We take cars for granted in our society. They are everywhere. We rely on them every day to get where we need to go. But how often do we stop to think about what sophisticated pieces of machinery automobiles are? Because the truth is they are very complex. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify some of the most basic car parts and know what they do.
We’ve come up with a little quiz you can use to test your knowledge about automotive parts. Try to guess the identity of each part based on a photo and a description of what it does. The correct answer will follow the description in bold–if you’re challenging yourself, don’t read ahead until you’ve made your guess!
This part removes contaminants from the automotive oil before they can enter the engine and cause damage. It also allows you to use oil much longer without changing it. It typically attaches to the underside of the engine, and the most common type screws onto its mount on the engine block. Don’t forget to change this part when you change your engine oil.
A part of the suspension system, this component smooths a car’s passage over rough terrain by converting kinetic energy into heat, which then dissipates. This process improves handling as well as making the ride more enjoyable for the occupants. Without this part, driving a car over anything but the flattest ground would be a very unpleasant experience!
The combustion engines in automobiles produce toxic chemicals as a byproduct; this device reduces the amount of pollutants released into the air by changing carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. Modern types also cut down on the amount of nitrogen oxides that are released, making the car more environmentally friendly.
When the engine is running, this part charges the car’s battery while also providing power to the electrical system. The very first cars used a generator in place of this part, but they were phased out when greater power was required due to the introduction of more electronic components. This part does most of the work providing the car with electricity–if it stops working, the battery alone cannot keep the car powered for long!
This component keeps the engine from overheating by circulating coolant through the car’s engine block. The coolant heats up inside the engine and then returns to this part, where it loses heat to the surrounding air before it goes back into the engine. This part is located in front of the engine and typically works in conjunction with a water pump and axial fan to keep the engine within safe operating temperatures.
Older cars used carburetors to introduce fuel into the engine, but during the 1980s and ‘90s, carburetors were largely replaced by this part. Whereas carburetors use suction to draw fuel into the engine, this device atomizes the fuel through a high-pressure nozzle. It is designed for the specific type of fuel that the car will use, and some types are sophisticated enough to use several grades of fuel.
This part is critical to the car’s very ability to move! It uses a series of gears to adapt the energy output of the engine and use it to turn the car’s wheels; in the process, the engine’s high speed of rotation is reduced to the slower rate at which the wheels rotate. This device has multiple gear ratios, or “gears,” that are appropriate for different speeds of travel, and they are selected either manually or automatically, depending on the specific car.
Just as contaminated oil will damage the engine, so will contaminated air, and that’s why this part is important. It is typically located inside a plastic box connected to the air intake system, where it prevents abrasive particles from entering the engine. Don’t forget to change this often-overlooked part to improve your engine’s performance!
A component of the braking system, this is a steel-backed plate with friction material on one side that faces the disc brake rotor. When the brakes are applied, a pair of these parts are squeezed together against the rotor; the resulting friction slows the car’s wheels and creates heat as a byproduct. Many automobiles use disc brakes as opposed to drum brakes, and with disc brakes, this part does all the work of safely bringing your car to a stop.
Automobile engines keep themselves running through the repeated combustion process–but only after they have already started. Something else is required to begin the engine’s operation, and this is where our final component comes into play. When you turn your key in the ignition, your car’s battery sends power to this part, which in turn starts the engine. The sound you hear before your engine starts is this part in action!
1. Oil Filter
2. Shock Absorber/Damper
3. Catalytic Converter
6. Fuel Injector
7. Transmission or Gearbox
8. Air Filter
9. Brake Pad
10. Starter or Starter Motor
How did you do on our quiz? Did you know most of the parts, or do you need to do some brushing up on your automotive knowledge? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget that all of these parts are crucial to the proper functioning of your automobile, and as such it’s important to replace them when they go bad. If you’re the do-it-yourself type and are looking for something simple like an oil filter or air filter, head over to the Parts Department Webpage to order your part. If you’re in need of something that’s a little more difficult to replace, like shock absorbers or an alternator, visit the Service Department Webpage to schedule a service appointment.
However you did on the quiz, it’s never a bad idea to learn more about your car and how it works. Wikipedia has a very informative list of automotive parts that can teach you a lot and may even introduce you to parts you didn’t know existed. Remember: knowledge is power!