How To Identify What Engine My Car Has?


Cars have plenty of identifying features like their number plates and VIN numbers. But, while they help identify the whole vehicle, they don’t necessarily help to identify the onboard engine. So, how do you determine what engine your car has?

You can identify what engine your car has with indirect and direct methods. Indirectly, you can check the car owner’s manual or perform online searches to find out what engine originally came with your vehicle. Besides that, referencing the car’s VIN number or the engine number stamped on the block can give you a more direct identification.

This guide will walk you through the methods you can use to identify the engine onboard your vehicle. You’ll also discover how that information can be helpful to you once you have it.

Let’s get started!

How Do I Know What Engine My Car Has?

There are plenty of direct and indirect ways to find out what engine you have onboard. Try some of the following:

1. Check The Car Owner’s Manual

The car owner’s manual is the number one resource for any information you need regarding your vehicle. Not only does it include maintenance information, but the manufacturers also add identifying information about your car.

So, the first thing you can do to identify your car’s engine is to check the manual thoroughly.

Car owner manuals differ between manufacturers in terms of the information they include. So, there’s a possibility the engine details are not included there. 

Checking the car owner’s manual would be an indirect way of knowing what engine is in your car. That’s because there are situations where the original engine might have been swapped out, like if you bought the vehicle second-hand.

Still, checking the manual is a quick and easy way to get the necessary information. If that doesn’t work, you have 3 other options below.

Read: Can Bad Spark Plugs Cause Engine Shaking And Loss Of Power?

2. Search For Your Car Model Online

Another quick and indirect way to identify what engine your car has is by checking online. Firstly, you can check the manufacturer’s website and look at the specifications listed for your particular model.

There, you can quickly find out what engine comes included with your car when it rolls off the factory floor.

Alternatively, you can also communicate with other car owners through forums. No matter the car brand or model you drive, there will be plenty of forums dedicated to it online.

Those forums serve as platforms for other car owners to share information and raise questions. For example, you can put up a post asking others what engine you have in your car, and there will be people willing to help.

Again, going online to find the answer is another indirect way of identifying your engine. That approach will work if your car uses its original engine, but it won’t help if the engine has been swapped in the past.

Read: The Fastest Way To Cool Down An Overheated Car Engine

3. Use The VIN Number

You can use the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN for a more direct way of identifying your car’s engine. Each vehicle has a VIN consisting of alphabets and numbers, all of which come together to form a unique identifier for your whole vehicle.

The VIN is helpful because you can use it to identify your car’s engine, regardless of if you have the original one or if it’s been swapped out.

Your car’s VIN number is so unique that you can use it to find out about the vehicle’s history, even if you’re not its first owner.

For instance, you can run the VIN through online databases or use it to find out more from your local road authority.

Overall, using the VIN number is a much more direct way to identify what engine your car has. That’s because of how unique and specific the VIN number is and because it relates to the vehicle’s official records.

Read: What Could Cause The Check Engine Light To Come On?

4. Look For The Engine Number

The final and most direct way to identify the engine in your car is to look for its engine number.

The engine number is somewhat similar to your VIN number in that it’s a series of alphabets and numbers that act as a unique identifier. Unlike the VIN, however, the engine number is only for the engine and not for the vehicle as a whole.

Unfortunately, finding the engine number can be pretty challenging. That’s because it’s stamped somewhere on the engine block itself.

So, you’ll have to search with a flashlight, looking at all sides of the engine to find the number.

Once you have that number, you can use free online databases to identify the engine you have. Alternatively, you can also contact the vehicle’s manufacturer or dealership and find out that way.

Read: 3 Signs Of Overdue Engine Oil Change

Why It’s Important To Know What Engine Your Car Has?

After learning how to identify what engine your car has, you might feel that it’s too much work. But wait, don’t stop just yet. Figuring out what engine your vehicle carries is essential for several different reasons, including the following:

  • Engine parts shopping: Firstly, identifying your engine will make it much easier for you to shop for spare parts. Instead of guessing, you’ll have complete confidence that whatever part you buy will be compatible with the engine you have.
  • Performance specs: Identifying your engine will also enable you to know precisely how much power and torque the engine produces. Plus, you’ll also be able to understand other performance specs related to the engine.
  • Known issues: Some car engines are more problematic than others. Knowing your vehicle’s exact engine allows you to research and discover its known issues. Then, you can fix those issues or prepare for them in advance before they become significant problems.
  • When buying used cars: Lastly, knowing how to identify the engine in a car helps you when buying used vehicles. You’ll be able to confirm if the engine was swapped and whether or not the seller is being honest with you about the sale.
  • Engine replacement: Suppose you’re driving a classic car or one with sentimental value. Plus, suppose the engine you currently have is too old and has become unreliable. In that case, identifying that engine will make it much easier for you to find and purchase an identical replacement. In addition, by shopping for the exact same engine, you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues.

Sure, identifying the engine your car has can be quite challenging. That’s especially true if you’ve never performed those steps before, like finding your VIN or engine numbers.

Still, there is a silver lining: once you figure out what engine you have, you’ll never need to re-identify it again.

The information you discover the first time will be helpful to you for as long as you own that vehicle.

Read: What is a Hydrolocked Engine and How Bad is It?

Final Thoughts

There are several ways you can identify the car engine you have. You can start by checking the owner’s manual or doing an online search to find the answer you need.

However, more direct ways are also available. For example, you can use the VIN number as a reference or search for the engine number stamped directly on the block.

Once you know what engine you have, you can use it to find out about your engine, shop for compatible parts, or purchase a whole replacement if necessary.

Leave a Comment