following is a brief course in how a car works.
well worth the reading before you get into the "HOW-TO"
Instructions pertaining to specific maintenance and repair jobs.
how your car runs can make the difference between a fair repair and a
have been known to take advantage of a customer's lack of knowledge,
inventing expensive solutions where there is no problem.
a qualified and honest mechanic doesn't require luck,
requires a basic understanding of how cars run.
section of FUNdamentals
of Auto Maintenance & Repairs
what each system does, what its component parts are called, where to
look for them in your car, and how they relate to one another to make
the vehicle run.
worry about what model you own; every vehicle with an internal
combustion engine works on the
observing your vehicle as a series of simple systems,
with a specific job to do,
may not seem as scary as a dismaying collection of wires, hoses, and gadgets.
you've gotten a general idea of how things work, we will explore
each system in detail.
when you've become familiar with how a system functions,
will make "The How To Sections" alot more understandable!
car manufacturer makes sure to do things a little bit differently
than their competitors do in order to get patents and say that their
vehicles are the best.
the location and looks of the engine
in rear-engine cars and front-wheel drive vehicles are different from
those with traditional front engines and rear-wheel drive.
if any part of your vehicle is not exactly where it is in the
pictures on this site,
me, the part is in there someplace, or your car wouldn't go.
you have trouble finding something, your owner's manual (which all seemed like a
foreign language to you until you came across this Site)
have a diagram
the location of each principal part.
could also ask a friend who has a similar vehicle, or your friendly
automotive technician, to point out these "missing" parts.
However, I'm pretty sure, that if you read this section carefully
with an eye on your own vehicle, you can locate almost all the parts yourself.
always a good idea to have both an owner's
and a service
are your best bets) for
every vehicle you own.
What is the difference between an Owners Manual and a Service Manual?
Owners Manual is factory printed literature that comes with
All new vehicles which is specific to that car or truck
Service Manual is literature which can be purchased that is
specific to your make and model vehicle
don't have an owner's manual, ask your car dealer if they can get one
for you or if they can tell you where you can get one. Service
manuals are also available for every vehicle, and I strongly suggest
that you get one of these as well. Every auto repair facility cannot
stock a service manual for each year, make, and model of every
vehicle, and if you lend your service manual to an independent
service facility that is working on your car, you can save money by
reducing the time it would take them to figure out the proper way to
repair it. Also, if you get to the point where you want to do more
than basic repairs, one of these manuals will be indispensable. The
drawings in service manuals show you where every little nut and
washer fits so that you won't end up with a couple of
"extra" parts at the end of the job,
they show you how to do each job in the most efficient manner.
obtain a service manual at the parts department of your local
dealership, or write to the company that made your vehicle and print
"Service Manuals" on the envelope.
manufacturer will be very happy to sell you one.
have an older vehicle, you can find new or used service manuals or
instruction books for it in bookstores.
libraries often have surprisingly large collections of service
You can always come back RIGHT where you were by clicking the
icon on your right of each page.
in this Site is a Glossary
of automotive terms, if you want to learn the meaning of a technical
word in non technical language.
Makes A Vehicle Start?
people like to think that vehicles are totally powered by gasoline,
parts such as the radio, headlights, clock, and so on - actually
function on electricity,
you know that it also takes electricity to get your vehicle to start?
ignition system works in conjunction with your car's electrical
system to provide the power that allows your starter to make your
engine turn over.
your engine turns over, it can begin to run on gasoline,
you expected it to.
following is an in-depth explanation of what happens when you start a car.
Most vehicles still have
traditional gasoline-powered engines; if yours doesn't, you can find information
about alternatively powered vehicles here.
1.When you turn the key in your
car's ignition switch to Start, you close a circuit that allows the
current to pass from your battery to your starter
via the starter
2.The starter makes the engine
turn over (that's the roaring sound you
hear before the engine starts running smoothly).
In the section of this site
tells you exactly how it does this.
The section of this site titled The
explores it in detail, and shows you how to keep it in tune.
4.The fuel pump pumps the gasoline
through a fuel
filter into the
intake manifold. (In carbureted cars, the
gasoline is pumped into the carburetor, but nearly everything else is
similar in cars with fuel injection.)
5.Each pound of fuel is mixed with
15 pounds of air to form a vaporized mixture, like a mist. Because
fuel is much heavier than air, this mixture works out to something
like 1 part of fuel to 9,000 parts of air, by volume. In other words,
your engine really runs on air, with a little fuel to help it!
6.This fuel/air mixture (above #5)
passes into the cylinders
in your engine.
A cylinder is a hollow pipe with one open end and one closed end.
Inside each cylinder is a piston,
which fits very snugly and moves up and down.
The piston moves up, trapping the
fuel/air mixture in the upper part of the cylinder and compressing
it into a very small space.
8.The explosion forces the piston
back down again, with more power than it went up with.
9.Attached to the bottom of the
piston is a connecting
is attached to a crankshaft,
which leads, eventually, to the drive
your car. As the piston and the connecting rod go up and down, they
cause the crankshaft to turn.
This is pretty much the same
motion you use to pedal a bike:
Your knee goes up and down
while your foot pedals 'round and 'round.
10.At the other end of the
crankshaft is a box of gears called the transmission.
If your car has a conventional
engine with rear-wheel
the transmission is under the
If it has a transverse
engine and front-wheel
the transmission is under
the hood of the car.
On rear-engine cars, both the
engine and the transmission are under the rear deck lid, where the
trunk would ordinarily be found.
11.If your car has a manual
you'll also find the clutch
located between the crankshaft and the transmission. The clutch tells
the transmission when to connect or disconnect the engine from the
rest of the drive
In a car with an automatic
this is done automatically.
12.When you shift into Drive (or First, if you have a manual transmission),
a set of gears causes the rest of
the crankshaft (which is called the drive-shaft
after it leaves the transmission)
to turn at a particular speed.
runs to the rear wheels of conventional rear-wheel-driven vehicles
and ends in another set of gears called the differential.
The differential turns the power of the engine and the transmission
90 degrees into the axles
that connect the drive wheels of the car. Because on most vehicles,
the axle is set at right angles to the driveshaft, you can see that
the differential is really changing the direction of the power so
that the drive wheels can turn. You can see more on drive trains and
transmissions in detail in the Transmission
Cars with front-wheel drive or
with rear engines do not require driveshafts because the power source
is located right between the wheels that are going to drive the car.
On these vehicles, the transmission and the differential are combined
into a single unit called the transaxle,
which connects directly to provide power to the drive wheels.
14. The drive wheels turn and push
the vehicle forward or backward, and off you go.
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The objective of this Web Page is to familiarize you with basic auto maintenance
- in some common emergencies - not to make you an expert in auto mechanics
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I am in no way, shape, or
form telling you to do this yourself. Your results may vary. If
something goes wrong, it is not my fault! These are just guidelines.