Projections show that the global automotive cylinder head market will reach a size of $20.23 billion by 2025.
Advancements in technologies have led to various types of cylinder heads being developed. When buying a new cylinder head, there are plenty of options, so it’s best to know what the advantages of each are before you make your purchase.
For more on the different types of cylinder heads available, keep reading.
What Are Cylinder Heads?
A cylinder head sits on top of your engine block and contains various components. It covers many of the moving parts of the engine, and its design will affect how your engine performs.
Iron and aluminum are both often used to make cylinder heads. The choice of material depends on the application. As a crucial part of the engine, a cylinder head has some properties that must always be present:
- High ductility
- High strength
- High thermal conductivity
- High creep resistance (under extreme temperatures)
- Good casting properties
- Low porosity
Cylinder heads come in a range of sizes and designs, so you should check a cylinder head chart to ensure you get one that is suitable for your car.
Flathead Cylinder Head
These have a simple design and are the oldest type of cylinder head. Made from a single piece of metal, they have no mechanical parts, which makes them the easiest and cheapest type to manufacture. They’re also more lightweight and compact than other types.
The valves cause the intake gas to flow awkwardly at a 90° angle as they’re located on the sides. This results in inefficient combustion and a low compression ratio. On top of this, they can exhibit cooling problems.
Nowadays, these are rarely seen in cars and are generally only found in small engines such as tractors, lawnmowers, and other farm equipment.
Overhead Valve (OHV) Cylinder Head
One of the main differences between this and the flathead type is that the valve train components are contained within the cylinder head, as well as the spark plugs and the intake/exhaust gas passageways.
This setup provides improved performance and efficiency from the exhaust ports. Flathead cylinder heads also heat up much quicker than OHV types. The arrangement of these helps to simplify the drive system, which in turn enhances the timing system.
All of these benefits have led to OHV cylinder heads becoming far more popular than flathead cylinder heads in recent years.
Overhead Camshaft (OHC) Cylinder Head
Like OHV cylinder heads these have the spark plugs, valve train components, and intake/exhaust ports built into their design, and they even contain the camshaft. The camshaft is often located in the center of the cylinder head, but this varies between different models.
Single configuration OHC cylinder heads have a single camshaft that controls the intake and exhaust valves. Dual configurations are also available which have two camshafts – each one operating the valves separately.
Dual configuration models are more expensive to manufacture, but they also perform better.
If you have the budget and want to get the most out of your car, you should look into performance heads.
The Right Cylinder Head for You
It is safe to say that if you’re looking for a new cylinder head, you should avoid flathead models. The decision between OHV and OHC comes down to your needs. An OHV cylinder head will do the job, but if you really want your car to perform, then UHC cylinder heads may be a better option.
If you’re interested in more automotive articles, check out some of our other blog posts.