Modern and Older Car Engines – differences


Car engines have changed through time and they have improved compared to the older times. But no matter the fact that basic car principles of the very first car are used even today, there is still difference between modern and older car engines.

If you ever wondered about the differences between old car engines and the new ones, and if there is any improvement in them since the first car engine, you can find your answer here. For a fact we can say that there have been quite a lot of changes in the car engines from the beginning until now. The basic concept may have stayed the same but many small improvements have happened over time and in this article we will focus on just a few interesting examples.

 Hero of Alexandria’s Early Steam Engine. Source: Research Gate


It has been proven that using burning fuel such as gasoline for running a car is not very efficient. Only 15-30% is actually converted into the energy that makes the car move and the rest is lost to heat and friction as well as the parasitic losses. This is why modern engines use the direct injection technology – fuel is directly injected into the cylinders – which takes out as much energy as possible from the fuel and puts as much as it can for running a car. This gives improvement of 1%.

Turbochargers use exhaust gas to power a turbine that pushes extra air into the cylinders which further increases efficiency up to 8%. Variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation improve efficiency even more because they only allow the engine to use just as much as fuel as it actually needs.


 Modern cars have better fuel efficiency which immediately makes them a lot more powerful.

For example, a 1983 Chevrolet Malibu had a 3.8-liter V-6 engine could spew out 110 horsepower. In comparison, the 2005 version had a 2.2-liter inline four cylinder generating 144 horsepower. Not too sloppy.

  1. SIZE

The bigger the engine the more power it has. Not today. Car manufacturers have figured out that size does not make the engine more powerful. Even the smallest engines today may have more power than the biggest one. Smaller engines are very efficient but do not take much space so manufacturers have shrunk them over time. Everything you need to do is make the object work smarter.

A great example for this would be F-series trucks. The F-150 had two versions in 2011. A 3.5-liter V-6 engine that generates 365 horsepower and a 5.0-liter V-8 that generates 360 horsepower.


In modern engines mechanical parts have been replaced with electronic ones. The reason for this is because electrical parts tend to be less prone to wear and tear like mechanical ones.

They also require less frequent tune-ups, per se. Parts like pumps have increasingly become replaced with electronically controlled ones instead of their analog ancestors.

Throttle bodies and electronic fuel injection systems have replaced carburetors. Distributors and caps have been replaced with independent ignition coils controlled by the ECU. Furthermore, sensors are monitoring almost everything.


Although modern and old car engines work on the same principle, we can say with insurance that modern engines had their improvement over time. Modern engines seem to be more practical since they are very efficient and powerful yet smaller than before.

All in all, modern car engines are more efficient, smaller, more powerful, smarter and less prone to inevitable mechanical failure. On the other hand, repairs and servicing are now a more highly skilled and time-consuming undertaking