Inline four engines are widely used across the world throughout land, sea and air applications. These offer many more advantages than disadvantages and they do offer an excellent set of features that are usually not obtained with the other types of engines. These engines offer a really compact package and not only that, but they do offer some of the advantages of much larger engines as well. Most today’s cars use them as these are much better balanced than 2 or 3 cylinder engines, and they are much cheaper to manufacture and to buy than a larger V6 or inline six engine.
Inline Four Engines – An Imbalanced Design
Unlike a 2 or 3 cylinder engine, the inline-4 doesn’t have any type of rocking vibration. Because of that, it may feel much smoother than its smaller counterparts. However, it is not perfectly balanced like an inline 6. Because cylinders move in pairs, at high RPMs the inline four will show a secondary imbalance. Because of that many engines on the market use balance shafts in order to reduce these vibrations which could be quite annoying in any type of car.
One of the biggest advantages is the fact the inline-4 engine is small, and it can be easy to engineer. Because of that, development costs are usually quite small in comparison with a larger engine. In fact, some manufacturers started to use modular cylinders for their inline four engines which are shared with larger V6 or V8 mills. Because of that, the development costs are lowered even more. These are also quite light in comparison with most other engines on the market, and they do offer a really compact package.
This makes them perfect for transverse applications meaning that most front wheel drive cars come equipped with an inline four engine. Thanks to their lightweight components these engines are also great when it comes to revving up high so they can also be used in sports cars or sports family cars.
While they are easy to engineer, inline four engines are not nearly perfect. As we said, these are still imbalanced engines, so even the best out there show this behavior. On top of that, in order to obtain a lot of power from this type of engine, it requires a really large turbocharger. This will increase fuel consumption by a massive amount, and it would make it less efficient than a large V8. On top of that, inline-4 engines are small. Unfortunately, because they are unbalanced, they can’t come in large displacements as the balance shafts needed would be too large and they would make the engine unusable on most cars.