A Look at Cylinder Deactivation Technology for those with Hybrid and Electrical Mechanic Training

Today, manufacturers are focusing on offering hybrid versions of their newest models to appeal to owners looking to save on fuel and reduce their environmental impact. However, another technology offers fuel-conscious drivers a different option. Cylinder deactivation technology—or active fuel management—improves the fuel economy of gasoline-powered cars by controlling the amount of fuel used. This technology is similar to that which is used to improve the fuel efficiency of mild hybrid vehicles.

If you’re thinking of becoming a hybrid and electrical mechanic, here’s what you need to know about cylinder deactivation.

The Purpose of Cylinder Deactivation Technology Explained for those with Hybrid and Electrical Mechanic Training

Cylinder deactivation technology allows for increased fuel economy, without negatively impacting an engine’s performance. Many consumers opt for vehicles equipped with V-8 or V-6 engines because they want increased power, performance, and towing capabilities. However, in reality, this engine rarely operates at full capacity. When driving around town, V-6 and V-8 engines are guzzling gas for no reason, as each of their cylinders are still burning air and fuel. 

Cylinder deactivation enhances a vehicle’s fuel efficiency

Cylinder deactivation operates on the principle that when an engine doesn’t need all of its cylinders, some can be shut down to save fuel. This can happen in light driving conditions, when a vehicle isn’t accelerating and doesn’t require extra power. If you have hybrid and electrical mechanic training, here’s how this alternative method of reducing emissions and fuel consumption works.

How Cylinder Deactivation Technology Works

Cylinder deactivation technology works by deactivating some of an engine’s cylinders, typically in a V-6 or V-8 engine. Engines are equipped with cylinders which contain pistons. Pistons move up and down within a cylinder, transferring force from the fuel and air mixture to the central crankshaft. This in turn translates to the spinning of a vehicle’s wheels. When some of these cylinders are deactivated, the intake and exhaust valves close, which are responsible for consuming air and expelling gases. Additionally, no fuel is injected into the cylinder. 

Advancements in vehicle computing power have allowed for cylinder deactivation technology to increase in popularity. Software switches the cylinders off by detecting when they’re not needed, such as when coasting or cruising at a steady speed. These cylinders are reactivated smoothly and automatically when a vehicle requires more power. For drivers, this means that they’re using less fuel and achieving optimized air flow efficiency while still getting the performance benefits of a powerful engine. 

Cylinder deactivation technology shows promise for drivers looking for an alternative to hybrid models

Cylinder Deactivation vs. Hybrid Models

While cylinder deactivation is used for gasoline-powered engines, a hybrid and electric vehicle mechanic will notice that its fuel-economy enhancing capabilities are competitive with some of the technologies used in hybrid vehicles. In fact, cylinder deactivation is used in some mild hybrid powertrains. For example, the Ford Fiesta Van Ecoboost’s Hybrid powertrain is equipped with cylinder deactivation technology to improve its fuel economy even more.

While hybrid vehicles have the assistance of an electric motor, enabling fuel-saving methods such as regenerative braking and automatic stop/start, gasoline engines are adapting fuel-efficient methods to make them more competitive with these increasingly popular vehicles. Cylinder deactivation is one of the ways that gasoline-powered vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient, showing promise for a future of reduced fuel consumption.

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