Having a car is one thing; knowing the function of every part of your car is another thing. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of components installed on your car; it’s not compulsory that you know the function of all the parts of your car, but it’s quite important you do, at least, know the basic ones.
This article lists and explains the various parts of a car and their functions; this listicle comprises the most common components to the uncommon ones you probably never knew were parts of a vehicle. Are you ready? Let’s get going.
Parts of a Car and Their Functions
1. The Engine
Everyone (including people who don’t have a car) knows that every vehicle is built with an engine. The engine is the vehicle’s powerhouse; if anything affects the engine, the vehicle would probably not start – and if it does, the performance would be awful.
Most modern cars’ engines are located at the front – inside the front hood.
Every vehicle has a chassis; it is the framework that forms the basic support to carry every other part of the car. You can refer to this as the frame, skeleton, casing, or structure of a vehicle.
Of course, there are different types of chassis depending on the type and model of vehicle you bought.
This is one of the components you should know about, and also have it inspected at intervals to detect failure signs earlier.
The radiator is among the components installed around the engine in the engine bay (under the hood). It functions as part of the cooling system in every car to help keep the engine cool (so as not to overheat) and keep the car running at a good temperature.
4. The Hood
What’s called the hood? It’s a dedicated, covered front part of every modern car where the engine, radiator, battery, and other crucial components/systems of the vehicle are installed.
The hood of every car is closed with a bonnet to keep water away from damaging the components inside.
5. Transmission System
The transmission system of every vehicle is as important as the engine, and when it breaks down, the repair/replacement cost is almost the same as a damaged engine.
The transmission system is what actually pushes your car to drive; it houses the gears and connects to other mechanical components that make a car go forward and backward.
There are two common types of transmission used in modern cars: Automatic and Manual – you have to confirm which one you’ve got.
You turn the key, and your car starts – the battery made it start. The battery of a car is very important and causes a vehicle not to start when dead or faulty. Also, the battery powers all the lights and icons on your car’s dashboard.
Car batteries differ based on different aspects; you should know the specs of the main battery installed by your car manufacturer.
7. The Alternator
The alternator is part of the electrical system of every modern vehicle. Its function is to charge the battery and power the car’s electrical components while the engine is running.
If the alternator is bad, your car’s battery won’t charge, which means you would always find it challenging to start the vehicle after turning it off.
8. Shocks and Struts
These two components are typically installed in all vehicles; notwithstanding, some vehicles may come with only struts or shocks. The shocks, or shock absorbers in full, and struts are part of the suspension system of every modern car.
They help to keep your car up high (so the bottom/chassis of your car won’t be touching the roads) and maintain stability when you drive through potholes or rough parts of a road.
You’d only have a “Clutch” in your car if the car is built with a manual transmission. Vehicles with automatic transmission systems do not typically come with clutches.
A clutch is part of the transmission/braking system of every manual vehicle; it works to disengage the gears from the driveshaft, usually applied when trying to bring a manual car to a stop.
10. Drive Shaft
When you move your car’s gear level into the Drive Gear, the driveshaft activates immediately. It is the part of your car that propels the gearbox and differential to function and make the car move forward or backward.
Driveshafts have universal joints at their ends, connecting to other parts of the powertrain.
A differential comprises different gears and driveshafts; it helps to keep the car balanced when one of the tires loose traction (spinning uncontrollably).
The main function of a differential is to transfer torque from one axle to another or one wheel to another in the case of traction loss.
There are at least two axles installed on every vehicle, one in the front and the other at the rear. Both the front and rear axle houses the car wheels and add support to your vehicle.
The major function of axles is to convert the power from the engine to rotary motion and drive the wheels to move.
13. The Steering
The steering is a system comprising quite a number of components; its function is to allow you to control the direction your car should go. The steering system moves the car wheels to the left or the right.
Brakes are very important in automobiles and should be paid serious attention to. The brake system comprises brake pads, calipers, and other components, depending on the design of your car. Matching the brake pedal brings your car to a stop or slows down the speed.
15. Wheels or Tires
Whether you call them tires or wheels, both names are correct. Car wheels have three main functions: to support the vehicle, change/maintain the car’s direction, and absorb/reduce shock impact.
The exhaust is the part of a car that removes waste combustion gases from the car. It plays an important role in making the engine work optimally and reducing the harmfulness of the emissions coming from the car.
However, the exhaust is made up of 3 major components, the manifold, muffler, and catalytic converter.
17. Windshield Wipers
Wipers are attached to the front and rear windshield mirrors; they are there to clean the mirrors and “wipe off” raindrops. Some vehicles, however, do not come with rear windshield wipers.
18. Spark Plugs
Spark plugs play an important role in starting your car. It is the plugs that ignite and supply the electrical charge needed to trigger the combustion process that produces the power to move the engine and other components of the car’s drivetrain/powertrain.
When you go shopping and buy everything you need, you put them into the car’s trunk. The trunk is an enclosed space, usually located at the rear of the vehicle, sizable enough to contain a few items.
However, some cars have big trunk space, while trucks have open trunks carrying even long items.
Different vehicles come with varying numbers of pistons; pistons in a car can be six, eight, or more. The function of pistons is to convert fuel from the fuel tank into a form of energy needed to drive the engine of a car. Any problem with the pistons can cause the vehicle not to start.
21. AC Compressor
You want to stay cool while driving in the summer? The Air compressor powers the AC unit that circulates condensed air within your car. The AC compressor produces the cool air blown out from the AC units inside the car.
22. Tail lights and Headlights
The headlights are the ones at the front, while the tail lights are the ones at the rear. These lights supply sufficient illumination for driving in low-light areas or at night. You can install brighter headlight bulbs if you think you want more brightness.
23. Cigarette Lighter Socket
When you go into the car and look closely at the dashboard, you’d notice an auxiliary port shaped to contain electrical-powered cigarette lighters.
The cigarette lighter socket was introduced in vehicles to power electrically heated cigarette lighters but has become a DC connector to power quite a wide range of portable car accessories, including car Bluetooth MP3 players/chargers.
The crankshaft is part of the drivetrain and engine components. It connects with the piston to convert linear motion into rotational energy to drive the wheels of a vehicle.
If the crankshaft is faulty or broken, the car won’t drive, or you’d notice that the car shakes intermittently as you drive.
Put simply, a camshaft is also part of the drivetrain of every vehicle – helping to convert rotational motion into reciprocating motion.
Camshafts are mostly present in piston engines and consist of several radial cams. Also, the camshaft is connected to the crankshaft using a belt, gear, or chain.
26. Fuel Tank
As the name implies, this is the storage provision to store fuel that the car’s engine would use. The content level of the fuel tank is shown on the dashboard, so you can know when you’re running on low fuel and when your tank is full.
27. Timing Chain/Belt
Okay, we’ve talked about the camshaft and the crankshaft, which connect to each other using a belt or chain – that belt/chain being talked about is the “Timing Belt/Chain.” You can decide to call it the timing belt or timing chain.
It is a very important part of the engine. A timing belt is used to synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft to keep the engine valves opened or closed at specific timing and in correlation with the pistons.
These are the most important parts of a car and their functions. There are pretty many other ones, but they are not really important to know – unless you’re a mechanic or an auto electrician. The parts of a car are typically grouped into systems and components:
- Drivetrain/Powertrain System: Comprising the transmission, axles, and differential
- Suspension System: Comprises the shocks, struts, and wheels
- Electrical System: Comprising the battery, spark plugs, sensors, alternator, dashboard components, and many others
- Steering System: Comprising the steering wheel, tie rods, center links, and others
- Fuel System: Comprising the fuel tank, fuel filter, fuel lines, etc
- Exhaust System: Comprising the muffler, catalyst converter, tailpipe, and manifold
- Cooling System: Mainly, the car’s AC system, radiator, and air filter