Skip advert
Advertisement
Tips and advice

What engine is in my car?

Need to know the fuel type, size or CO2 emissions of the engine in a car? This guide explains how to check

Need to know what engine your car has, or perhaps you've hired a car and aren't sure what fuel to put in it? Whatever the situation, it's easy to find out the fuel type of a car, the size (also known as the capacity) of its engine and even its CO2 emissions.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The quickest way is to make a note of the car's registration number and head over to the government's vehicle tax checking service on your smartphone. All you need to type in is the number plate, and then tick a box to confirm the make, model and colour of the car you're enquiring about.

Misfuelling: what to do if you put petrol in your diesel car

Once that's done, you'll be given a list of details about your car, including its engine size (called cylinder capacity), fuel type and CO2 emissions, along with information about the date the car was manufactured and first registered for the road. It will also let you know the road tax status of the car and when its next MOT test is due.

If you don't have access to the internet, there are a few other visual checks that can also be helpful. By law, every new car has to have a sticker inside the fuel filler cap that tells you what type of fuel it requires.

Car handbook and badges

You can also look at the car's handbook, usually found in a wallet in the glovebox. This will list technical details for the engines available in the model you're driving, and the engine and trim level of your car will usually be written in the front or printed on a sticker.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Most vehicles have a badge on the rear bumper or boot that indicates its engine and trim level, with a 'D' almost always corresponding to diesel. If a badge like '320i' is present a quick search for this and the year the car was built will bring up lots of information.

If you're in the driver's seat, a quick glance at the rev gauge can also be helpful. If the redline is at around 4-5,000rpm you can be reasonably confident there's a diesel engine under the bonnet, as petrol engines typically have a redline that starts at around 7,000rpm. If there's no rev gauge at all but a needle marked 'Power' and 'Eco', the car is either a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Still unsure?

If you're still unsure what engine is in your car, give the manufacturer's customer services line a ring or call your local dealership. Be sure to have the car's registration number and vehicle identification number (VIN) handy before you call - the VIN can be found at the base of the windscreen. They'll be able to trace your vehicle on their vehicle database and give you information about it.

Popular engine abbreviations

Over the years, car manufacturers have come up with popular engine abbreviations and badges to make it easier to identify cars at a glance, and ensure everyone knows if you've splashed out on a potent engine.

What does TDI stand for?

Here's a list of some popular diesel engine names:

Alfa Romeo - JTDm (uni-Jet Turbo Diesel modificata)BMW - for diesels, the model designation is followed by a ‘d’ (i.e. 118d)Citroen, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall - BlueHDi (ultra-efficient versions of High-pressure Direct injection engines)Fiat - MultijetFord - TDCi (Turbo Diesel Common-rail injection) for older models, EcoBlue for newer carsJaguar and Land Rover - ‘D’, then the engine’s horsepower in PS (i.e. D150)Honda - i-DTEC (Intelligent Diesel Technology Engine Control)Hyundai and Kia - CRDi (Common Rail Diesel injection)Jeep - Multijet or CRD (Common Rail Diesel)Mazda - SkyActiv-DMINI - ‘D’ badgeMercedes - CDI (Common-rail Diesel Injection), or the model designation followed by 'd' (i.e. CLA 220 d)Nissan, Renault and Dacia - dCi (direct Common-rail injection)Toyota - ‘D’ badge on engine (D-4D models have four-wheel-drive)Vauxhall - older models have CDTi engines (Common-rail Diesel Turbo injection)Volvo - ‘D’ then model designation (i.e. D5), or ‘B’ then model designation for mild-hybrid engines (i.e. B5)

Skip advert
Advertisement

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Speed awareness course: what to expect and who’s eligible?
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
17 May 2024

Speed awareness course: what to expect and who’s eligible?

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
24 May 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers

Cat S and Cat N cars explained: guide to buying an insurance write-off
Cat S and Cat N car
Tips and advice
15 May 2024

Cat S and Cat N cars explained: guide to buying an insurance write-off

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024