Jan 6, 2021

What's the Difference Between a V-6 and V-8 Engine?

The Pit Boss

What’s The Difference Between a V6 and a V8 engine?

There’s nothing like having a choice, and trying to decide between whether you need a V6 or a V8 can be an exciting and confusing one. While the difference between V6 and V8 engine cars can get really technical, the decision regarding which is the best for you is a personal one. Let’s break down the difference between a V6 and V8 engine.

Engine 101: What is An Internal Combustion Engine?

In order to understand the difference between V6 and V8 engine, we need to cover how an internal combustion engine works.

We all know what a steam engine looks like. Conjuring up the image of a steam-powered locomotive is probably the first thing in your mind, and these types of engines were all the rage until the internal combustion engine became the go-to source of power. The first commercially successful internal combustion engine was created around 1859 by Belgian engineer Étienne Lenoir, and, in 1876, Nikolaus Otto created the first internal combustion engine that ran on petroleum gas, the predecessor to today’s modern engines.

V6 engine
V8 engine

Without getting too technical, the basic way an internal combustion engine works is based on the conversion of energy from spark ignition. An internal combustion engine consists of a moving piston and a fixed cylinder. Gasses are released from the combustion of an air and fuel mixture which pushes the piston and rotates the crankshaft. Then, through a chain reaction and movement of gears in the powertrain, the vehicle’s wheels are put in motion.

“What does V6 engine mean?”

What is a V6? It’s an engine that has six cylinders mounted on the crankshaft in two rows of three, arranged in the shape of a V. These types of engines were first developed in 1905 but didn’t become popular until the middle of the 20th Century when race cars began to use them.

Video Source: m f YouTube

Basically, when compared to an engine that has four cylinders, V6 engines provide more power due to having more pistons to convert more fuel into useable energy. V6 engines run more quietly than a four-cylinder engine, consist of a compact, rigid design that requires less space under the hood, and tend to get better fuel economy than a V8.  

V6 engines are popular and are used in many modern rear, front, and all-wheel drives as they offer more power than conventional engines, but are a happy medium between a four-cylinder and a V8.

“What does V8 mean?”

What is a V8? Simply put, V8 engines have eight cylinders mounted in two sets of four, compared to six cylinders in a V6. V8s smoothly produce more power and provide acceleration at a faster rate. However, due to the V8s additional cylinders, these engines consume more fuel than the V6. V8 engines have a rigid design that offers higher displacement, are associated with high power, and have become favorites for muscle cars.

Video Source: Engineering Explained YouTube

Unlike the commonly used and adaptable V6, most V8 vehicles are restricted to either RWD or AWD. V8s are heavier than V6 and have a higher cost of maintenance due to increased friction in the moving parts.

What’s The Difference Between V6 and V8?

V6 Engines…

  • Have six cylinders
  • Are generally cheaper than the V8
  • Provide both fuel efficiency and power
  • Are compact in design and tend to run more quietly
  • Are a halfway point for power in between four-cylinder and V8
  • Can be mounted on most all-wheel, front-, and rear-wheel drives
  • Are for you if you want a car with less friction and maintenance costs than the V8
  • Are not for you if you are looking for an engine with high power output and faster acceleration

V8 Engines…

  • Have eight cylinders
  • Cost more than the V6
  • Are mostly found in RWD and AWD vehicles
  • Have higher maintenance costs due to increased friction and moving parts
  • Are rigid in design with higher displacement
  • Provide much more power than a V6, but consume more fuel
  • Are for you if you are looking for straight power and don’t mind the extra cost
  • Are not for you if you occasionally drive in the city, as fuel consumption can be uneconomical

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