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Cylinder Deactivation: What Is It and How Does It Help Save Fuel? 

Cylinder Deactivation: What Is It and How Does It Help Save Fuel? 

Cylinder deactivation technology refers to deactivating some of the cylinders in your engine when the car runs on light loads. The technology helps save a ton on fuel consumption by preventing combustion from happening at some cylinders. 

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Fuel consumption is one of the biggest struggles when it comes to driving cars daily. As a result, automakers compete yearly to create new smart techniques to help save on fuel consumption. Some of these techniques include direct injection, turbocharging, valve timing, and finally so under the activation.

Cylinder deactivation is one of the most innovative techniques generated by automakers to help minimize the usage of all cylinders in the engine when it's not needed. 

If you're not familiar with this technique, this article is here for you! The article highlights the main idea behind cylinder deactivation technology and helps you understand how this technology helps your vehicle save fuel consumption. 

What is cylinder deactivation? 

Cylinder deactivation is one of the new techniques to save on fuel consumption. Sometimes people refer to this technique as the variable displacement or the cylinder on demand technique.

The whole idea behind the cylinder deactivation technology is to stop using some of the cylinders when it's not needed and when your vehicle is driving under like loads.

Automakers thought that if their required energy can be generated using a smaller number of cylinders, why use all of them and waste fuel? That's why they came up with innovative techniques to help them pause or freeze the flow of fuel to some cylinders whenever the vehicle is detected to run under light loads.

The technology relies on, and advanced techniques to help the internal computer detects whether your vehicle requires a lot of energy or not. Once the computer detects that your car doesn't need that much energy, it will automatically freeze some of the fuel lines and allow the combustion to happen in certain cylinders, not in all of them. Conversely, when the computer detects that additional energy is needed, it will immediately switch to full power mode and activate all cylinders.

Cylinder deactivation is usually applied to some vehicles with six or eight cylinders. For example, you might find this technology available at some of the common Mercedes vehicles like the Mercedes AMG E 63 S vehicle. It also is suitable for some other vehicles like Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. 

Recently, the cylinder deactivation technology was applied to some other vehicles with fewer cylinders. For example, the new Fiesta St from forwarding can go from three cylinders to two cylinders whenever it's running under low or light loads. Similarly, Audi vehicles started incorporating this technique to help save on fuel, although they don't have more than four cylinders in their engines. 

One of the best features of the cylinder deactivation technology is that you won't notice it. In other words, when the car switches between activating and deactivating some of the cylinders, you will not notice it, and it will be as smooth as possible because it relies on some advanced innovative techniques. 

How can cylinder deactivation save on fuel consumption? 

Since the whole idea behind cylinder deactivation is to eliminate fuel flow to unnecessary cylinders, it can save a ton on fuel consumption. In other words, if a certain vehicle runs on eight cylinders, stops using two of them, and drops them down to six cylinders, you will see a significant drop in fuel consumption.

Keep in mind that cylinder deactivation does not mean an energy reduction. In other words, your vehicle will not lose any power when needed. The idea is to deactivate some of the cylinders when the extra energy is not required, especially when running the vehicle on light loads. 

Why is cylinder deactivation bad? 

Despite the amazing features coming with the cylinder deactivation, it's important to note that the technology comes with its drawbacks. Therefore, it looks like it also looks at some of the negative outcomes you might face when deactivating your vehicle’s cylinders: 

  • Excessive oil consumption 

One of the first drawbacks of cylinder deactivation technologies in many vehicles like Jeep, Chrysler, and dodge is excessive oil consumption.

In fact, some of the larger automakers like GM released some documents addressing the issues with excessive oil consumption associated with cylinder deactivation. In addition, they provide some guidance on what needs to be addressed and checked to resolve oil consumption. For example, they recommended checking the PCV system to ensure that the oil is pulled properly. They also recommended replacing the valves on top of the different Units. 

  • Engine misfiring 

Although it might sound straightforward that the vehicle will automatically deactivate some of the cylinders, the process might involve hiccups. For example, if the engine's oil is dirty or has some contamination, it might cause the cylinders to be sticky. 

Sticky cylinders can be very challenging to get deactivated by the engine's computer. As a result, the engine will repeatedly deactivate the cylinders without any good results. Thus, it's not surprising to deal with the engine misfiring in vehicles equipped with cylinder deactivation techniques. 

Unfortunately, engine misfiring related to cylinder deactivation is not easily fixed, especially in vehicles like Honda Odyssey, where the problem was reported the most. 

  • Obvious transition 

While automakers are trying very hard to make deactivating cylinders as smooth as possible, several people reported noticing and feeling the transition.

Automaker took the complaint seriously and worked hard to provide some additional software updates to help reduce the feeling of cylinder deactivation transition.

For example, some of the added software updates included addressing the timing and different delivery strategies. Other techniques and software updates targeted the frequency of when these lenders are activated and deactivated. 

It's hard to say that all cylinder deactivation techniques are now not noticed because automakers are still working on making it as smooth as possible. 

Can cylinder deactivation be turned off?

Unfortunately, if you decided to go with cylinder deactivation, you can't simply turn it off. Instead, you will most likely need to go back to the manufacturer. The process involves very complicated steps requiring going back to the ECM and the PCM to remove this technology. 

How effective is cylinder deactivation?

Cylinder deactivation is very effective in reducing fuel and reducing the emissions of harmful gases. According to some experts, switching to cylinder deactivation reduces the emissions high somewhere between 4 and 10%, which is a huge percentage of saving the air from pollution.

Regarding the cylinder deactivation impact on fuel consumption, experts showed that applying this technique reduces fuel consumption by about 40%, which is a huge amount add can save a lot on gas. 

Keep in mind that the activation comes with its own drawbacks, which means that it can introduce some mechanical problems that you might be ready for or not, which means there will be some additional repair costs you need to account for when evaluating whether cylinder deactivation is a good technique or not. 

Can you install cylinder deactivation? 

Cylinder deactivation is not an add-on option to your engine. The technology requires a complete redesign to the cylinders of an engine block. As we indicated before, doing cylinder deactivation, you freeze disapply of fuel to certain cylinders, which means that the technology involves some changes to the pumping hoses and the entire fuel system. 

Does cylinder deactivation hurt the engine?

Unfortunately, cylinder deactivation brings some drawbacks to the vehicle, as we indicated before. Some of these drawbacks are additional pressure on the engine to consume more fuel than before. Thus, the cylinder deactivation helps reduce fuel consumption but does not necessarily improve oil consumption. 

Without the right level of oil, your vehicle's engine will not operate properly because it requires a certain level of lubrication to prevent overheating. As we already know, engine overheating is one of the worst enemies your engine might face because it results in engine self-destruction immediately within a short time frame. 

What year did Chevy start cylinder deactivation? 

Surprisingly, cylinder deactivation is not every new technology introduced by many large automakers like Chevy. However, Chevy is incorporating this technology since 2005, which is a couple of days ago. The technology was introduced as part of the active fuel management cylinder deactivation system for this automaker. 

What engines have cylinder deactivation? 

According to automotive experts, the cylinder deactivation technology can be applied to many V6 and V8 engines except for the Honda V6 engine. 

Most automakers do not commonly use cylinder deactivation technology as they prefer to use some other methods for reducing fuel consumption. 

Does Ford use cylinder deactivation? 

According to the automaker, they incorporated the cylinder deactivation technology into their V8 engines in the 2021 F 150 vehicles. They also use the same technology on the 5.0-liter engines to help save on fuel consumption. 

Does Ford 6.2 have cylinder deactivation? 

No, it does not fear it. As we indicated before, cylinder deactivation is a very effective technique for vehicles targeting light loads. However, since the Ford 6.2 V8 engine usually exists in heavy-duty vehicles, it's not worth installing such technology because it's rare for this type of vehicle to have and deal with light loads. Thus, the automaker relies on other techniques to help save on fuel consumption. 

What GM vehicles have cylinder deactivation?

Since the cylinder deactivation technique is very helpful in reducing fuel economy and it also comes with its drawbacks, you need to know whether the vehicle has this technology or not. So let's take a closer look at some of the common GM vehicles that have the cylinder deactivation technique added

  • Cadillac Escalade with 6.2L V-8 L86
  • Cadillac CTS with 3.6L V-6 LGX
  • Cadillac XT5 with 3.6L V-6 LGX
  • Cadillac ATS with 3.6L V-6 LGX
  • K2 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with 4.3L V-8 LV3
  • K2 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with 5.3L V-8 L83
  • K2 Chevrolet Suburban with 5.3L V-8 L83
  • K2 Chevrolet Tahoe with 5.3L V-8 L83
  • K2 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with 6.2L V-8 L86
  • K2 GMC Sierra 1500 with 4.3L V-8 LV3
  • K2 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL with 5.3L V-8 L83
  • K2 GMC Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali with 6.2L V-8 L86
  • K2 GMC Sierra 1500 with 5.3L V-8 L83
  • K2 GMC Sierra 1500 with 6.2L V-8 L86


Fuel consumption is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to any combustion engine. As a result, automakers compete to create some innovative techniques to help save on fuel economy. Some of these impressive techniques include cylinder deactivation technology.

Cylinder deactivation refers to the technology where some of the cylinders are deactivated during light loads to help reduce fuel consumption as much as possible. Although the technique is incredible and provides huge benefits to fuel consumption, it has drawbacks like engine misfiring, obvious transition, and excessive oil consumption.

If you notice that your vehicle consumes a lot of fuel as cylinder deactivation did not help, you might have some other issues causing the fuel consumption. Unfortunately, some of these issues might require very expensive repairs, which means that you'd better go with selling your car instead of wasting your time and money trying to fix it. Cash Cars Buyer is one of the fewest companies that accept your car despite its type or condition. 

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