Subaru recently reached a milestone with its 15-millionth boxer engine, marking 49 years of the company's ingenuity. To celebrate this achievement, here's a discussion about the boxer engine and the reasons for its well-deserved accolades.
To understand the boxer engine, it's important to fathom one of the recurring problems of the combustion engine: vibration. Anything that produces an explosion is followed by an explosive force; in this case, the force from the combustion chamber. This is normal for today's engines, but they pose some problems.
To put it bluntly, the force can knock some engine parts loose, resulting in serious safety issues. Pistons installed in an inline or V-type configuration expend the explosive force to nothingness, causing the vibrations. Engineers are forced to install special components to address the issue but at the expense of increased maintenance.
Somehow, the resulting force has to go somewhere, at least to counteract another force. That's where Subaru got the idea for its boxer engine. By positioning the pistons horizontally, forces produced by the combustion slam into each other and cancel out. It won't eliminate vibrations, but less vibrations means longer life for the engine.