DOHC 16V Engine – What is it?

I own a 2018 Hyundai Elantra with 2.0L DOHC 16V engine and one of the questions I get asked a lot by fellow car enthusiasts is why I opted for a car with DOHC 16v engine.

DOHC, also known as Dual Overhead Camshaft is an upgrade from the SOHC introduced for improved efficiency.

In this post, I’ll explain what the DOHC and 16-valve engines mean, their configuration, and their performance.

dohc 16 valve engine in a hyundai

What Does DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft) Mean and How Does it Work?

DOHC is an engine configuration that implements a 4-valve per cylinder which includes two valves for intake and the other two for exhaust.

This configuration has a better valve lift that results in improved airflow through the combustion chamber.

When you dismantle a DOHC engine, you’ll find that there are intake and exhaust valves on the engine head, cam followers, and two independent camshafts.

This allows all the camshaft lobes to directly operate the valves rather than using rocker arms like in SOHC.

What Does 16v Mean in a Car?

The term “16v” in a car refers to the engine’s valve train configuration. It means that the car has a 16-valve engine. These valves control the flow of air and fuel into and out of the combustion chambers.

In contrast, an engine with an 8v designation would only have 8 valves, while a 24v engine would have 24 valves.

More valves enhance engine breathing, improving performance and fuel efficiency. Cylinder count, displacement, and forced induction also impact engine power.

What Does DOHC 16v Mean?

A DOHC 16V engine is characterized by having two overhead camshafts and a total of 16 valves, contributing to enhanced performance and efficiency in comparison to simpler engine configurations.


SOHC and DOHC are indications of how valves are configured in an engine.

SOHC (single overhead camshaft) uses one camshaft for both intake and exhaust valves while DOHC has two for intake and exhaust valves.

SOHC EnginesDOHC Engines
Uses a single shaft to drive all valvesUses two independent shafts tp drive the valves
Less weight due to fewer componentsComplex design which increases production cost
Better torque at low to mid-range RPMImproved efficiency with better airflow
Cost-effective at manufacturingMakes the engine capable of revving up to a higher RPM
Fuel efficient due to fewer parts consuming energyBetter top-end torque and increased horsepower
The camshaft being at the center denies the ideal location for spark plugsCapable of implementing efficiency-enhancing technologies like VVT

Cars with DOHC Engines

Here are some car brands and models that use DOHC engines:

  1. Honda Civic Type R: The Honda Civic Type R often uses a DOHC engine, contributing to its sporty performance.
  2. Ford Mustang GT: The Ford Mustang GT is known for its powerful engines, and some models feature DOHC configurations for enhanced performance.
  3. Mazda MX-5 Miata: The Mazda MX-5 Miata, a popular sports car, may come equipped with a DOHC engine.
  4. Toyota Camry V6: Some trims of the Toyota Camry, particularly those with V6 engines, utilize DOHC configurations.
  5. Audi A4: Audi often incorporates DOHC engines in its A4 model, known for its combination of luxury and performance.
  6. Subaru WRX STI: The Subaru WRX STI, a high-performance variant of the WRX, typically features a DOHC engine.
  7. Nissan 370Z: The Nissan 370Z, a sports car, is equipped with a DOHC engine for responsive and dynamic driving.
  8. BMW 3 Series: BMW’s 3 Series is a lineup of luxury compact cars that often use DOHC engines to balance performance and efficiency.
  9. Lexus IS 350: The Lexus IS 350, a luxury sedan, is known for its powerful V6 engine with a DOHC configuration.
  10. Chevrolet Corvette: The Chevrolet Corvette, a classic American sports car, often features a DOHC engine for high-performance driving.

Is a 16 Valve Engine a 4 Cylinder?

A 16-valve engine is not always a 4-cylinder. The number of valves an engine has does not relate to the number of cylinders it has.

A lot of 4-cylinder engines have 16 valves. There are also 4-cylinder engines with fewer valves, such as 8 or 12 valves.

Similarly, there are engines with more than 4 cylinders that have 16 valves, such as some V6 or V8 engines.

The valve count is chosen based on the designer’s goal for optimal engine performance.

The combustion chamber shape, piston design, and fuel delivery systems influence this. Also, the engine’s design depends on its intended use and the manufacturer’s goal.

Is a DOHC 16v Engine Good?

My 2.0L DOHC 16v Hyundai has been awesome since I got it. From my observation so far, it outperforms cars with SOHC engines.

This is obviously because the 16-valve setup (four valves per cylinder) enhances breathing for more power.

Is a 16 Valve Engine a V6?

A 16-valve engine is not necessarily a V6. The number of valves refers to the total count of intake and exhaust valves in an engine.

A V6, on the other hand, specifies the engine’s cylinder configuration – it has six cylinders arranged in a V-shaped configuration.

How Many Cylinders is a 16 Valve Engine?

The valve count and cylinder configuration are independent characteristics of an engine.

You can have a 16-valve engine that is a four-cylinder (I4), six-cylinder (V6), or even an eight-cylinder (V8), depending on its design.

What Size Engine is a DOHC 16V?

The term “DOHC 16V” doesn’t specify the size of the engine directly but rather describes its configuration. It indicates that the engine has a Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) setup and 16 valves.

The size or displacement of the engine is typically indicated by a numerical value, often expressed in liters (L) or cubic centimeters (cc). For example, a “2.0L DOHC 16V” engine means it has a displacement of 2.0 liters.


The DOHC 16v engine has 4 valves per cylinder, totaling 16 valves. It differs from the SOHC, which has only one camshaft, by having two camshafts.

If you have an option to choose between DOHC and SOHC, I would recommend you go for a DOHC based on my experience with a 2018 Hyundai with 2.0L l4 DOHC 16-valve.

The extra valves and camshaft ensure that you get a better performance from your engine.