Engine Block Identification

by Richard Rowe

Engine blocks are complex pieces of machinery, and each are as unique as snowflakes. Manufacturers can use dozens of different block castings to produce a single line of engines, which makes identification crucial if you're shopping for a replacement unit. Blocks aren't particularly hard to identify, especially if you already have the engine out of a vehicle, or stripped down.

Casting Numbers

The simplest way to identify an engine block is to go by the casting number. These alphanumeric codes generally identify a particular block's series number, displacement range, casting location and date of manufacture. Location varies by manufacturer and engine type. Common locations include on the top of the bellhousing flange (where the transmission bolts to the engine), the sides of the block (under the exhaust manifolds) and the front of the engine, next to the timing cover and inside the intake valley (accessible only by removing the intake manifold).

Running tne Numbers

You have two basic options once you locate the casting number: You can refer to a print or online reference, or you can decode it yourself if you know the manufacturer's system. If you have a fairly mainstream engine, try entering the words "casting number" followed by the number into a search engine to see what comes up. There's a pretty good chance you'll find it this way. Otherwise, you'll need to find out how the manufacturer codes their stamps. For example, on a small-block Chevrolet coded V0216CLJ, "V" indicates the casting location (Flint, Michigan, in this case), "02" is the month of manufacture, "16" is the day of manufacture and "CLJ" is the block's identification code.

About the Author

Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.

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