Cars 101: Anatomy of the car

Cars 101: Anatomy of the car

Looking to buy a new or used car in the UAE? Here is a guide to help you understand common car terminology that you will likely come across;

1. Engine

The engine is the heart of a car. It is a complex machine built to convert heat from burning gas into the force that makes the car work. Car engines are built around a set of cylinders (usually anything from two to twelve, but typically four, six, or eight) inside which the fuel burns. A car engine makes its power by endlessly repeating a series of four steps called strokes: intake, compression, power, and exhaust. Instead of internal combustions, all the electric vehicles have an electric motor that uses a chargeable traction battery pack to power the car instead of an internal combustion engine. A hybrid vehicle is powered by both, internal combustion engine and an electric motor. 

2. Transmission

Transmission is the internal system that controls the engine’s power and translates it into movement. There are two main components to a transmission; the shaft, and the gears. The shaft is the part that takes the energy from the engine to help the vehicle move, while the gears help to determine the range of speed the car can reach. There are 4 main types of transmission – manual, automatic, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and Tiptronic. A manual transmission, also known as a “standard transmission” or a “stick shift” is the most mechanically simple transmission which utilizes a driver-operated clutch that is typically engaged or disengaged by a foot pedal or hand lever. Automatic transmission, like the name suggests, can automatically change gears as the vehicle moves, meaning the driver does not have to shift gears manually. The CVT, also known as a shiftless transmission, is a variant of the automatic transmission that can change gears seamlessly. Usually used in performance or sports cars, and also known as “manumatic”, the Tiptronic transmission is a combination of both manual and automatic transmission.

3. Suspension

The suspension is the system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers, and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allows relative motion between the two. The suspension does everything from ensuring that the wheels stay connected with the road, for better grip and braking, to stop the car from excessively shaking over rough surfaces.

4. Body and chassis

Chassis’ is a blanket description of the base frame of a vehicle and the mechanical parts attached to it that act as a mounting to the major car parts, including the frame, wheels, suspension, and body.

5. Electrical system

A car’s electrical system is a closed circuit that consists of the battery, starter, and alternator. The battery provides juice to the starter. Then, the alternator gives that battery the energy it needs to power your car. If one of these parts is not working properly, your car won’t start or run correctly.

6. Braking system

Brakes are a key element of any vehicle, without which it is virtually impossible to use a car for travel. A braking system is the style of braking. This is the method behind the actual braking mechanics. The actual brakes describe the mechanical equipment used to carry out the method. The most common types of braking systems in cars today are – hydraulic, electromagnetic, servo, and mechanical braking.

7. Tires and wheels

Tires and wheels are most commonly confused as being the same thing; however, they are two completely different yet interdependent parts of a car. The wheels and tires are a vehicle’s connection to the road. This connection affects handling, ride comfort, braking, and even fuel efficiency. Wheels are constructed from steel or aluminum alloy. Wheels, also known as ‘Rims’, are the metal parts that bolt to the vehicle’s hub, often via an axle and are generally constructed from steel or aluminum alloy, though some modern wheels are made of carbon fiber. They do not come into contact with the roadway surface, wheels are not considered a wear-and-tear item, and only need to be replaced if they become damaged or there is a desire or need for a different size and style of wheel. Tires are the round casings, usually filled with air that are mounted securely on the wheel and which come in contact with the road. Unlike wheels, tires wear out over time and need to be replaced periodically, depending on the mileage, age and the condition of the tires, and the quality of the roadways where the car is driven.