How do Car Engines Work? What Are Their Types?


10 June,2024


10 June,2024

What captivates you in a car? Is it the glossy body? The diamond-cut alloy wheels? Or the captivating DRL headlights? While all these features seem attractive, there is one car part that fundamentally defines the vehicle. It's the engine, the heart of the car. It works relentlessly to give you the performance and mileage you enjoy on the road. In this blog, we will explore how a car engine works, its types, and which is the best engine for you. So, if you are looking to know more about automobile engines, read right ahead!

car engine mechanics and types

How Does a Car Engine Work?

In this section, we have discussed the four stages involved in the functioning of a four-stroke car engine.

1. Intake: Depending on the driver’s throttle input, air is released into the engine via the intake valve. Simultaneously, fuel is also dispersed into it. Thus, creating a combustible mixture.


2. Compression: The piston moves upward, reducing the volume of the car engine cylinder and compressing the air-fuel mixture in it. This compression increases temperature and pressure, creating an adequate environment for combustion.


3. Power: A spark plug creates a spark, setting the compressed air and fuel aflame. This explosion creates mechanical power that turns the engine's crankshaft. Consequently, the car's wheels are set in motion.


4. Exhaust: Waste is produced during the burning of gas. This waste is passed out through the car's exhaust valve. Before exit, the gas is passed through the exhaust system to filter out harmful emissions.


Types of Car Engines

In this section, we will explore the different types of car engine options available. Let’s start with the most common types.


1. Petrol Engine: This engine type is the most common in India. Its popularity could be attributed to its simple and inexpensive production. Nevertheless, it is important to note that petrol engines may offer less mileage compared to some of the other engine variants.

2. Diesel Engine: This engine type is another popular option in the country. It generally provides better mileage than its petrol counterpart but produces more emissions.


3. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Engine: This type of engine uses natural gas instead of petrol. It generally offers better fuel efficiency and lesser emissions than the petrol and diesel alternatives.


4. Naturally Aspirated Engine: This engine type uses internal combustion technology. Although it is a reliable option, its power output is generally lower than that of other models.

5. Turbocharged Engine: This engine uses turbines to increase the airflow into the engine. Thereby increasing the vehicle’s power and efficiency.


6. Electric Motor: As the name indicates, electric motors are powered electrically. However, although they are efficient, their range is limited.


7. Hybrid Engine: A hybrid engine is a mixture of an electric motor with a petrol/diesel engine. Vehicles with such a setup enjoy the benefits of both an electric motor and a naturally aspirated engine.


8. Inline Engine: The cylinders of this engine are arranged in a straight line, hence the name. The inline engine is relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture. Nevertheless, it is not as stable as some of the other engine models.


9. V-Shaped Engine: As the name suggests, these engines have cylinders arranged in a V-shape. The V-shaped engine is generally better balanced than the inline engine but also costs more.


10. Flat Engine: This engine type has its cylinders arranged horizontally. It is placed in the lower part of the vehicle, offering better handling. Nonetheless, because of its expensive manufacturing cost, it is not preferred by many manufacturers.


11. Two-Stroke Engine: This type of engine requires only two revolutions of the crankshaft to produce power. They are typically easier and lighter than the 4-stroke engine. However, they are less fuel-efficient and produce more harmful emissions.


12. W Engine: This engine's cylinders are arranged in the shape of a W, hence the name. Although the W Engine produces significant power, it is costly and complex to produce.


Car Engine Configuration Types

Did you know that an engine's power and fuel efficiency are influenced by the number of cylinders and their configuration? In this section, we will discuss the common engine configuration types.

1. Twin-Cylinder Engine: Due to its low power output, this cylinder configuration is generally found mostly in bikes. The famous Tata Nano is a rare case of this engine configuration being used in a car.

2. Three-Cylinder Engine: These engines are known for the gurgle-like sound they produce. The sound is a consequence of an odd firing sequence and vibration produced during combustion. They are generally employed on hatchbacks and some compact SUVs.


3. Four-Cylinder Engine: These types of engines produce better power and mileage as compared to the previous two engine types. They are usually used in Inline layout engine configurations and are coupled with turbochargers.


4. Five-cylinder engine: This engine type is usually found in luxury cars. The odd number of cylinders in these vehicles produces a peculiar sound called “warbling.”


5. Six-cylinder engine: This engine type is found mostly in sports cars. It usually produces a high-pitched sound when in use. Six-cylinder engines are generally twinned with a turbocharger or supercharger to generate massive power.


6. Eight Cylinders and above: These types of engines are generally used only in supercars. They are usually found in a V-engine engine layout and produce sounds ranging from a roar to a squeal because of their supercharger.


Which is the best Car Engine?

The best car engine for you will depend on your requirements. If you are a car enthusiast and are looking for performance, we suggest going for cars with five-cylinder engines and above. If you have a family and want to transport them from point A to point B, we suggest opting for the four-cylinder option. However, if you travel solo, you could consider cars with three or two-cylinder engines. Whichever engine configuration you choose, we recommend securing your car and its engine with a Shriram Car Insurance Policy. That way you can drive with peace of mind knowing that your car is financially protected



1. How does a petrol engine work?

A petrol engine functions by creating an explosion that moves the pistons and a car, ultimately resulting in the turning of the wheels. This explosion is produced by combustion caused by the ignition of air and petrol.


2. What is the lifespan of a petrol engine?

A petrol engine’s lifespan varies based on driving habits, engine quality and maintenance.


3. Why are turbo/superchargers used in already powerful car engines?

Turbo/superchargers are used in car engines to provide drivers with power on demand. Drivers seeking power and performance from their drives generally purchase cars with these types of engines.

Save up-to the 85% off on your car Insurance

Save up-to 85% off on your Car Insurance

Save up-to the 85% off on your car Insurance

Back to TopBack to top of the pageBack to top of the page

IRDAI Consumer Education:- Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. IRDAI Registration Number - 137. CIN No. U66010RJ2006PLC029979. BEWARE OF SPURIOUS PHONE CALLS AND FICTITIOUS/FRAUDULENT OFFERS. IRDAI clarifies to public that IRDAI or its officials do not involve in activities like sale of any kind of insurance or financial products nor invest premiums. IRDAI does not announce any bonus. Public receiving such phone calls are requested to lodge a police complaint along with details of phone call, number.

Terms and Conditions |Refund and Cancellation© 2023 Shriram General Insurance. All rights reserved.