When asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have,’ drivers will have to locate and remember the VIN number – the vehicle identification number. The VIN is globally used to identify a vehicle, using a 17-digit-long code that is made up of numbers and letters. The VIN consists of three specific parts that provide you, an auto bodyworker, or a dealership with information about your specific unit.
- Your VIN’s first three digits identify the world manufacturer – ex: Ford, Volkswagen, or Chevrolet.
- The second six digits represent the vehicle descriptor section (model) – ex: Ford Bronco, Volkswagen Beetle, or Chevrolet Tahoe.
- The final eight characters correspond to the vehicle identifier section (individual information for your specific unit) – ex: Built in 2006 in Chicago, four-cylinder engine, base-level trim option, etc.
To get an idea of what engine my car has, you need to know the different variants of car engines. Understanding what type of engine you have ensures you make smart decisions about repairs and replacements in your vehicle to keep your car operating at a high level for as long as possible.
How does my engine work?
In most modern vehicles on the road today, drivers will most often find there is a four-stroke engine located under the hood. In SUVs, cars, trucks, and vans, the four-stroke engine is the most common type when asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have?’
A four-stroke engine refers to the four-step cycle that the internal mechanism will go through to power your car. An internal combustion engine is necessary for generating the spark to power your vehicle.
- Internal combustion means igniting the proper air and fuel ratio to create a small and controlled explosion in the engine’s cylinders.
Car engines are built with engine cylinders – the engine cylinders are metal tubes with a spark plug and two valves. Inside the cylinders are the pistons – the pistons are attached to the crankshaft, sliding in different directions to harness the internal explosion’s energy.
When the spark ignites the gas, the pistons turn the crankshaft. The crankshaft motion moves the energy to the gearbox, powering the car forward and generating the power necessary to operate your vehicle.
The four steps of the internal combustion engine:
- Piston is pulled into the cylinder – at the same time, the engine valve pushes the air and fuel mixture into the engine’s cylinder.
- Next, the valve closes, and the piston returns to the original resting position. The movement of the piston compresses the air and fuel mixture, getting it ready for combustion.
- Once the piston’s movement is complete, the spark plug ignites and creates a hot gas force. This creation of gas moves the piston back down, turning the engine crankshaft.
- Finally, the crankshaft’s force creates a continuously-turning motion and moves the piston back to the starting position.
What engine code does my car have?
Drivers may need to know the answer to ‘what engine code does my car have’ when figuring out what engine does my car have. By knowing the codes, you can identify the specific engine type located in your vehicle.
Auto stores almost always ask the year, make, and model of your vehicle. By identifying the two key codes, you can provide your autobody store or mechanic with additional information to help you buy the right parts and keep repair prices as low as possible.
- Identify the model year and engine type in your vehicle using the VIN – the vehicle identification number.
- The VIN is almost always located on the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side.
What size engine does my car have?
When asking yourself, ‘what size engine does my car have,’ you need to know the most common engine layouts in your vehicle. This way, you can find out the answer to the elusive question of ‘what engine does my car have?’
- Inline or Straight Engine: the inline or straight engine is the most common type found in vehicles today. The cylinders are upright, vertical, and side-by-sid3. This layout makes the engine extremely effective and compact, taking up little space in your car.
- V Engine: The V-engine looks exactly how it sounds – in a V formation. The cylinders are positioned at a 60-degree angle, increasing the internal space and the ability to fit a large number of cylinders. These V engines are usually found in high-performance cars when asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have.’
- Flat Engine: A flat engine is also known as a ‘boxer’ engine due to the horizontal layout shape. Flat engines are usually not very common, and mainly found in only Porsche cars when asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have.’
What engine does my car have? Are there different cylinder configurations?
When asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have,’ you need to know the layout of the cylinders based on the varying engine type. Before there were fuel injection engines and turbocharged engine options, the number of cylinders would be the deciding factor in how much horsepower your car could produce.
- Fuel injection is the process of direct injection of fuel to the combustion chamber. This process is different when compared to the process of a carburetor. This internal component uses gravity from the pistons to move the air and fuel ratio into the combustion chamber.
- Fuel injection is usually used in diesel engines to provide more power with less energy, create a smooth throttle motion, and provide an enhanced fuel economy compared to gasoline engines.
- The turbocharger adds more power and compression into the chamber, increasing power output.
The most common type of engine figuration is a four-cylinder engine in an engine layout.
- When asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have,’ the answer will most often be this type of engine. The four-cylinder mechanism is found in most mid-range cars that are sold at dealerships and used car locations. This basic engine type provides a favorable power output while still remaining small enough to fit in most family and everyday cars.
The less common type of engine when asking yourself, ‘what engine does my car have’ is a two-cylinder car. Small two-cylinder options are usually found in eco-friendly cars and hybrid options.
When asking yourself or a mechanic, the third type of engine, ‘what kind of engine does my car have’ is a three-cylinder engine. The three-cylinder option is a straight layout typically found in small cars, hatchbacks, and smaller sedans. The fuel economy is the best positive of this engine when compared to the other two choices.
Another type of engine layout is a five-cylinder engine. Five-cylinder engines are very rare when asking a mechanic ‘what kind of engine does my car have’, since this type is usually found in Volvo cars due to the engine vibrations.
You may also find that your car has a six-cylinder engine if you own a high-end performance or luxury sports car. Usually, six-cylinder engines are found in a V or straight engine layout with turbocharger add-ons to create some of the most powerful cars on the market today.
Lastly, you may find that your vehicle has an 8-cylinder engine when asking, ‘what kind of engine does my car have.’ Eight-cylinder engines are almost always found in supercars due to their massive power output, acceleration, and performance qualities. Typically found in a V formation, you will find these eight-cylinder engines are either V8, V10, or V12.
What engine coolant does my car need?
Engine coolant is an extremely important liquid that affects your vehicle’s performance and your engine’s longevity. Engine coolant is a liquid mixture of water and antifreeze housed in your vehicle’s radiator to help prevent engine overheating and freezing depending on the weather conditions.
When asking yourself, ‘what kind of engine does my car have,’ the answer can affect the type of coolant you use. You may need to ask your mechanic, ‘what engine coolant does my car need ‘to keep your engine operating at a high level. Keep in mind that different vehicles require different coolants. There Are special types and varieties for each kind of vehicle, ranging from different engine cylinder options, diesel and gasoline choices, and the manufacturer of your car.
It’s very important to know the differences in each coolant type so you can find the answer to ‘what engine coolant does my car need.’
- IAT Coolant – The most common type of coolant for engines in cars today is the Inorganic Additive Technology, also known as the OAT coolant. This type of liquid prevents corrosion and is time-tested in many vehicles.
- Dex-Cool Coolant – Another option when asking yourself ‘what kind of engine coolant does my car need’ is a mixture of antifreeze/coolant used in GM vehicles.
- Coolant for Older Cars – the third option when asking a mechanic ‘what kind of engine coolant does my car need’ is a coolant that contains a special additive to help extend the lifespan of higher mileage and older vehicles.
We have included a guide to help you decide the right color of coolant to purchase based on the make and model of vehicle you have. This way, when you visit the mechanic and ask ‘what kind of engine coolant does my car need,’ you have an idea of what color coolant to look for.
- Green – If you have an older vehicle, using an Inorganic Additive Technology coolant is the best choice.
- Orange – if you own a GM, Saab, or VW car, using an organic acid technology called OAT is the right answer when asking ‘what kind of engine coolant does my car need.’
- Yellow – Yellow coolant is a combination of silicates and organic acids that form the Hybrid OAT coolant, a great choice for Ford, Chrysler, and European vehicles.
- Turquoise – If you need a turquoise coolant or antifreeze, this is a Hybrid Oat and Phosphate-free option that works well for BMW, Volvo, Tesla, or Mini-cars.
- Pink or Blue – when asking yourself, ‘what kind of engine does my car have,’ you need to know the proper type of coolant for your car. If you own a Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, KIA, or other vehicle produced on the Asian market, using a Phosphated HOAT coolant is the best option.
- Purple – The last type of coolant is a purple liquid known as a Silicated HOAT. The Si-Oat coolant is a smart choice for car owners of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, VW, or Porsche cars.
What engine oil does my car have?
There are different kinds of engine oil when asking yourself ‘what engine oil does my car have.’ to get an idea of ‘what kind of engine does my car have,’ you first need to know what oil and coolant to feed your engine to keep it running at a high level without any longevity issues!
- Synthetic Motor Oil – Synthetic motor oil is uniform in shape, helping prevent extremely high temperatures and low temperatures, keeping an even keel through many performance conditions. Synthetic oils are usually formulated with high additives, usually increasing the total cost and increasing the purity and quality of the oil.
- Synthetic Blend Motor Oil – synthetic blend oil is a mixture of synthetic and conventional oil for added oxidative resistance, prevention against very high or low temperatures, and coming in at a lower price than just synthetic motor oil.
- High-Mileage Motor Oil – High-mileage motor oil is formulated for late vehicles or with newer vehicles that already have high mileage on their odometer, usually coming in at over 75,000 miles. High mileage motor oil is specifically designed to help prevent oil leaks and oil burn-offs in older and worn-down engines.
- Conventional Motor Oil – conventional motor oil is the traditional type of oil that is available for use with all viscosities, quality levels, and engine types. When asking ‘what kind of engine oil does my car have,’ using conventional motor oil is almost always an option.
What are the engine motor oil designations?
When asking yourself, ‘what kind of engine oil does my car have,’ you need to understand the motor oil grade designations. The motor oil classifications have been set forth by the Society of Automotive Engineers that classify oil based on the viscosity level.
- Viscosity is the resistance to flow, with thin liquids having a low viscosity level and thick fluids, like sludge or sticky substances, having a high viscosity.
The Bottom Line
Car owners need to find the vehicle identification number located at the bottom of the windshield to find out key information about their vehicle – look here to find the world manufacturer, model type, and the answer to ‘what kind of engine does my car have.’