The straight-4 or inline-4 engine is a four cylinder internal combustion engine with all four cylinders mounted in a straight line along the crankcase. The single bank of cylinders may be oriented in either a vertical or an inclined plane with all the pistons driving a common crankshaft. Where it is inclined, it is sometimes called a slant-4. In a specification chart or when an abbreviation is used, an inline-4 engine is listed as I-4 or L-4.
The straight-4 layout is the simplest design which is in perfect primary balance and confers a degree of mechanical simplicity which makes it popular for economy cars. However, despite its simplicity, it suffers from a secondary imbalance which causes minor vibrations in smaller engines. These vibrations become worse as engine size and power increase, so the more powerful engines used in larger cars generally are more complex designs with more than 4 cylinders.
References / sources
Lead to wikipedia article - For full details see : wikipedia:Straight-four engine
- Nunney, Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology, page 12
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