What makes a V8 engine better than a V12 engine? Or is the opposite true? I have been searching online for the answer to this question and have found nothing to quench my thirst for this answer. So, I decided to do my own research and present to you the facts.
Which Is Better, V8 Or V12?
The V8 and V12 engine both have their pros and cons so it is unfair to say which engine is better than the other. For instance, a typical V12 engine will use more fuel than a typical V8 engine. Yet, a V12 engine will be capable of producing more power than a V8 engine. With our current technology, many newer engines are being created to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
What is a V8 Engine?
A V8 engine is an eight-cylinder V-shaped engine where the cylinders are mounted on a crankcase in two sets of four cylinders, with all eight cylinders working a common crankshaft. A crankcase is a shelter for a crankshaft, which is the mechanical piece that helps provide rotational motion and helps move the cylinders. To figure out more about what exactly how a V8 engine works, I found an awesome video that explains the exact mechanisms. If you were confused before by all the bad advice out there, this one quick and concise video will help clear up a lot of doubt in your mind.
Common V8 Engine Used
The V8 crossplane engine is the most common V8 engine used in today’s market. They are rarely less than 3.0 L (183 cu in) in displacement and have exceeded 8.2 L (500 cu in) in commercial cars. Now, there are a ton of variations from different car manufacturers. I could probably go on for days just analyzing and discussing the different strengths and weaknesses of the different V8 engine.
So, I just gave you an overall generalization of what the typical V8 engine is on the market. This will help you better understand the ballpark of the strength and power of the V8 engines.
Flat Plane Crank v8 Vs Cross Plane Crank v8
A cross plane crank has a secondary engine balance which makes the engine run more smoothly. As a result, this engine needs a heavy crank to balance the primary forces and a heavy crankcase. This will raise the center of gravity of your car engine, which makes it harder to control. A cross plane crank also has an uneven firing due to the way the cranks are set up.
A flat plane crank is lighter and therefore more responsive. This means that you will be able to rev up your engine more easily than on a v8 engine with a cross plane crank. However, this flat plane crank will have a secondary engine imbalance which will cause more vibration than the cross plane crank. Typically, these cars are used for racing since the sport does not really need to care about the secondary imbalances created by the flat plane crank. All you really need is a powerful, fast-revving engine. Usually, very expensive cars used this type of engine and will offset the vibration effects by using lighter materials and shorter strokes within the engine. This, of course, all depends on the budget of your engine design and creation.
For a great visual representation of what I just discussed, here is a great video explaining the differences between the flat plane crank and the cross plane crank.
What Makes A V8 Engine Good?
- Compact engines
- Sleek design
- Compromise between size and efficiency
- Greater force output
The Size Of The V8 Engine Is Compact
It is space-efficient. When engineers are designing awesome engines, they need to account for the size. Typically, an eight-cylinder engine would be very long and take up a lot of room lengthwise.
Every inch counts when it comes to engine design. If engineers decide to make their engines bigger, they are compromising other qualities of the engine.
Design Is Sleek
This point goes hand in hand with the first bullet – if the size of your engine is efficient, your design will follow through with the same protocols.
Great Compromise Between Size And Efficiency
Depending on what model V8 you get (Yes, there are different types of V8 engines as well), you may see different power outputs and usage effectiveness.
Greater Force Output
With an eight-cylinder engine, the V8 engine has more ability to crank out more power. This is good news.
What Makes A V8 Engine Bad?
- Heavier engines
- More moving parts
- More expensive
- Larger packaging, so limited usage in certain cars
These Engines Are Heavy
Typically, V8 engines weigh between 400-600lbs, with a lot of engines weighing in the 600lbs range.
More Moving Parts
Because there are two sets of cylinders mounted on the crankcase, there are more moving parts compared to a V6 or V4 engine with fewer cylinders involved.
With more complexity and parts involved, the V8 engine will definitely cost much more.
Large Packaging & Car Restrictions
Though the size of the engine is compact, it can still be quite large. As a result, these engines are typically restricted to RWD/AWD cars. However, this has not stopped people from tinkering with the dimensions and usages of the V8 engine.
What Is A V12 Engine?
A V12 engine is a twelve-cylinder V-shaped engine where the cylinders are mounted on a crankcase in two sets of six cylinders, with all twelve cylinders working a common crankshaft. The V12 engine naturally achieves a primary and secondary balance, which means there is no need for balance shafts (extra weight to offset any imbalances due to the cranks).
What Makes A V12 Engine Better Than A V8?
- More power
- Typically, lighter than the V8 engines
- Fewer vibrations
Typically, More Cylinders Equals More Power
Why choose a V12 engine in the first place? Well, with more cylinders, you have more displacement. With more displacement created, more power is generated in your engine. Building a V8 engine with the same specifications of a V12 engine will make the cylinders very large and long, reducing the engine’s capacity to increase its overall power.
Typically, Lighter Engine In Racecars
With a great balance achieved via the primary and secondary engine, rotating pieces are lighter, smaller and create a smaller stroke. Together with those three combinations, that is an ideal recipe to create a fast and powerful car
V8 engines have complex exhaust systems that snake around the vehicle. This may be a source of vibrations for your vehicle. If it is a flat plane crank, there is a tendency for the engine to create troubling vibrations.
What Makes A V8 Engine Better Than A V12?
- Lower costs
- Lower fuel economy (due to fewer cylinders)
When you add more parts to an engine, that will cost you more money. As a result, the V8 engine is usually cheaper than a V12 engine.
Lower Fuel Economy
A V8 engine will have better fuel economy than a V12 engine. With fewer cylinders, there will be less consumption of gas, which makes a V12 engine not that friendly for your wallet.
Let us wrap this up
A V8 and V12 engine are both two great engineering masterpieces of their times. Ironically, both can be modified and tweaked to compensate for their weaknesses. As a result, there are many hybrid engines that really strengthens the weaknesses of a traditional V8 engine or V12 engine.
Depending on your budget, you can really get an engine that covers a majority of the current weaknesses of the typical V8 or V12 engine. Car enthusiasts, mechanics, car lovers, and everyone in between will have there take on which engine is better. You really cannot go wrong with your selection, ONLY if you did your research.