Cylinder Configuration

Cylinder Configuration Rating  :      

The simplest form of an internal combustion chamber is a single cylinder but for smooth running, multiple cylinders are required. Most cars have at least four cylinders but compact cars like the Maruti 800 and Alto get by on three cylinders. The cylinders can be laid out in various configurations and have to balance the conflicting requirements of mechanical smoothness and a compact size.

The ‘in-line’ engine has the cylinders arranged in a single plane and is almost universal with most engines that have up to four cylinders. An in-line six is longer and heavier but it is significantly smoother and vibration is negligible. They give the best balance of all in-line engines used in cars and it is for this reason that BMW still uses in-line sixes despite their packaging disadvantages.
Horizontally Opposed
The horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine like on the Chevrolet Forester is more compact and better balanced than the in-line layout but these advantages are offset by the difficulty of access for working on the engines. Even changing the spark plugs is a major exercise.
The V-engine layout where two banks of cylinders are arranged in a V-shape is generally used in engines with more than four cylinders. Of the eight-cylinder variants, the V-8 layout is almost universally used. It is a compact well-balanced engine with even power and torque delivery. The main advantage of the V-engine is that it can be made shorter than an in-line design and the shorter crankshaft is more rigid. Some earlier cars had ‘straight eights’ (eight cylinders in-line) but their long crankshafts were prone to vibration at high speeds.
Two V's joined together leads to a W formation. Most 12 cylinder engine use a W format for space and engine efficiencies.

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