The inline-four engine or straight-four engine is an internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 with all four cylinders
Cylinder (engine)
A cylinder is the central working part of a reciprocating engine or pump, the space in which a piston travels. Multiple cylinders are commonly arranged side by side in a bank, or engine block, which is typically cast from aluminum or cast iron before receiving precision machine work...

 mounted in a straight line, or plane along the crankcase
In an internal combustion engine of the reciprocating type, the crankcase is the housing for the crankshaft. The enclosure forms the largest cavity in the engine and is located below the cylinder, which in a multicylinder engine are usually integrated into one or several cylinder blocks...

. The single bank of cylinders may be oriented in either a vertical or an inclined plane with all the piston
A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pumps, gas compressors and pneumatic cylinders, among other similar mechanisms. It is the moving component that is contained by a cylinder and is made gas-tight by piston rings. In an engine, its purpose is to transfer force from...

s driving a common crankshaft
The crankshaft, sometimes casually abbreviated to crank, is the part of an engine which translates reciprocating linear piston motion into rotation...

. Where it is inclined, it is sometimes called a slant-four. In a specification chart or when an abbreviation is used, an inline-four engine is listed either as I4 or L4 (for longitudinal, to avoid confusion between the digit 1 and the letter I).

The inline-four layout is in perfect primary balance
Engine balance
Engine balance is the design, construction and tuning of an engine to run smoothly. Improving engine balance reduces vibration and other stresses and can improve the overall performance, efficiency, cost of ownership and reliability of the engine, as well as reducing the stress on other machinery...

 and confers a degree of mechanical simplicity which makes it popular for economy cars.