The engine block may not be the part of your engine doing the heavy
lifting, but it is the most indispensable part of a modern internal combustion
motor.

Whether you call it the engine block or the cylinder block, it holds
together the cylinders and all the other parts that are essential in
transferring power from the pistons to the crankshaft. The addition of the
engine block makes the rest of the motor more reliable and more straightforward
to repair and replace.

Some people refer to this casing as an engine block, but others see
it as the cylinder block. What’s the difference? Keep reading to learn what you
need to know about the block that holds your engine together.


Comparison table

Object
Image
Define

Common Engine Block Problems

engine block

Engine blocks are sturdy and often last the lifetime of the vehicle.
Despite this, engine blocks may encounter problems causing them to fail.

Internal Engine Coolant Leak

internal engine coolant leak

When a faulty gasket allows water and engine oil to mix, you might
see the coolant expansion tank levels drop.

External Engine Coolant Leak

external engine coolant leak

If you move your vehicle and discover a puddle of water where your
engine was parked, then you might have an external leak.

Cracked Engine Block

cracked engine block

Spotting a large water or oil puddle under the front of your vehicle
is a clear sign of a cracked engine block.

What Is An Engine Block?

A vehicle’s engine block is the crucial component tying internal
combustion engines together. Mechanical engineers call it a “block” because it
comes in the form of a solid car part made from cast iron.

While the bulk of engine blocks produced come from cast iron molds,
some cars engineered in the late 1990s might
run with an engine block made of plastic or aluminum.

The goal was to create a more efficient vehicle because a cast iron
block often makes up a significant percentage of the engine’s weight and
requires a multi-person team for repairs or removal. With a lighter block,
drivers receive better fuel economy. However, manufacturers often found that
lighter blocks became more complicated and expensive.

So far, the cast iron block continues to dominate.

The block itself is a cooled, lubricated crankcase housing both the
engine’s cylinders and the cylinder components.

In popular culture, you might refer to the star player of the team
as an engine block because they are strong, sturdy, and indispensable to the
machine.

It follows if an engine block fails, so too does the car. You don’t
get anywhere until you repair or replace your engine block.


What Is A Cylinder Block?

The cylinder block is the structure housing the engine’s cylinders
and its essential components. It also houses both the intake and exhaust ports
and passages as well as the coolant passages.


There’s No Substantial Difference Between The Engine Block Vs Cylinder Block

block Vs Cylinder block

If you read both descriptions, you picked up on a significant
similarity.

Both the engine block and cylinder block house the cylinders,
components, and crankcase. That’s why you hear the two terms used
interchangeably or synonymously with each other. They perform what is
effectively the same function.

It is possible to dive deep and pick apart the technical
distinctions between the two terms or parts. For example, an en bloc cylinder is a discrete unit
that doesn’t house the crankcase. Meanwhile, an engine block is an integrated
design featuring the crankcase.

The most commonly accepted way of using the two terms allows you to
use them interchangeably.


Diving Deeper Into The Engine Block: What It Holds, What It Does

The engine block of your car is also known as the car’s cylinder
block. Within it lie all the major parts of your motor’s bottom end. What
happens in the engine block?

The engine or cylinder block performs three critical functions:

  • Lubricates
    and maintains stability in the engine
  • Transfers
    oil via oil galleries to lubricate all critical engine components
  • Cools the
    engine from the water galleries

In other words, your cylinder block keeps the engine at the optimal
operating temperature even when other factors like load or outside temperature
vary. It’s also the critical part that lubricates the whole of the engine,
allowing it to perform basic functions.

Why does it need to be in a block shape? Cast iron blocks were a
vital engineering innovation when the internal combustion engine was still a
new invention. Using a sturdy iron block meant that it was possible to cast the
cylinders in sets of two or three. Cylinder pairs or triples create a more
reliable engine. Engineers also found building the engine was faster with a
block.

The engine block evolved significantly over the past hundred years.
While old engine blocks featured two or three cylinders, modern undertakings
may include eight or more within a single block.

Using a block also makes cylinder repairs and replacements easy.
Rather than fiddling with a single cylinder, it’s possible to remove the block,
repair it, and then re-install it. It’s also easier to replace. Working this
way also means you don’t find yourself repairing one element at a time, which
means the longevity of the parts matches rather than creating a piecemeal
solution.



Why Is Lubrication And Temperature Regulation So Important For Your Engine?

Your engine is the place where fuel combustion happens, which is the
process that renders your motor a fuel combustion engine. Combustion,
or burning, is a simple chemical process where fuel and air combine to release
energy. All this happens in your engine block, and then your engine partially
converts the same energy to power the motor.

How? As the combustion expands, the gases push on the pistons. The
pressure on the them then rotates the crankshaft.

Your car moves because the rotating crankshaft triggers a system of
gears known as your powertrain which sends the energy and movement to your
wheels.


Common Engine Block Problems

engine block

Engine blocks are sturdy and often last the lifetime of the vehicle.
Despite this, engine blocks may encounter problems causing them to fail.

The four most common engine block problems include:


  • Internal
    engine coolant leaks
  • External
    engine coolant leaks
  • Cracked
    engine blocks
  • Porous
    engine block

Internal Engine Coolant Leak

internal engine coolant leak

When a faulty gasket allows water and engine oil to mix, you might
see the coolant expansion tank levels drop. Another common sign of an internal
coolant leak is the build-up of a thick cream under your oil filler cap.


External Engine Coolant Leak

external engine coolant leak

If you move your vehicle and discover a puddle of water where your
engine was parked, then you might have an external leak. External engine
coolant leaks happen when you have a leaky water pump or house.

Puddles are also a sign of a crack in the engine block.


Cracked Engine Block

cracked engine block

Spotting a large water or oil puddle under the front of your vehicle
is a clear sign of a cracked engine block. If you see a pool of oil, check the
dipstick. A distinct lack of oil almost confirms it.

If you suspect your engine block now boasts a crack, don’t try to
start your car. You enjoy a sound that fatally marries a screeching and
grinding noise that you never want to hear again.

Cracked engine blocks are often the result of a deep freeze or
overheating. Outside air temperature alone can’t do such severe damage. Excess
heat is the result of a lack of coolant, which causes the overheated portions
of the block to expand and places stress on the block.

A failed water pump might also lead to a cracked block because it
stops the coolant from flowing through the system.

In rare cases, you might find you created a system capable of
overheating by adding a turbo- or supercharger to your engine. If your engine
wasn’t designed to handle that kind of power, the engine overheats and creates
expansion and flexing in the block, which again allows cracking.

Only in rare cases does an engine block fail due to a casting error.
Your vehicle or parts warranty should cover casting problems.

Your engine doesn’t just crack. Expect to see symptoms before
finding a big puddle of oil. The most common signs of a potential engine crack
include:


  • Overheating
  • Decreased
    engine performance
  • Mixing
    antifreeze and motor oil
  • Emitting
    smoke from under the hood

Porous Engine Block

Contaminants that infiltrate your casting when it’s still in the
factory might contribute to problems down the road. Most of the time, they
don’t cause an issue with the block itself. However, they can create issues with gaskets and gasket
seals that require some maintenance.

As with a casting error, there’s no fixing a porous engine block. It
arrived broken, and manufacturer’s warranties should cover it.

In the case of a porous block causing a broken gasket seal, you’ll
likely need to pay for the repair itself because these fall into the category
of wear and tear items. The parts themselves are cheap, but labor can be
costly.


Failed Engine Block? Big Problems

Without an engine block, you don’t have a car. Fortunately,
manufacturers design these heavy, cast iron casings to last across the lifespan
of your vehicle as a whole.

The difference between an engine block vs cylinder block is barely
perceptible today given the dominant use of the cast iron block casing. If you
hear the words interchangeably, the speaker isn’t wrong. It’s correct to use
one in place of the other.

Questions about the engine block and engine
block repair? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments below.


 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This