The Truth About Boxer Engine Cars


rev up your engines, every Thursday I’m going to answer one of the viewers questions and make an entire video on that question, Gennie asks, what do you think about boxer engines well I know quite a bit about them to begin with Karl Benz the Mercedes Benz guy he invented the first boxer engine that was a two cylinder gasoline internal combustion engine with Pistons on opposite sides that are vertical and went back and forth, their horizontally opposed engines they have a single crank in the middle then on either side the Pistons go back and forth they can have two Pistons they can have four Pistons they can have six you can add any amount you want but they’re call boxer cuz they think like boxers with boxing gloves that was their idea Karl invented that way back in 1896 and in the early nineteen hundreds even Henry Ford was thinking about putting a two cylinder boxer engine in his model cars but they never really put any in production he went for a straight four cylinder engine instead, now a big advantage of boxer engines are as long as they have the same number of cylinders on each side they are naturally balanced engines they do not have unbalanced forces inside now they do have a tendency of being noisy engines look at the Porsches and it’s kind of noise and the old Volkswagen Beetles are kind of noisy the old Subarus they’re kind of noisy too but since the cylinders are opposed to each other and flap not V or anything they take up less space so you can put them low down and make a car that handles a lot better and doesn’t have problems with rolling over like a higher engine is the center gravity is a big deal that’s why they use them in motorcycles too, like the BMW motorcycles when you have a big engine that’s down low the center of gravity is lower and that’s a big deal in a motorcycle because you don’t want to be high up in the air and tip over you want most of the weight to be lower and since these boxer engines are naturally balanced they use them in a lot of light planes any unbalances are a bad thing sure they’re smaller engines you don’t see them a giant planes anymore but in the little engines they have them because they’re going real fast they don’t just gonna shake itself apart so they’re a good fit there, now in the car world boxer engines have been always kind of an oddball engine in oddball cars the Chevy Corvair used the 6-cylinder one the Volkswagen Beetles use the original beetles anyways not the new ones the original one used air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engines and the main ones that we think of today are Porsches and Subarus, Subarus have used them that’s all they really use and even the new Toyota which is basically a Subaru that just rebadged their little sports car has the boxer engine in it so the boxer engine it’s kind of a fringe engine that has been used but was never really accepted in the general population of car buyers because especially today this is an old design I mean Karl Benz was messing around and stuff in 1896, metallurgy and engine design have long passed the boxer engines through as an example I recently road tested one of those new Toyota sports cars which is basically a rebadged Subaru and although it handled nice and it’s kind of fun to drive I was really disappointed at the power it really didn’t have much power at all heck my wife’s old matrix here would run circles around and it’s a much faster engine and I was driving a naturally aspirated one it didn’t have a turbocharger or supercharger you can make them faster but really you can’t make them as fast as the modern engine designs which is way past the boxer designed by, I mean if you do a little research a long time ago Porsche was thinking about retiring their 911s their 6-cylinder boxer engines because they saw it as an antique design in Germany but the Americans were just in love with the 6-cylinder boxer 911 so they continued to make it because they kept buying them now if you maintain a boxer engine that can last quite some time they do often have head gasket problems as they age that’s just the natural thing of having the cylinder block in the middle and then having one head on one side and one head on the other and the airflow characteristics and stuff a lot of them just had a tendency as they age to blow head gaskets and yes a lot of that is actually due to the drivers the either over rev them or they don’t maintain them correctly or they put on a turbocharger or supercharger to get as much horsepower as they can and they just overload the engines and then they blow now if you’re not that into getting a ton of horsepower out of it hey, it have those french crazy 2cv little tiny cars they have a two cylinder boxer engine they can hardly get out of their own way but the French love them and here in the United States they’re having kind of a renaissance the hipsters want to drive them around and live in the city because it’s a cool unique thing so even that kind of fits in with the boxer engine sentimentality it’s kind of a nice thing for a niche market and really they have kind of been tied in with failed cars the Corvair had them, they were a massive failure, the Tucker that crazy Tucker guy his was a six cylinder air-cooled boxer engine so it’s kind of tied in with some failed stuff because as far as I’m concerned hey when Carl made them in 1896 that was cutting-edge technology but today this is 2018 now you know times have really passed the boxer engine designed for most intents and purposes because look at the air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle the original Beetle, they sold millions and millions of them but even Volkswagen gave up with that design and went to a straight four-cylinder water-cooled engine design it’s kind of a design of the past but if you like boxer engines you don’t want all that much horsepower you like the noise that they make because they are very mechanically sounding, boxer engine might be for you and since this is the Thursday segment where I answer a viewers question, place your own question on the YouTube comments below and I’ll pick the best ones to make a single video to answer your questions, and where else can you find a guy with 50 years experience of fixing cars to answer your own question with a video, so if you never want to miss another one of my new car repair videos, remember to ring that Bell!

100 thoughts on “The Truth About Boxer Engine Cars

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  2. Oh, I just love Corvair, a friend of mine in high school, we were working in the automotive shop on a teacher’s Corvair, it had multiple carbs which were a main pain to setup.

    We lived near the beach area, taking it down a rural road for a test at 55, the speed limit, towards the inland waterway , we went into a long curve, the middle of which had a huge undeveloped, unpaved road connection. That road was pure sand. It had blown slightly up onto the road bed in the curve dusting it.

    We hit that loose sand, the back in broke loose trying to become the front end. I refused to ride in it again. We did exactly nothing to provoke that other than 55 probably was a little fast for that posted road. But most of the backroads defaulted to that speed especially since it was undeveloped woods along the road.

    I think the only thing worse was that Tiger Sunbeam? We had a female chemistry teacher that had one of those things, man it was light weight and seemed over powered. My favorite car was a MG, same friend owned one, even came with a hand crank for the engine. I couldn’t turn that thing.

  3. Scotty….. may want to reconsider your hand gestures. Also, im suprised you didnt mention how often the Boxer engines will spin bearings.

  4. They might be tied in with failures… but my oh my those Subaru WRX WRCs were some of the best cars on the World Rally stage. Those engines sound incredible and they really did a number on the other manufacturers. Then the restrictions came in…

  5. Look up Subaru F1.
    Say what you will but facts and history has spoken.
    Facts are the Boxer design failed in almost all aspects of competitive performance (power, fuel economy, reliability etc) against non boxer engines.
    Subaru ended up putting a turbo to mask the power deficit and all wheel drive to differentiate and hide the fuel inefficiency.
    Whatever the advantage of lower center of gravity gave it was negligible to the negatives the design gave.

  6. Can you please explain why the Supra, the ultimate Japanese car is now a BMW and slower than Nissan’s Godzilla? What happed to Toyota?

  7. The air conditioning system in my Subaru Legacy tore itself apart and would have caused major collateral damage if I had left it longer. Shockingly bad design and the reason why I'll never buy another Subaru…

  8. Why are Boxer engines still used by Porsche and Subaru if the technology isn't modern enough nowadays? Thinking about buying a Subaru outback, but not sure after watching this video. Any advice out there?

  9. Hey Scotty I just got a 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i it got 37,000 miles on her and I love the car. You think my Subaru is good car?

  10. @4:50 nice spit ball when you say "boxer" get outta the way son. @5:19 spit shower coming your way. Is this a squirting video by chance?

  11. I'm just curious, how much do you TRULY know about boxer engines? Based on your video you have given mostly false information. you seem to know nothing on the subject yet act as though you're an expert. Just to be sure that this video wasn't produced as a joke i checked your channel for other videos. I was appalled at the amount of bad, false, and uneducated information about all aspects of the automotive industry. I guess this day and age anything on the internet can be classified as fact if you yell, spit and act like a complete goof in front of the camera. Please, pick a different subject for your videos where actual facts don't matter (example: gun control or anything from the far left or right media).

    Sincerely,

    The Educated population the the USA

  12. I have a 2012 STI tuned 2.5L pushing 400whp on stock internals and easily runs on pump gas or E-85. So… keep the car properly cool and you shouldn’t worry about the head gasket issues. Change your oil regularly and even more if you romp on it. The only issue I’ve had on it was replacing the stock radiator fan. I think your bias is showing a bit.

  13. Model T's had inline 4 engines. Therefore, inline 4 engines are "basically an old design".

    I hope there were a lot of intentionally not well thought out statements in this video just to troll for activity in the comments section.

  14. I purchased an 2013 Scion FR-S with 47k miles and put 7k miles on it . I did had extended warranty to fix my transmission bearings but I chose to go with a real 2016 Toyota Corolla s stick shift with 33 k miles since I love the sounds of inclines better and they take 87 instead of premium and last longer than boxer engine

  15. Says boxer engines don't produce bug power.
    Forgets the subaru engines making 250- 310 bhp all day everyday since the 90s

    Porsche been making 400bhp since forever .

    Picks the brz as an example when it was toyota 's shitty politics that neutered the brz platform to begin with

  16. I have something from 1980 with a boxer engine in it. It has 200,000 miles on it without an overhaul. It outlasted 2 previous owners. It redlines at 8000 rpm & I full throttle redline it on a regular basis. It burns only a small amount of oil through the valve seals but it will still do 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds and the quarter mile in under 13. It normally gets 50 mpg but if I run the bejeebers out of it it gets 35. It will still pull the front end off the ground a couple of inches sometimes when I'm not expecting it. What is it? It's a "naked" Goldwing (the one without the fairing). If boxer engines were so inherently crappy compared to say a "v" engine, then why don't Harley engines go 200,000 miles when you run their guts out? I can't think of too many I4, V2, V4 sub 13 second bikes (or I4, V6 cars) that can go over 200k without a rebuild either if you run them hard on a regular basis. If anything it would have to be another Honda.

  17. OK, in a horizontally opposed engine, a so-called boxer engine, the pistons are opposed at a 180 degree angle. In a V engine, a V-6 or V-8 engine, or a V-4 engine, the pistons are opposed at an angle other than 180 degrees, perhaps around 60 degrees, or 90 degrees. Other than having a different angle, what, if anything, makes a horizontally opposed engine any different than a V engine?

  18. I always found Scotty knowledgeable but he missed it on this one. He argues that the boxer cylinder arrangement is "old technology" which is an unrelated issue. Technology is things like direct injection, double overhead cams, variable displacement cylinders, etc. All of those are equally applicable to boxer engines or other layouts. I'm pretty sure the I-4 cylinder configuration so common today is older than the boxer layout. Certain Subaru/boxer engines are prone to head gasket problems, but that's a design problem, not a problem with the horizontally opposed boxer configuration. And cars like the Corvair and Tucker failed for marketing reasons. Ralph Nader killed the corner hugging Corvair with his book "Unsafe at any speed". Tuckers just never took off. All other things being equal, I'd take a boxer engine over an inline or V engine every time.

  19. So I put in the search for, "The Boxer" from Simon and Garfunkel. Your video came up in the search. Seen it before. Interesting to people sang it in synchrony. But they had their differences just like the engine. As they said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement Halls."

    "I'm just a poor boy. Then my sorry is seldom told."

  20. It's videos like this that make me think Scotty doesn't know his stuff. My 2liter turbo boxer has been making 350+ hp for 100,000 miles. Tons of Porsche owners would also agree. These engines have modern metallurgy and horsepower and the low center of gravity is noticeable and makes a difference in how Subarus and Porshces drive. I have owned 5 Subarus. Best cars ever.

  21. My son bought a new Subaru, with a boxer engine. It's back in the shop. Overheats and getting oil in the water system and the heater stopped working. Flushed it out last year problem came back again. Car is junk. What's going on Scotty. He never beat the car. Drove it normally.

  22. I WEAR A CLEAN HAIRCUT AND I HATE THESE HIPSTERS….. I HOPE THESE HIPSTERS WHO HAVE THEIR PARENTS BUY THEM AN STI, I HOPE THEY DIE.

  23. Daily driver is a 2001 Subaru Outback. Bought it new, has over 412K miles and still going strong. Not very powerful, but extremely reliable.

  24. Scotty, Scotty, Scotty, "you can't make 'em (horizontally apposed engine) as fast as a modern engine design" you must be joking mate!
    the layout of an engine, whether it is horizontally apposed (like most Porsche or Subaru engines) or a "V" or inline has nothing
    to do with being "modern" or not. And having said; that the normally aspirated (non turbo) Subaru 3.6 puts out over 250hp, and the
    NON turbo 911 GT3 puts out a retina detaching 0-120MPH in 3.6 seconds. And IMHO the reason they are not widely used in the
    automotive (extremely common for aircraft engines though, Rolls Royce-Continental, Franklin, and Lycoming for example) industry is because of cost.

  25. Hey Scotty, I've got an 02 Chevy Suburban 1500 and I've been struggling with finding out why my gas tank wont fill all the way, it only fills to 12 and won't fill anymore. I've replaced the Charcoal Canister, Evap Solinoid and havent found the source. Any advice?

  26. Its an old engine?? The same as all piston engines?? And you can’t tune them as much as a inline 4? Sorry what? 😂😂 usually your fairly smart in your videos but in this example you haven’t got a clue!

    The hell have you done to your wifes matrix for it to be faster than a BRZ/GT86? Clueless

  27. You’re definitely wrong with this one. Most modern cars that use boxer engines make almost 300hp if not more. Almost all inline or straight 4s still aren’t even in the 200hp range

  28. Dear Scotty, technology has advanced from wearing glasses to contacts also….but just like you still wear glasses, some of us still LOVE our boxer engines!!!

  29. I'm a 60 yr old guy looking for a new car/suv, I live up north lots of snow, I want a Toyota but I keep getting intriqued by the Subaru abilities in snow, I also like the hydai kona,most will be me and one other person in car.

  30. How can a mechanic like Scotty forget to mention about the Alfa Romeu boxer engines.
    1.7 that goes 200km/h in 4 gear?
    Our 2.0 legacy cant do that.

    Lets not talk about Alfas reliability😋

  31. A good video. I do not like boxer engines. The standard inline 4 cylinder engine has much more power than any standard 4 cylinder boxer engine. The boxer engined Subaru that I owned for a while had head cooling problems from new and it had oil leaks from 10,000 miles on. I sold it at 12,000 miles and bought a simple 4 cylinder Toyota Corolla that had more power better fuel economy and no mechanical problems. A good video Scotty and keep them coming.

  32. My '17 twin-scroll turbo WRX has the best sounding exhaust, and it's a freaking rocket! Subies are bitchin', dude!

  33. after taking my 2011 Subaru Impreza sport sedan to a dealer having a oil change I normally used synthetic oil they put regular oil in it it now uses oil about a quart between oil changes can my engine be fixed or what.

  34. You know Scotty? With all your videos about the negativity of certain cars and their specifications, I MAY AS WELL NEVER DRIVE A CAR AT ALL! I’ll go back to the horses that you probably rode during the Progressive Era. P.s. you spit a TON when you talk… my god

  35. Loads of bulls: noisy ? Yeah , only because you consider air cooled bri. Alfa and Lancia boxer aren't noisier than 4 pots water cooled. They even sound nicer. Old design ? wtf are you talking about ? Any piston engines, petrol and diesel are old designed. BRZ is disappointing in terms of perf ? Dude, the engine is a high reving 2.0 NA H4 of 200 hp. Put a K20 in it and you'll have the same amount of perfs. Again it ain't the boxer but the displacement and the non forced inducted. Take a 992, and tell me the H6 design is outdated and not well performing ? And the 997 4.0 GT3 RS as well ?

  36. VW gave up on the boxer because they were easily user serviceable and vw main dealers weren't making enough bucks out of servicing and repairs.

  37. You never really explained WHY they were passed up? Could it be because by adding a simple counterweight you can have an inline 4 cylinder engine with only one cylinder head, one head gasket, one timing chain, etc?

  38. I love the way the Boxer 4 cyl sounds. Put an exhaust on it and that deep rumble is just amazing to hear. That's why people love the WRX and Impreza hell even the Forester STI sounds great.

  39. For some reason I want to own a WRC subaru from 97 and 2001. I just love the loud sound of the engine, transmission, stones, brake. And that feeling when everything is working at 110% power, your doing some G's whilst driving through a forest at 217km/h *and for some reason you find yourself in SUOMI* .

  40. Have a 69 vw truck , love the mechanical sound of the old air cooled boxer engines, slow revs, not much power, poor gas mileage but is geared to maintain a decent cruising speed and has a 9' bed.

  41. The pushrod boxer like the vw is an archaic design. The modern suby is not. Its dohc, they have vvt etc. Ever look at the heads? Stop bullshitting there Scotty!

  42. Hy Scotty I planing to upgrade my old 2005 Honda Pilot for a 2016 Honda Pilot but the new engine it’s direct injection let me know if I doing a good choice thanks

  43. So rather than showing maybe something like a Cessna-150 with a continental boxer 4, you show an airplane with a radial engine on the front. I wonder how many other people picked up on that?

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