What are the types of car engines?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘What are the types of car engines?’, and cover topics like classification of car engines based on different categories, and the application of car engines.

What are the types of car engines?

These are the various types of car engines that have been produced to date:

  • Straight engine
  • In-line engine
  • Flat engine
  • V-engine
  • Hybrid engine
  • Electric engine

Classification of car engines based on different categories

Car engines use an internal combustion engine to produce power and stay in motion. These engines can be classified into the following categories based on their layout and purpose.

Cycle of operation

Depending upon the cycle of operation, car engines can be classified as:

  • Two-stroke cycle engines
  • Four-stroke cycle engines

Cycle of combustion

Car engines can be classified into the following types depending on the cycle of combustion:

  • Otto cycle engine( combustion is done at constant volume)
  • Diesel cycle engine(combustion at constant pressure)
  • Dual combustion or semi-diesel cycle engine(combustion is done partly at constant volume and partly at constant pressure)

Cylinder arrangement

Car engines can be classified as follows depending on the cylinder arrangement.

Single-cylinder engine

The engine has only one cylinder and a piston connected to the crankshaft.

In-line or straight engines

The cylinders are positioned in a straight line one behind the other along the length of the crankshaft.


This engine comprises two cylinder banks or two in-line engines that are inclined at an angle to each other and are mounted on a common crankshaft.

Most of the bigger automobiles use the 8-cylinder V-engines that have 4-cylinders in-line on each side of the V.

Opposed cylinder engine

This engine comprises two banks of cylinders opposite to each other on a common crankshaft, or a V-engine with 180 degrees V. These are common on small aircraft and some automobiles with an even number of cylinders.


This type of engine is the same as a V-engine except with three banks of cylinders mounted on a common crankshaft. They are not common, however, some have been developed exclusively for racing automobiles.

Opposed piston engine

This type of engine comprises two pistons in each cylinder with the combustion chamber in the center between the pistons.

A single combustion process comprises two simultaneous power strokes, with each piston being pushed away from the center and delivering power to a separate crankshaft at each end of this cylinder.

Radial Engine

A radial engine is a type of IC engine that works in a reciprocating manner. The cylinders of a radial engine protrude outwards from a centralized crankcase.

A radial engine can be summarized in the following ways:

  • It is an engine with pistons positioned in a circular plane around the central crankcase.
  • The connecting rods of the pistons are connected to a master rod which, in turn, is connected to the crankshaft
  • In a radial engine, the bank of cylinders always has an odd number of cylinders ranging from 3 to 13 or even more.
  • Operating on a four-stroke cycle, every other cylinder fires and has a power stroke as the crankshaft rotates, providing a smooth operation
  • Other applications of radial engines lie in large-sized propeller-driven aircraft.
  • Large ship engines also use radial engines with up to 54 cylinders, and six banks of 9 cylinders each.

According to their application

The types of car engines based on their application can be classified as follows:

  • Stationary engine
  • Portable engine
  • Marine engine
  • Automobile engine
  • Aero-engine

According to engine speed

Engines can be classified as follows depending on the engine speed:

  • Low-speed engine
  • Medium-speed engine
  • High-speed engine

According to the method of ignition

Car engines can be classified as follows based on their method of ignition:

  • Spark-ignition engine
  • Compression-ignition engine

According to the cooling method

Car engines based on their cooling method can be classified as follows:

  • Air-cooled engine
  • Water-cooled engine

According to the type of governor used

Car engines can be classified into the following types on the basis of the governor used.

  • Hit and miss governed engine
  • Quality governed engine
  • Quantity governed engine

According to the valve arrangement

The car engines can be divided into the following types depending on the types of valves used:

  • Overhead valve engine
  • L-head type engine
  • T-head type engine
  • F-head type engine

According to the air intake process

Car engines according to their air intake process can be classified as follows:

  • Naturally aspirated engines
  • Supercharged engines
  • Turbocharged engines
  • Crankcase compressed engines

According to the type of fuel used

Car engines can be classified into the following types depending on the type of fuel used:

  • Oil engine
  • Petrol engine
  • LPG engine
  • Kerosene engine
  • Diesel engine

Application of car engines

These are the various applications of different car engines.

Small two-stroke petrol engines

These engines are employed where simplicity and low cost are primary considerations and are generally used in motorcycles. They also find their applications in small electric generating and pumping sets.

Small four-stroke petrol engines

These types of engines are primarily used in automobiles. They also find their use in pumping and electric generating systems.

Four-stroke diesel engines

Thes types of engines find their applications in the following:

  • Construction
  • Tractors
  • Boats and ships
  • Jeeps, cars, and taxis
  • Oil drilling jigs

Two-stroke diesel engines

These types of engines are able to generate very high power and are usually employed for ship propulsion and have bore diameters above 60cm.

Radial piston engines

Radial engines are often used in small aircraft. In modern large aircraft, instead of these engines, gas turbine plants such as turboprop engines or turbojet engines and gas turbine engines are used.

Research has shown the most powerful engines that have been used in production cars.


This blog post addressed the question, ‘What are the types of car engines’. 

We understood the various types of car engines according to their different purposes and layouts. Furthermore, the applications of the different types of car engines have also been discussed. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the types of car engines?

What are the most common car engines?

The most common type of car engine in the market is in-line engines also known as straight engines, characterized by the straight placement of the cylinders one after another in a straight line.

What’s a car Turbo?

The turbocharger is a component formed of a turbine and an inlet valve that sucks in hot engine exhaust gases after combustion and recirculates them back to the engine after cooling it to provide a boost in power.

Is a 4-cylinder engine good?

For cars, 4-cylinder engines are considered the best choice as they offer an equilibrium of power and efficiency.