Car Engine Types

The types of engines you'll learn about in this section include diesel, rotary, HEMI, stirling and quasiturbine, to name a few. You'll also see photos and animated images of the technologies we explore.

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What does 2.4 liter mean in the context of an engine?

This may sound silly but on the back of my car there is a little sign that says "2.4 liter" and every morning I see that and wonder "What does that mean?" So what does it mean?


How Stirling Engines Work

The Stirling engine is a heat engine that is vastly different from the internal-combustion engine in your car. It has the potential to be more efficient than most types of engines, but it hasn't made it into mass production yet. Find out why.

How Rotary Engines Work

A rotary engine is an internal combustion engine, but it's not like the one in most cars. Learn about the unique rotary setup and how it compares performance-wise to a piston engine.

Is there a way to compare a human being to an engine in terms of efficiency? For example can you calculate the equivalent "miles per gallon" (kilometers per liter) rating for a person riding a bicycle?

Is it true that a diesel engine can operate under water while a gasoline engine cannot?

Diesel powered Humvees are capable of running in "extreme" conditions, and these conditions can include deep submersion during river fording. Is it only possible to go underwater with a diesel powered vehicle?

I have read the articles on diesel and gasoline engines. Several of my friends drive Mercedes turbodiesels and I have seen several diesel hummers. I was wondering that if diesel engines are more efficient and use cheaper fuel why don't all cars use diesel?

There are three different engine configurations commonly used in automobiles -- inline, V, and flat. Learn the difference and find out what designers look at when deciding which configuration to use in a car.

How Car Engines Work

It's the reason you can put the pedal to the metal and go from zero to 60 in seconds. But to the uninitiated, an engine can look like a jumble of metal and wires.

Mazda has been using this type of engine in some of its cars for several years. Learn what a Miller-Cycle engine is and how it works.

How Diesel Two-Stroke Engines Work

Take diesel-engine technology, throw in a two-stroke cycle, and you've got the basis for the huge engines found in trains and big ships. Learn about the diesel two-stroke engine!

How Diesel Engines Work

Ever wonder what the difference is between a gasoline engine and a diesel engine? Diesels are more efficient and cheaper to run than gasoline engines. Learn what makes diesel engines different!