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How do I know, How many cylinders car has?

Dear son bought a lincoln Ls. He lives about an hour away, but is bringing it “home” on Sunday for help with basic oil change, cabin filter, etc.

He does NOT KNOW how many cylinders it has. And he is pretty clueless in terms of cars, etc.

So, I have to buy parts on Saturday (tommorow). We are in a very rural area and no parts will be available on Sunday when he shows up.

Is there an easy way for him to find out how many cylinders the car has, so I can go get the parts tommorrow…Something I can ask him over the phone…

Have him give you the VIN and then run it through (for free). It’ll give you the basic profile, usually including the engine size/cylinders before you have to pay anything. Might be easier than trying to describe spark plugs, coil, or what cylinders look like if he doesn’t already know.

Edit: I stand corrected. Apparently doesn’t show this extra info anymore without being paid first. But you can still tell by the VIN. The 8th digit of the VIN will tell you if it’s a 6 cylinder or an 8. I’ll give you an example VIN:


The above vehicle is an 8 cylinder, engine digit “A”. If that letter is an “S”, it’s a 6 cylinder. It’ll be either/or.

Have him pop the hood and look at the emissions sticker. The engine size will be listed. He could also count the coil packs (one per cylinder).

And there are only two choices; 3.0 L V6 or 3.9 L V8. Hope he has the latter…

Being Friday night, I am unable to reach my 21-year-old…Go figure…but why do you say hope he has the V-8???

You’re kidding, right? You weren’t born a ‘Dad’, were you? What would you, “when you wore a younger man’s clothes”, rather have? A V6 or a V8 at the end of throttle cable?

I don’t know. Guess I was a wierd kid. I was perfectly happy with my four-cylinder Chevy Vega in 1976…

OP again.

Thanks for the suggestions. I think it will be Saturday morning before I can reach him, now. It’s Friday night and for some reason a 21-year-old guy isn’t answering calls from dad.

Anyway, I see if I can get him to check VIN and hood sticker information and see if we can figure it out.

thanks again…

Well, there’s 4 cylinder Chevy Vega, and then there is 4 cylinder Chevy Vega… As in Cosworth 4. Never was the sleeper we all hoped it might be, but it sure sounded neat rolling off the tip of our tongues… Say it with me, Tappit. Cosworth Vega…* And you weren’t weird. Probably just “complicated”. After all, here you are, working on cars with your son! Now, is that a picture of weird?

Keep it simple. Buy parts for BOTH size engines. The parts you don’t use, you can take back to the store. While at the store, get the repair manual, too.

Well, to add to the post, I managed to talk to clueless son moments ago, and he opened the hood and whadda know, it has a big plastic engine cover thing that says V8 on it…so, whadda think the odds are it is a V8.

But, regardless, thanks for the help. The VIN number thing is particulary valuable for anyone, especially if “in-engine” stickers and/or covers are missing on older cars…

Ask son how many spark plugs to buy for a V8 engine.

Glad you figured it out, tappit. Have fun working on the car with your son, he’s got a nice car.

He can’t count the coils, they are COPs hidden under sealed bolted on covers.

If you don’t have a repair manual, call your local library. They usually are connected to the information.