into the cylinder that creates a vacuum. The inlet valves open and allows the release of the fuel-air mixture as the belt rotates on the camshaft.
Compression Stroke: In compression stroke, air and fuel mixture are compressed when the piston moves upwards. The inline valve gets closed by the upstroke of the cylinder pressure and density. The mixture gets fixed into a tight space.
Combustion Stroke: Combustion stroke is also known as the power stroke that is created when the compressed air and fuel mixture is ignited with a spark plug. Explosive expansions of gas occur that forces the cylinder downwards.
Exhaust Stroke: When the piston reaches downwards, the exhaust valve opens allowing the waste gases to release from the exhaust valve. After that, the cycle starts again with the intake stroke.
Types of Engines for Cars
Following are the different types of cylinder layouts that are commonly found in car engines. These layouts are considered to be the types of engines.
In a straight engine, the inline cylinders are arranged one after another in the form of a line. This type of engines are smaller, lightweight, and fuel-efficient as compared to V-type, rotatory, or diesel engines. These engines are easier to build because the crankshaft and cylinder bank can be easily creased in a single metal casting. There are almost 5 to 6 cylinders in the engine that is mostly used in Audi and reconditioned BMW engines, This makes the engine cost low in its production and also low-maintenance. These engines are ideal for front-wheel-drive cars. However, these engines are not so smooth and strong to work in other than smaller cars.
A V-type engine is named after the shaped of the cylinder placement when you look at it from the front. There are two rows of cylinders in a V-type engine placed at a 60° angle. These cylinders are connected by a crankshaft on the base of the V shape. Cadillac was the first company to use a V-8 engine in its cars. The engine is very smooth because of its strength to block, sturdy crankshaft, short-length, and a low profile. This engine is ideal for motorsport applications as it increases the car’s handling performance that is needed in racing. Normal configurations of this engine come in V6, V8, V10, and V12
The rotatory engine is also known as Wankel engine that is now only used in the Mazda RX-8 and previous RX-7 models. The engine doesn’t have any piston and uses rotors. This type of engine is small, compact, and has a curved inner shape. By turning into just one direction, the central rotor of the engine can perform all four strokes. However, the torque level and restriction on the breathing capacity of the engine are some limitations in the design.
Diesel engines are quite popular to date. Although used mostly in transport vehicles or bigger cars, the engine works similar to the petrol engine. It uses a compression process to ignite the air-fuel mixture before releasing it into the combustion chamber. The life expectancy of a diesel engine is twice as compared to petrol engines. They are more efficient in converting fuel into mechanical energy without producing too much heat in the cooling and exhaust system. However, they are not as smooth and quiet as petrol engines.