How to Find Out What Type of Engine Your Car Has

The world of used cars can be tricky; however, with the right guidance from a knowledgeable friend or relative, identifying the engine type becomes an easy task. 

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, understanding the parts car’s engine spec is crucial—this helps both parties work out a fair deal, making the process smoother for everyone involved. 

Don’t let the bit of effort deter you; knowing how to find your car’s engine details is essential for a successful transaction.

How to find your engine type by VIN

Embarking on the quest to unveil your vehicle’s intricacies, the essential first step is to find your engine type through the cryptic Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This 17-character unique code, a veritable automotive Rosetta Stone, harbors crucial insights into the make, model, year of manufacture, and size of the engine. 

Direct your focus to the enigmatic characters 4 to 8, as they hold the key to decoding this vehicular puzzle. For a digital revelation, journey to the manufacturer’s website, where the VIN, like a secret passphrase, reveals details about the country of origin, factory assembly, and even a discreet security code. 

Alternatively, delve into the analog embrace of your owner’s manual, where the VIN transforms into a narrative, bridging the gap between the digital and tangible realms. This method, fused with personal experience, transforms a mundane code into a captivating story of your vehicle’s origin, ensuring you navigate the maze of automotive details with finesse.

Enter your VIN into a free online decoder.

Discover your car’s engine secrets by entering the VIN into a free online decoder on CARFAX or the Driving Tests Site, both approved by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Navigate the web with these tools to unveil hidden details effortlessly, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of your vehicle. Embrace the digital journey, decoding the VIN to reveal not just numbers but the captivating narrative of your car’s history.

Examining Your Engine

As you delve into understanding your cherished vehicle’s engine, begin by locating the manufacturer’s informative label affixed to the engine block. This inconspicuous tag reveals the key details such as engine size in liters, the arrangement of cylinders (such as V4, V6, or V8), and the intricate layout defining its power potential. 

While the belief that bigger engines equate to superior performance is common, a nuanced approach considers the relative impact on fuel efficiency and power distribution. Whether it’s a nimble 2.0L engine powering a compact car or a robust V6 propelling an SUV, the balance between these factors defines the overall driving experience. 

Beyond the numerical specifics, the operation of pistons within the engine orchestrates a dance of power, influencing the responsiveness and minimizing lag, especially in larger engines. Drawing from personal experiences navigating diverse terrains, the optimal engine size emerges as a personalized choice, harmonizing efficiency and power for a truly gratifying driving journey.

Alternative Methods

When it comes to unraveling the mysteries hidden beneath your car’s hood, there are alternative methods that go beyond the conventional. 

Ask a mechanic—this is not merely seeking guidance; it’s tapping into a reservoir of automotive wisdom. Your local, trusted car mechanic, armed with experience and accolades, becomes the guide to decoding your vehicle’s secrets.

If Your Car is Newer: Peeling Back the Layers

For a newer car, look at your car’s original window sticker. That seemingly mundane label, also known as the Monroney sticker, is a treasure trove of information. From the suggested retail price to engine details, it’s a snapshot of your car’s DNA. 

Imagine bringing your purchased car into focus, each digit and code telling a story displayed on that sticker in the glove box. The law of disclosure unfolds, revealing not just the present, but a glimpse into future repairs and specific parts.

If Your Car is a Vintage Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury: Unearth the Past

Now, if your prized possession dates back to the era between 1967 and 2017 and it’s a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury, there’s an exclusive route to explore. 

Request a build sheet. This isn’t just about finding out what’s under the hood; it’s about unearthing the story of its creation. 

Marti, with its original Ford invoices, brings a touch of history to your hands. Copies of documents from the past become the guide to your car’s equivalent value, not just as a machine but as a piece of automotive history.

The Dealer’s Secret Code: VIN Decoding

For a more immediate approach, consider the dealership. Decode your VIN at the dealership or call the car’s manufacturer. The VIN, a unique identifier, holds the key to your car’s specifications. 

Whether it’s a Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, or Volkswagen, the VIN is the Rosetta Stone of your car’s lineage. A simple call or visit to the dealership, armed with your VIN, can unveil details that the naked eye can’t perceive. It’s not just about inputting data; it’s about decoding the kind of engineering that makes your car unique.

Beyond the Nuts and Bolts: The Mechanic’s Touch

However, don’t underestimate the value of a seasoned mechanic’s insight. A regular repair facility might seem ordinary, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice the signs. Ask a mechanic whose shop exudes professionalism and orderliness. 

Awards like the AAA Approved Auto Repair status and evidence of qualified technicians with Automotive Service Excellence certifications are not just accolades—they’re assurances of expertise. A neat, organized facility equipped with modern equipment tells a tale of happy work, where cars aren’t just repaired; they’re given an equivalent value through meticulous craftsmanship.

The Personal Touch: Recommendations and Trust

There’s an invaluable aspect to seeking a mechanic’s advice—trust. Ask a mechanic recommended by friends, family, or community members. It’s more than a transaction; it’s a relationship built on shared experiences. 

Small repairs or major overhauls, recommendations from those who have been there before provide a sense of confidence that goes beyond any price tag. The trust in your mechanic is an investment in avoiding future expensive repairs, creating a symbiotic relationship where value extends beyond the mechanical to the personal.

How to find your engine type by car registration number

Embarking on the quest to uncover your car’s secrets, the V5C form emerges as the key document, revealing intricate details about the engine—from its size to its capacity. 

Beyond the conventional number plate, the often-dismissed VIN number proves pivotal in unlocking vital information. Navigating the user-friendly GOV.UK website, you input the car registration number, unveiling not just the engine type but also unraveling the vehicle’s registration years.

 Delving deeper, understanding the Euro 1 to Euro 6 guide becomes crucial, offering insights into your vehicle’s emissions standard. This journey transcends a routine purchase, transforming it into an enlightening exploration of your vehicle’s identity and environmental impact.

What types of engines are there?

Inline Engines:

  • Cylinders arranged in a straight row, common in small family cars like hatchbacks and saloon-type vehicles.

V Engines:

  • V-shaped arrangement with engine’s cylinder heads at an angle, preferred for supercars and premium vehicles, providing a lower center of gravity for comfortable handling.
  • Flat engine design with horizontally aligned cylinders in two lines facing outward, less common but favored for superior handling in sports cars.

Cylinder Configurations and Power:

  • Twin-cylinder engines deliver substantial power, often found in motorcycles.
  • Three-cylinder engines power small cars, with turbochargers enhancing performance.
  • Four-cylinder engines, the workhorses of the automotive world, prevalent in small to midsize cars and slightly larger models.
  • Five-cylinder engines add a unique touch, combining compactness with the smoothness of six-cylinders.
  • Six-cylinder engines, available in six- and eight-cylinder configurations, often propel high-end performance models and supercars.

Types of Fuel Engines:

Gasoline Engines:

  • Use gasoline as fuel, producing less noise and vibration.
  • Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) enhances efficiency by directly spraying fuel into the combustion chamber.

Diesel Engines:

  • Advantage in fuel cost efficiency, generating more power with lower fuel consumption.
  • Common Rail Direct Injection (CRDI) technology is commonly employed, ensuring high combustion rates and low emissions.

LPG Engines:

Powered by liquefied petroleum gas, offering benefits like low fuel cost and reduced noise.

Advantages offset the risk of explosion, but accessibility remains a challenge.

Injection Insights:

GDI vs. MPI vs. CRDI:

  • GDI, commonly used in gasoline engines, offers a powerful but relatively expensive option with direct fuel injection.
  • MPI, less fuel-efficient, ensures lower vibration and noise, providing good durability.
  • CRDI, prevalent in diesel engines, boasts a high combustion rate and low emissions, striking a balance between power and efficiency.

Understanding these diverse engine configurations and fuel types not only enhances our appreciation for automotive technology but also guides us in making informed choices for our rides.


In conclusion, navigating the intricacies of your car’s engine type is an essential aspect of the automotive journey, contributing to a seamless buying or selling process. From decoding the enigmatic VIN to utilizing online decoders, the digital realm provides a wealth of information about your vehicle’s history.

 Examining the engine itself, understanding the nuances of cylinder configurations, and fuel types offer a personalized touch to the exploration. Alternative methods, such as consulting a trusted mechanic or delving into historical documents for vintage cars, provide additional layers to this automotive detective work.

 Ultimately, the search for your car’s engine type is not just a technical pursuit; it’s a narrative that connects you with the vehicle’s past and present, ensuring a gratifying and informed driving experience.


Can I tell my engine type by VIN number?

Can my VIN number tell me what engine I have? Yes. Characters 4-8 on a given VIN denotes the vehicle’s manufacturer, engine size, and type.

How do I find out what engine is in my car?

You can easily find out what kind of engine is in your car by checking the VIN, which can be seen in the owner’s manual or under the hood. The VIN can also be found on the front of the driver’s side dashboard in most cases.

How can I find out what engine I have without a VIN number?

Your vehicle’s engine number should be stamped right onto the engine of your vehicle. Pop the hood of your vehicle or look at your motorcycle’s engine from the side. You should see a sticker that clearly indicates the engine number. Look at your owner’s manual.

What size engine do I have?

The easiest way is to find your car’s manual, which will list the engine size in there. Just check the Specifications or Mechanical Information section, where it will tell you what you need to know.

How can you tell the difference between car engines?

V8 engines typically produce a deep, rumbling sound due to their firing order, while V12 engines often have a smoother, higher-pitched sound. Inline engines tend to have a more consistent and rhythmic sound compared to V-configured engines.