Car Stuff


To be a good driver, you need to know how cars and trucks work.  They have three main sets of parts, 

1) The parts that propel the vehicle down the road. 
2) The parts that let you control the vehicle, so it can go down the road safely. 
3) The parts that tell you the health of the vehicle. 


Cars are vehicles that have wheels, which enable them to move people and groceries around. 
But shopping carts have wheels too; so what makes a car different from a shopping cart? 

Cars go farther and faster because they have a 'drive-train', the machinery that propels them up and down hills, 
and makes them go  faster and farther than people can walk. 
The drive-train consists of a motor that creates power, and a transmission that sends the power to the wheels. 
And since a car moves, it needs to be steered. 
Since a car can move very fast and is heavy, it needs brakes to help it stop at stop lights and school crosswalks. 
    With a shopping cart, the human does all that stuff.

A car has a cabin to hold the people, and that is where the controls are, but we will talk about those later. 

Looking at the photo, you can see that touching the ground, are the wheels. 
Inside the wheels are the brakes that stop the wheels. When the wheels stop turning, the car will stop moving. 
And you can see the engine/transmission sits on top of the front wheels. 

Like people, cars use air and several kinds of fluids, and many of those fluids pass through filters to increase the lifespan of the vehicle.
Cars don't use coffee or chocolate milk, they use oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, etc.

 Air: Cars have air in the tires that help the tires give a smooth ride. Tires driven without proper air pressure can be chewed up like licorice at a middle school Christmas party. The car also needs clean air for the cabin and for the combustion engine.

Motor oil: A car engine has 4-5 quarts of oil that help motor parts run together without melting. The oil needs to be checked at the dipstick, and needs to be changed every 3,000 miles or every 5,000 miles, depending on what the car-maker says. There is also an oil filter that needs changed when the oil is changed. The oil filter helps the oil last longer. 

Transmission fluid: Transmissions too, have fluid and a filter that needs changed, but only every 25,000-50,000 miles.  

Coolant: Larger combustion engines need help staying cool, so they have radiators filled with a combination of antifreeze and water, to carry heat away from the engine. This needs to be checked regularly and changed occasionally.  And this needs to be checked by an adult who knows how to do it SAFELY. 

This hot water from the engine is what keeps the car-cabin warm in the winter. 
Did you know that? 
No? 
Ha  !!!     You just learned something!

There is also power steering fluid and brake fluid levels to monitor, and they need changed at a certain mileage.  
Most fluids are checked with the engine 'OFF'.

ANNNDDD, let’s not forget the fuel that goes in the tank, either gasoline or diesel fuel. 
Adults need to be care not to put in the wrong kind. 

Again, combustion engines use air and fuel to create power, so there are air filters and fuel filters to change to keep the inside of the engine as clean as possible. 

The cabin, where the people sit, may also have an air filter, for comfort, which needs cleaned or changed.
 
The frame of the car is called the chassis (say 'chassie'). It has parts that help give a smooth ride. The chassis also has most of the parts that steer the car. Some of the connectors have lubrication zerks that need scheduled attention. 

Cars need to be cleaned regularly to keep them looking nice, 
and in the areas where roadsalt is used, it needs washed underneath, to keep street salt from eating the car body. 

And cars have headlights, tail lights, turn signals and brake lights that tell other drivers what we intend to do. 
Headlights help us see things and help us be seen by other drivers at night. (very important!)
These lights need to be checked from time to time. If one headlight burns out, then both headlights are probably at the end of their lifespan. Burned out lights create a lot of police stops.

Drivers also need to check the windshield wipers. They wear out too. When they start to streak, they need replaced. 
A lot of auto parts stores will now replace wiper blades if you buy them there. 

Oh, and tires. We need to make sure our tires have good tread on them, so they can steer and stop properly.

Cars have a lot of other parts too, but I wanted to point out the parts that drivers need to monitor and manage, 
to keep their cars running as long as possible. 
Cars also have parts that have nothing to check, but will still wear out, or stop working suddenly. 
That’s part of owning a car. 

Your family car, when new, had an owner’s manual. If still in the glovebox, it will tell you how to care for your auto. 
But car-checking is something you learn from your Adult, not trying to do on your own.

 Eric J Rose 
middlegrademysteries.com

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