Engine Location

Engine Location

The engine is typically placed in one of three locations. In the vast majority of vehicles, it is located as the front of the vehicle, in front of the passenger compartment. Front-mounted engines can be positioned either longitudinally or transversely with respect to the vehicle.

The second engine location is a mid-mount position between the passenger compartment and rear suspension. Mid-mount engines are normally transversely mounted. The third, and least common, engine location ins the rear of the vehicle. The engines are typically opposed-type engines.

Each of these engine locations offers advantages and disadvantages.

Front Engine Longitudinal. In this type of vehicle, the engine, transmission, front suspension, and steering equipment are installed in the front of the body, and the differential and rear suspension are installed in the rear of the body. Most front engine longitudinal vehicles are rear-wheel drive. Some front-wheel-drive cars with a transaxle have this configuration, and most four-wheel-drive vehicles are equipped with a transfer case and have the engine mounted longitudinally in the front of the vehicle.

Total vehicle weight can be evenly distributed between the front and rear wheels with this configuration. This lightens the steering force and equalizes the braking load. With this design, it is possible to independently remove and install the engine, propeller shaft, differential, and suspension. Longitudinally mounted engines require large engine compartments. The need for a rear-drive propeller shaft and differential also cuts down passenger compartment space.

Front Engine Transverse. Front engines that are mounted transversely sit sideways in the engine compartment. They are used with transaxles that combine transmission and differential gearing into a single compact housing, fastened directly to the engine. Transversely mounted engines reduce the size of the engine compartment and overall vehicle weight.

Transversely mounted front engines allow for down-sized, lighter vehicles with increased interior space. However most of the vehicle weight is toward the front of the vehicle. This provides for increased traction by the drive wheels. The weight also places a greater load on the front suspension and brakes.

Mid-engine Transverse. In this design, the engine and drivetrain are positioned between the passenger compartment and rear axle. Mid-engine location in used in smaller, rear-wheel-drive, high-performance sports cars for several reasons. The central location of heavy components results in a center of gravity very near the center of the vehicle. This vastly improves steering and handling. Since the engine is not under the hood, the hood can be sloped downward, improving aerodynamics and increasing the driver's field of vision. However, engine access and cooling efficiency are reduced. A barrier is also needed to reduce the transfer of noise, heat, and vibration to the passenger compartment.

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