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Car Engine Types: Everything you need to know about car engines

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

The car engine is the heart of any vehicle and is the most crucial part of your car since it powers the car and is responsible for running smoothly. Any issue or damage to the engine can make a big difference and affects not just the power but also the mileage of your car.

There are many different car engine types, each with unique characteristics and features. Some engines are designed for performance, while others are built for fuel efficiency.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most common car engine types and discuss their key differences.




Car Engine Types By Layout

Modern-day car engines generate power using internal combustion or controlled explosions, which ignite the fuel inside the engine’s cylinders. This process is called a combustion cycle, hence the name of this engine.

The combustion cycle has four strokes - intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.

Since the combustion engine comes in several types, it is classified based on several parameters. The most common classification of a car engine is by the layout. Here are some of the common car engines that are used in modern cars.

Straight or Inline Engine

Straight or inline engines are placed in a line and can be placed parallel or perpendicular in a car, depending on the number of cylinders.

Straight engines are widely used as they are inexpensive and are used in hatchbacks and compact cars.

Flat Engine

Unlike a straight engine, the flat engine puts the cylinders horizontally and is also called a boxer engine since it mimics the gloves of a boxer punching their gloves before a fight. The engine creates a low vibration and improves the car's handling, making it an ideal choice for smaller cars.

However, flat engines can be expensive to manufacture and thus are used only in premium vehicles.


One of the most popular engine layouts, the V engine is seen in almost all high-performance vehicles.

The engine's cylinder banks are arranged in a V shape, and this layout can accommodate more cylinders in less space. This makes it ideal for all vehicles and produces more power as all pistons achieve their power stroke in less time. However, the V engine is prone to vibrations and expensive to repair.

Car Engine Types By Configuration

Car engine type by configuration is simply an engine that is differentiated by the number of cylinders used. There are several types of formats available in modern cars.

Twin-Cylinder Engine

The twin-cylinder engine is ideally used in two-wheelers due to its low power output and is no longer used in cars.

Three-Cylinder Engine

Generally used in small cars and hatchbacks, the three-cylinder engine has a lower power output and lacks refinement due to the odd number of cylinders. However, with the introduction of turbochargers, it is ideal for powering passenger vehicles.

Four-Cylinder Engine

One of the most common engine configurations, the four-cylinder engine, is used in passenger vehicles and large cars. Four-cylinder engines are refined and produce more power compared to three-cylinder engines.

Five-Cylinder Engine

This is a rare engine type that is used by car manufacturers like Volvo, Audi, and others.

Six-Cylinder Engine

The six-cylinder engine is typically used in high-end cars or sports cars. It is powerful and comes with turbochargers, most commonly used in a straight or V engine layout.

Eight/Ten/Twelve Cylinder Engine

For supercars or vehicles requiring massive power, you will have eight or more cylinders, typically in the V layout. They are commonly called V8, V10, and V12 engines.

Engines by Fuel Type

Petrol and diesel engines are the most common in modern cars. However, alternative fuel engines are also becoming popular. The common car engine types depend on the fuel that powers the motor.

Petrol Engine

The most common engine type in India is the petrol engine or gasoline engine, manufactured to run on petrol. This Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is often adapted to use spark ignition.

It has a lower compression ratio and uses either the four-stroke Otto cycle or V engines, having a thermodynamic efficiency of 20% (which is half that of diesel engines).

Diesel Engine

Another common type of car engine is the diesel engine. Diesel engines work similarly to ICEs but use diesel instead of petrol. Diesel engines burn diesel fuel, which is a heavier and oilier fuel. This allows diesel engines to produce more power and torque than their gasoline counterparts. Diesel engines are also typically less efficient and produce more emissions.

Alternative Fuel Engines

Alternative fuel engines are also gaining popularity in the automotive industry. One is the electric engine, which uses electricity to power the car's wheels.

Electric engines are becoming increasingly popular due to their high efficiency and low emissions. They are also relatively simple and require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, making them the future of mobility.

Since the shift to electric is still not practical for several reasons, another alternative engine type is the hybrid engine, which combines an ICE with an electric motor.

Hybrid engines use the internal combustion engine for most of the driving, but the electric motor provides additional power when needed. This allows hybrid cars to be more efficient than traditional gasoline cars, and they are becoming increasingly popular as a result.


There are many different types of car engines, each with its own unique characteristics and features. Whether you are looking for performance, efficiency, or a combination of the two, there is an engine type out there that will meet your needs.

Like other parts of your vehicle, the car engine needs proper care and can get damaged for several reasons, so take proper care of it. You can also opt for Engine Protection Cover in your Comprehensive Car Insurance Policy to include your car’s engine for insurance coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are common questions about car engines.


Which is the most common type of engine used in modern cars?

The internal combustion engine is one of the most common types of engines in modern cars and is mainly used in petrol and diesel-powered cars. The engine features a spark-ignition system to power the car and is highly energy efficient, making it ideal for use in passenger and commercial vehicles.

Does every insurance plan cover engine protection?

No, not all motor vehicle insurance covers engine protection, and it is often available as an add-on to your car insurance policy.

Do we need Engine Protection Cover in car insurance?

Yes. Engines are the most commonly affected parts of any car and can get damaged easily during an accident or natural calamities like floods. Although wear and tear or mechanical failure are not covered as part of a car insurance claim, an Engine Protection Cover will help you get financial coverage. It is recommended to include this add-on to your vehicle insurance.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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