A car is an important part of many individuals’ daily lives. Driving a car can be stressful, but it can also give you some relaxation and pleasure. Knowing about car basics will help with an overall better understanding of how it works and what to do in different situations.
We will talk about 20 parts that are helpful to know when driving a car. Just sitting in the driver’s seat, holding the steering wheel, and pushing on the gas peddle doesn’t make a good driver. You may be skilled, but knowledge is power. Here is the list of auto parts that you should know before driving a car:
- Fuel Injector
- A/C Compressor
- Engine Fan
- Car Jack
- Spare Tire
- Shock Absorbers
- Air filter
- Spark Plug
- Catalytic Converter
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Power Steering Fluid
A very famous quote from Cicero says, “the safety of the people shall be the highest law, “ which for car owners means taking care of our safety and those of others is key. A good car driver can avoid accidents and will know what to do if their car has a flat tire or engine troubles. Let’s find out more about what parts are helpful to know.
There are hundreds of parts on a car, but we only need to start with a few parts. Repairing and maintaining a car will be important as you use your car over time. The more you know about your car, the better you can take care of it and make sure others are fixing it properly.
We will now look at various parts that may help you in the future as you drive your car. Ultimately this knowledge about your car will save you money because you are informed.
List of Auto Parts That You Should Know
|Car Parts 1-5||Car Parts 6-10||Car Parts 11-15||Car Parts 16-20|
|Battery||A/C Compressor||Spare Tire||Catalytic Converter|
|Axle||Engine Fan||Shock Absorbers||Tire Pressure Gauge|
|Fuel Injector||Clutch||Air filter||Alternator|
|Piston||Car Jack||Spark Plug||Power Steering Fluid|
Useful Information about the Auto Parts
The battery in a car is rechargeable. It supplies power (electric energy) to the car. Normally this battery is used to help provide power to start the car, and then it is used only when extra power is needed. The car battery alone can’t supply power to all the electrical systems. The alternator does this.
The battery is connected to your lights and car accessories, like the radio, when the engine is off. Leaving the lights or radio on too long will drain the battery. If you don’t leave it on too long, your car’s battery will recharge during about a 30-minute drive.
A completely or partially (below 10.5 Volts) drained battery is not good. It causes damage to the battery. It is advisable to turn off car lights and accessories soon after the car engine has stopped.
Check the battery every 6 months to see if the terminals need cleaning and cleaning if needed.
Usually, your car has two kinds of braking systems. The first one is the brakes pedal that you use to stop the car as you press on it with your foot. The second break system is the emergency break. It works independently from the pedal and sometimes looks like a rod you pull up on or a small pedal you press down on.
Modern cars have hydraulic braking systems. They use pressure applied at the brake pedal to pressurize the brake pistons, which helps apply force to the brakes. Regular care should be taken to replace brake pads when needed and maintain parts in good working order. This can save your life as well as save your money.
The axle is a bar or shaft used in turning the wheels. The transmission helps turn the axle, which turns the wheels. There is sometimes a front axle and a back axle that usually has a differential in the middle that joins the front pair of tires and back pair, so they move at the same time. Since an axle is a solid metal, it is difficult to break it.
If more weight is added, the turning capacity of the axle will drop down. The worst enemy of an axle is rust. It gradually leads to faulty performance sometimes; it also causes a breakdown. Cleaning the undercarriage if salt is used on the road and driving carefully on rough roads will protect your axle.
4. Fuel Injector
This small part helps provide fuel to the engine. It uses a nozzle to deliver just the right amount of fuel to the combustion chamber. It is electronically controlled and helps with fuel efficiency.
The efficiency of diesel and gas engines has been increased over time through the use of fuel injectors over time. A clogged injector might cause poor idling and lower engine performance. If you clean the fuel injector, then your car may perform better.
An average car will have four to six pistons in the engine. Pistons move when an explosion of gas occurs in the combustion chamber. As the pistons move, they turn the crankshaft, helping the car to deliver power to the tires, so the car can move.
The speed of the engine is directly proportional to the moving pistons. When fuel and air mix together and enter the combustion chamber, they are ignited by the spark plugs, creating an explosion that moves the piston. These pistons are cylinders that move up and down.
The faster pistons move, the more RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute) your car has. Running your car too fast can create problems with your pistons. Like the fuel injectors, pistons can get dirty and may need cleaning to perform their best.
6. A/C Compressor
The air that is blown inside your car’s cabin can be cold. The A/C compressor is at the heart of this process. It compresses refrigerant, so the refrigerant can change from a gas to a liquid. When it’s gas, it can absorb heat, making the air cold as it blows over it.
The AC compressor can operate well as long as there are no leaks in the system or other problems, like a broken radiator fan. If you get your car serviced regularly, they should check the AC system. If not, make sure to check it yourself. Damage can occur if the A/C Compressor encounters different issues, like refrigerant leaks.
The radiator is used to help the engine cool down so it can operate without overheating. It cools the radiator fluid that goes through the engine, where it is heated up. As it travels back to the radiator, the heat is transferred to the metal fins, and air as the fan blows over it.
A radiator keeps your car engine running at normal operating temperature. The coolant (antifreeze) in the radiator can change the boiling and freezing point of the water that is mixed with it (normal 50% water and 50% antifreeze).
The radiator can also send hot coolant to the heater core in your car cabin to heat up your air on cold days. To maintain your radiator, always make sure to have a water and antifreeze mix to prevent rust, and check for leaks if needed. Hoses and connection points are also areas to look at if you suspect a leak.
Lastly, if the radiator has dirt or particles covering the metal fins, make sure to clean it off.
8. Engine Fan
Fans are known for being very reliable. Your car’s fan cools the radiator (with antifreeze inside) and condenser (with refrigerant inside). This helps the engine and AC system maintain the proper operating temperatures.
To maintain the fan, check for anything that could block the fan. The engine fan can blow particles into the fins of the radiator and condenser, blocking airflow. Clean off any debris from the metal fins of the radiator and condenser to prevent overheating.
The clutch is a mechanism that helps to transfer power from the engine to the transmission. In a manual transmission car, also known as a stick shift, the clutch is operated by the clutch pedal. The clutch pedal is located on the left side of the other two pedals.
When you step on the clutch, the power from the engine is no longer going to the wheels. This allows you to change gears and increase or decrease the power and speed of the wheels.
The clutch helps with the smooth transfer of engine power to the transmission, so the transmission can deliver power to your tires. If you change to a higher gear, the clutch helps you change which gears are used in the transmission, providing faster speeds.
The usage of a manual transmission (stick shift) gives you more control over the vehicle. When compared to an automatic transmission, a manual transmission can be cost-efficient and can be easier to fix. To maintain your clutch, learn to use it correctly and drive at normal speeds.
10. Car Jack
A car jack is a simple device that helps to lift the car when you need to change a tire. There are many types of car jacks that can lift lighter or heavier cars. Your car should have an emergency car jack included.
Some car jacks are mechanical, and some are hydraulic. A hydraulic car jack is often easier to use but heavier, and most people store them in the garage, not their car.
Using a car jack is essential if you have a flat tire and need to put on a spare tire. Always be very careful (see article) when using a jack since the car could potentially fall if the jack is not secure. You’ll need a leg nut wrench (usually included), the jack, and the handle. Place the jack on secure flat ground and jack it up the car.
Keep a jack and spare tire in the car at all times to prevent long waits or being left alone and by yourself.
11. Spare Tire
The spare tire is an important part of driving a car. It provides peace of mind and the ability to drive your car until you get your flat tire fixed. This safety precautionary will help in case your car tire runs flat. Whether you do it yourself or have someone help you, changing your tires will help you get to where you need to go without having to wait for long periods.
Later you can replace the damaged tire and put it back on. A spare tire should only be used temporarily and replaced with the tire your car had previously. Whether it’s a smaller spare tire or a regular-sized tire, after the tire is replaced, reinstall it on the car.
Spare tires that are not full-size may be capable of only 50 mph and shouldn’t be used on the freeway. They are meant to be used for very short periods.
The spare tire can be put away so it can be used again later if needed. To make sure you are ready at any time for a flat tire, ensure the spare tire is pressurized to the correct PSI and inspect it every 6 months.
The transmission is how the car changes gears. It allows a car to climb up steep hills and move quickly. Sometimes it is called the gearbox. The transmission helps to transfer the energy from the engine to the wheel axle, where energy is applied to the wheels of the car.
Most cars have automatic transmissions, but some cars are manual transmissions. You can find cars for a lower price that have a manual transmission (stick shift), and many sports cars also use these.
The manual transmission is cost-efficient, but when compared to the modern automatic transmission, the automatic transmission may save money in fuel costs. Still, the manual transmission is cheaper and easier for mechanics to work on.
To keep the transmission working well, inspect the transmission fluid levels every month and its color about every 6 months. After about 30,000 miles of driving is a good time to change the transmission fluid, depending on the car. A sealed transmission will usually last quite a bit longer.
13. Shock Absorbers
A shock absorber is a device used to dampen the bumps and rough spots in the road. There are various types, including pneumatic (gas-filled), magnetic, hydraulic (liquid filled), and some also add springs.
The shock absorber will absorb the vibrations caused while driving. When a car is in motion, you can feel the vibration from the tires throughout the car. A shock absorber can take that energy and smooth out the ride.
To make sure your ride stays comfortable for the passengers, different cars use different types of shocks. A sports car will absorb bumps differently than a luxury sedan.
Maintaining your shock is a matter of noticing when they no longer work well. Damage could occur if your shocks don’t absorb a bump, making your car touch the ground or bottom out.
14. Air Filter
There are generally two types of air filters in your car. The first kind of air filter is for the engine of your car. The other air filter cleans the air coming into the cabin, so passengers have clean air.
The engine needs air for combustion, and it is drawn through the filter into the combustion chamber. Dirt and particles in the air could create problems if not filtered. In addition, a dirty filter blocks airflow. So changing the air filter when dirty will prevent damage and give better fuel economy.
The cabin air filter, usually found inside the car cabin, will prevent dirt and particles from coming outside. Some air filters are good at filtering dust and tiny particles if you have allergies.
15. Spark Plug
A spark plug is used in the combustion chamber to ignite the gas/fuel. It is timed to work with the cylinder and goes as slow or as fast as the engine RPMs. The spark must be effective in order for combustion to occur correctly. A misfire, rough idling, or knocking can occur when spark plugs are not working correctly.
To check your spark plugs, you’ll need to be aware of how your engine is running. Replacement might be needed if the symptoms mentioned are occurring. You can also pull out the plug(s) and look at their condition. If it is very dirty, it needs to be replaced. The life span of a spark can be from 10,000 miles to 100,000 miles depending on the type and engine factors.
16. Catalytic Converter
The catalytic converter filters harmful gases (carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and oxides of nitrogen), so only water and carbon dioxide come out. This helps the environment.
The exhaust from the engine goes into the catalytic converter, gets filtered, then enters the muffler. The catalytic converter can last the life of the car, but it can also get clogged or damaged. Usually, you won’t need to worry about the catalytic converter, but if you suspect a problem, make sure to get it replaced if needed.
Always make sure to replace one if it is broken. Driving without it is illegal. It is an easily fixable part, although it may be quite expensive.
If you’ve ever been in a loud environment and put on your headphone, you may have noticed the sound is dampened quite a bit.
A similar process happens with the muffler. The very loud noises that come from the engine are canceled out and reduced by reflecting off the walls of several chambers in the muffler. The sound that is then left exits the muffler and is released. Mufflers are great at reducing sound, and the engine would produce very loud noises without them.
Make sure you have a legal muffler, so you don’t get pulled over. Some people want to use less restrictive mufflers to help modify their cars to pull in more oxygen and perform better. If you hear loud engine noises from your car, get your muffler checked.
18. Tire Pressure Gauge
This device is not a part of a car; rather, it can be used to measure tire pressure. Your tires need to be checked every month or more often if needed. Tires with the correct air pressure will cause less tire wear, get better gas mileage, have better shock absorption on the road, and give better handling.
The correct tire pressure is usually located on a sticker you’ll see if you open the driver’s side door. Even if the tires appear full, check them because each tire sits a bit differently. Try to get as close to the PSI (pounds per square inch) for each tire as possible without going over.
The alternator helps power the electrical system of the car. After the batteries help start the engine, the alternator takes over by producing electrical power to charge the battery and help power the car’s electrical needs. As the engine runs, it helps move the belt that is connected to the alternator, so it can produce energy.
To ensure the alternator is working well, you can check the belt connected to it and ensure it is tight. Another way to ensure your alternator is doing its job is to check the wire connections to the alternator and the car battery. This will help you know if the connections are good.
The alternator needs to be replaced if it no longer charges the battery or stops working. If you use a multimeter, you can check the health (see video) of the alternator yourself.
20. Power Steering Fluid
Most cars have power steering. The power steering system helps pump power steering fluid to the hydraulic piston. The piston helps make turning the wheels easier. To ensure that everything is working correctly, you can check the power steering fluid level around every month and the color every 6 months.
While checking the power steering reservoir, notice if the fluid level is low. Fill to the correct level is needed. If you suspect a leak check the hoses in the power steering system and replace them if needed.
If you notice the fluid color is fairly dark, it’s probably gone past the replacement date. It should be replaced according to the owner’s manual suggests.
These 20 items are helpful to be aware of when you are driving a car. They can help you maintain your car and understand what is happening if your car has issues. There are many more car parts to be aware of that you may not have considered. To learn more about specific parts or repairs, use the search bar to find what you’re looking for.