It is lunchtime at work, and your colleagues talk about their cars. As a proud car owner, you join in discussing car speed and maintenance costs. Then the conversation switches to the number of cylinders in a vehicle, and you start to get confused. You are thinking – what is a cylinder and how many cylinders does my car have?
This may not be your exact scenario. However, if you’re here, it’s safe to say that you’d like to know how many cylinders your car has. For starters, your car cylinder is the powerhouse of your car, and this is a chamber in the engine where fuel is burned and transformed into the energy you need to get your vehicle moving.
Your car may have four, six, or eight cylinders. Sometimes, the configuration of the cylinders can give you an idea of how many cylinders you have in your car. But this isn’t always accurate. For instance, some 4-cylinder vehicles have the same configuration as 6-cylinder cars.
How can you then find out the number of cylinders your car has? Let’s show you a more accurate way to know.
How to Determine the Number of Cylinders in Your Car in 3 Easy Steps
Generally, every cylinder has one spark plug attached to it. So, your car will have as many spark plugs as cylinders. However, because the spark plugs are usually hidden, it is almost impossible to count them. Well, except you pull your car engine apart.
Spark plugs have wires, though, and these wires are visible. So, if you can count the spark plug wires, you can know how many cylinders your car has. Let’s show you how to do this in 3 easy steps.
1. Open the Hood of Your Car
The hood covers the engine of your car. So, to get access to this section and the spark plug wires, you need to open the hood.
2. Locate the Spark Plug Wires
The plug wires in your car will either be on top of the engine or at the side. The cables are typically blue, black, or red and may also be numbered.
Numbers on your plug wires will help you determine how many cylinders you have. But if yours aren’t numbered, then the next step will guide you to your answer.
3. Count the Spark Plug Wires
Now that you’ve been able to locate the spark plug wires, all you need to do is count them. The number of wires you see is the number of cylinders your car has.
Find out the difference: Platinum Vs. Iridium Spark Plugs
What Does the Number of Cylinders in A Car Mean?
The cylinders in your car form a crucial part of the engine. Each cylinder has a piston and two valves known as the inlet and outlet. Whenever you start the ignition on your car, the piston in each cylinder moves in an upward and downward motion. This reciprocating motion of the valves is what causes the vehicle to start moving.
Generally, vehicles with more cylinders will produce more power. On the other hand, cars with fewer cylinders will consume less fuel. But, there’s more to a car’s efficiency than the number of cylinders in it and the amount of power it produces. The configuration of the cylinders also matters.
Throughout the history of cylinders, there have been three configuration types. They are the flat, straight line (inline), and V-shaped configurations.
The inline configuration is the oldest and most basic of the three arrangements. Inline engines are usually 4-cylinder engines and they are relatively lightweight. Engines like this also cause fewer vibrations, and this makes driving smooth.
V-shaped arrangements usually come with 6 or 8 cylinders. They tend to weigh more than the 4-cylinder engines. But the tradeoff is their compact design. V-shaped engines take up as much longitudinal length. What’s more? Because there are more cylinders in the arrangement, they produce more power, with a V8 producing more than a V6. They are ideal for heavy vehicles because more energy is required to move cars of the sort.
Flat arrangements often have 4 or 6 cylinders. In this arrangement, the cylinders are laid flat, reducing the center of gravity. A lower center of gravity, when compared to other configurations, causes less vibration and makes cars with flat arrangements easier to handle.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a 6-Cylinder the Same as A V6?
Yes, a 6-cylinder is the same as a V6. 4-cylinder engines and V6 engines are the most popular types of car engines. However, unlike the 4-cylinder engines, which have a straight line arrangement, 6-cylinder engines are configured in a V shape. For this reason, people tend to use the terms V6 and 6-cylinder interchangeably, as they both mean the same thing.
2. Do More Cylinders Mean More Gas?
Vehicles with more cylinders produce more power. What’s more? They go faster and consume more fuel than those with fewer cylinders.
So, if you own a V6 engine and a 4-cylinder engine car, you will spend more fuel money on the V6 than on the 4-cylinder. You may also spend more for premium insurance on the V6. So, if fuel economy is a top priority for you, you are better off with a 4-cylinder vehicle.
3. Can You Change the Number of Cylinders in A Car?
Changing the number of cylinders in your car is tempting, mainly because more cylinders mean more power and a faster ride. For instance, if you have a V4 engine, you may want to change it to a V6.
While it is possible to change a V4 engine in a car to a V6 engine, it will cost you a lot of time. More so, you will need to be highly skilled in auto mechanics or know someone who is. Either way, you will spend a lot of money to make the swap. And in most cases, the cost is often sufficient to buy another vehicle. We should also mention that the exchange may fail, causing you to lose money.
So, instead of swapping your car engine, you will be better off using the money to buy a neatly-used V6. You also get to save time and eliminate the risk of a failed swap.
4. Does the Number of Cylinders Affect the Sound?
The number of cylinders in an engine may play a role in the sound produced. But the most significant factors that affect a vehicle’s sound are the muffler and the type of exhaust system.
For example, motorcycles with single-cylinder engines are comparatively louder than everyday cars, with more cylinders. But racing cars often have up to six cylinders, yet they make a lot of noise because they don’t have mufflers in them. So, the number of cylinders alone cannot provide a reasonable estimate of how loud an engine can get.
Cylinders are found in a vehicle’s engine, and they produce the power that the car needs to move. So, the more cylinders a car has, the more power it will deliver. This factor also translates to an increase in speed.
To know the number of cylinders in your car, open your vehicle’s hood, locate the spark plug wires, and count the number of plug wires. The number of plug wires you see is the number of cylinders your car has.