Basic car knowledge: Car parts you should know about

Team AckodriveJun 6, 2022

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If you are planning to buy a new car or already own one, the names of car parts and components might seem like foreign languages. As a car owner, having basic car knowledge and knowing about essential car parts will go a long way in helping you take care of your car. For instance, basic automotive knowledge can come in handy if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Read ahead to know more about essential car parts.

Basic car knowledge

Basic car parts one should know about

A car is a complex machine that comprises several mechanical and electrical components. However, understanding the basic parts of an automobile is not rocket science. You can go through the car parts list below to improve your car knowledge.

1. Engine

  • The engine is the heart of an automobile.

  • It is the powerplant of a vehicle.

  • It is also known as an Internal Combustion engine or IC engine, 

  • It powers the car by burning the air-fuel mixture and converting it into mechanical energy.

  • An engine comprises several other components such as pistons, camshaft, crankshaft, etc.

Also Read: Car engine types: Explore the types of automotive engines

2. Transmission

  • The transmission, also known as a gearbox, is a critical component of an automobile. 

  • It is a component that transfers the energy produced by the engine to the wheels.

  • It comprises a series of gears of different ratios. The driver can select the smaller or larger gear as per driving conditions.

  • Further, there are two types of transmissions manual and automatic.

  • Manual transmission allows for the driver to shift gears manually.

  • Alternatively, automatic transmissions perform the gear shifts automatically. There are different automatic gearboxes such as CVT, DCT, etc.

3. Clutch

  • In simple words, a clutch acts as a bridge between the engine and transmission.

  • It helps to engage and disengage the transmission of power to the gearbox.

  • In other words, the clutch helps to stop the wheels from spinning without shutting down the engine.

  • The clutch system comprises a clutch pedal, clutch plates, flywheel, etc.

  • In a manual gearbox, the drive has to engage the clutch manually.

  • In an automatic transmission, the system operates the clutch. 

4. Battery

  • Car battery is a component that powers the car in the first place. Without it, the car won't start.

  • It converts chemical energy into electrical energy to provide the necessary electrical power to the engine and other electrical components.

  • A battery is vital to fire up the engine as it also powers the car's starter motor.

  • Typically, you can find the battery in the engine bay, under the bonnet.

  • You can easily identify the battery with positive (+) and negative (-) symbols on the terminals.

5. Alternator

  • The alternator is part of the car's electrical system.

  • It charges the battery and also powers the electrical system of the vehicle. 

  • An alternator generates electricity by utilizing the mechanical energy created by the car's movement.

  • It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy through an alternating current.

  • Some of the battery issues can be due to the alternator.

6. Radiator

  • The role of the radiator is to prevent from engine overheating.

  • It flows coolant throughout the engine, absorbs heat and transfers the radiator unit.

  • Generally, you can find the radiator at the front of the vehicle.

  • Hence, the atmospheric air cools down the coolant when the car's on the move.

  • The radiator also has a fan that blows additional air to cool down the coolant if the atmospheric temperature is too high.

  • For a radiator to work correctly, it needs to have a sufficient coolant in the system.

7. Axle

  • Axles are an essential component of an automobile as they help in the vehicle's movement.

  • Axles are attached to the wheels and part of the steering and suspension system.

  • They transfer power from the engine via transmission and differential.

  • Apart from supporting the car's weight, axles also aid in steering, turning and braking.

  • A vehicle comprises a front and rear axle.

  • Vibrations throughout the vehicle while braking or steering may be due to some problems with the axle.

8. Steering and suspension

  • The steering allows the driver to steer the vehicle precisely.

  • On the other hand, the suspension bears the car’s weight, absorbs shock, and offers a smooth ride.

  • The steering and suspension systems work in conjunction to provide stability to a vehicle.

  • The modern power steering system reduces driver effort when steering the car.

  • Different suspensions used in automobiles are MacPherson Struts, leaf springs, double wishbone, etc.

9. Brakes

  • Brakes are one of the most crucial pieces of a car's safety equipment.

  • All four wheels come equipped with brakes as it allows to stop or slow down the vehicle or prevent it from moving when it's parked/stopped.

  • A braking system comprises several components such as a brake pedal, rotor, caliper, brake pad, etc.

  • With the help of calipers, the hydraulic fluid applies hydraulic pressure to push the brake pads against the rotor to stop/slow down the vehicle.

  • The two common types of brakes are drum and disc brakes.

10. Catalytic Converter

  • A catalytic converter is a component that is part of the vehicle's exhaust system. 

  • Its primary role is to reduce the oxides of Nitrogen and/or hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide in the emission gases.

  • It helps remove toxic elements from the exhaust gases before emitting them through the exhaust pipe.

  • During combustion, harmful gases emitted by the engine include hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxide.

11. Muffler

  • A muffler is a part of the exhaust system and helps muffle noise coming from the exhaust system.

  • It's located just before the exhaust pipe.

  • It is made of aluminum coated steel to protect it from heat and chemicals emitted from the exhaust system.

  • It reduces exhaust noise by restricting the flow of exhaust gases.

  • Mufflers are also known as silencers.

12. Fuel Tank

  • As the name suggests, the fuel tank holds the car's fuel (petrol/diesel).

  • Generally, it's located before the rear axle.

Frequently asked questions

Below are some common questions related to basic car parts.

What are the basic parts of a car that one should know about?


The essential car components include engine, gearbox, clutch, battery, brakes, radiator, steering and suspension. Basic knowledge about these components can be helpful as a car owner.

Which are some of the essential car maintenance tips?


Below are some basic car maintenance tips.

  • Read your car's owners manual thoroughly to gain vital car knowledge. 

  • Pay attention to the different car warning light indicators on your car's instrument cluster.

  • Service the vehicle at regular intervals or as suggested by the manufacturer.

  • Ensure that all tyres are adequately inflated and have enough tread.

  • Keep a check on the levels of your car's vital fluids (engine oil, coolant, etc.).

  • Check your wiper blades regularly and replace them if necessary.

How do I find out the make and model of a car?


Usually, the car manufacturer's name will be present in the car's rear on one side and the model name on the other. You can also find the make and model of the vehicle either on the cover of the user's manual or within its first few pages.

How often do I need to service my car?


Stick to your car manufacturer's service schedule, which will be present in the user's manual. The service intervals vary from one car manufacturer to another. You may also refer to the owner's manual to know the exact service intervals of your car.

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