How Are Cylinders Numbered on a V8 Engine?

by Cynthia Clark

A part of understanding the basics of a V8 engine is to know how the cylinders are numbered. According to BoxWrench, "Cylinder numbering refers to how the bores within the block are oriented and numbered." Numbering identifies each individual cylinder and plays a part in the firing order of each cylinder.

Visual Positioning

A V8 engine has eight cylinders, with one cylinder placed beneath each spark plug below the two valve covers on each half of the engine. Four cylinders sit on both the right and left sides of the engine, for a total of eight.

To determine the location of parts on a car or truck or its engine with regard to left or right side, the accepted method is from sitting inside the car. When looking at the V8 engine for cylinder placement, keep in mind that and references to the right and left side of an engine will be reversed, when compared with sitting inside the car.

Non-Standardized Numbering

There is not one standard method for having the cylinders numbered on a V8 engine. Each manufacturer chooses its own system, or uses a basic method shared by other manufacturers, since this is not necessarily considered a proprietary element in the operation of an engine or its design.

Most Common

In the most common method for cylinder numbering of a V8 engine, when facing the engine from the front of the car, the cylinder on your actual right side and closest to you is the number one cylinder. Then jumping to your actual left side, the closest cylinder to you is the number two cylinder. This back and forth counting continues in this pattern for all eight cylinders. In effect, all odd-numbered cylinders are on your actual right side, while all the even numbers are on your left side.

Craigslist website describes this as the "folding" method most commonly used by GM (except Northstar), Mopar, AMC, Nissan and Toyota. Basically if the V-sides of the engine were folded into each other, the cylinder numbers would fall inline and in order.

Ford Numbering

Ford Motor Company numbers its cylinders along each side from front to back. When looking at the engine, start on your actual left-hand side with the cylinder closest to you as number one, followed by two, three and four. Then look to your actual right-hand side; the cylinder closest to you is number five, moving along the line away from you to number eight.

Firing Order

The cylinders in any engine, V8 or otherwise do not all fire at the same time. Each cylinder takes its turn in a predetermined rotation, which is not the same order as the cylinder numbering. According to BoxWrench, the basic Ford firing order is as follows: First cylinder number one, followed by five, four, two, six, three, seven and finally number eight; then the rotation begins again and continues while the engine is in operation. The firing order may change between models, even when the manufacturer uses a standard firing order for other modes. Its always best to check the owner's manual for specific firing order.

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