In the novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, writer Robert M. Pirsig says that sometimes it’s better to travel than to arrive. And it’s true – nothing beats the trials and joys of a fantastic road trip.
But traveling is only fun if you are confident in the knowledge and understanding of your car. Without being familiar with essential car parts and how to perform basic checks-ups on your vehicle, you can’t fully take ownership of the very vehicle you drive daily.
Every responsible car owner should have basic information about their vehicle and its parts.
But where is one to begin? When there is so much to learn about cars, it’s best to start with the bare essentials.
Keep reading to learn about 7 of the most important car parts.
1. The Battery
Without a battery, your car wouldn’t be able to function. The battery is what allows you to ignite the switch and then run the motors and power your engine. It’s important to know where your battery is and to know how to treat it right.
For instance, you should never leave a key fob in your car when you aren’t driving it. It will actually drain the battery even if your car isn’t on, making it weaker over time.
Batteries are amazing because they continually recharge every time you run your car. If treated with care, they can last for years on end. They are by far one of the most important car parts.
2. The Brake System
Having your entire brake system intact is essential for safe driving. If anything goes wrong, you could end up in an accident.
If you hear any rubbing, squeaking, grinding, or screeching, it’s time to get your brakes checked, and fast.
If you wait too long, rotors can become warped or damaged if completely worn brake pads and shoes go beyond their lifespan.
If you find that you have to press down harder to perform normal brake function or if there is a burning smell, your car’s brake system is overdue for a check-up.
3. The Fuel Injector
The fuel injector does its job by receiving gasoline and transferring it from the fuel tank to the engine. It is controlled by the car engine’s computer.
Fuel injectors can last the lifetime of a vehicle. However, they can fail as a result of contaminants like dirt, low-quality fuel, or carbon buildup. They can also leak as rubber seals begin to age. And its electrical components can fail from heat, moisture damage, and age.
Look for the “check engine” light as an indicator there is an issue. Replacing it may only cost a couple of hundred dollars if you fix it fast. Ignoring a fuel injector issue is dangerous as it’s a fire risk.
4. The Shock Absorbers
The shock absorbers are basic car parts that most people understand. They are what give you a smooth ride when you’re driving because they minimize bumps and uneven areas of the road.
If you start to feel like you’re riding a horse every time you drive on a rough road, it’s likely that your shock absorbers are either worn or damaged.
If you drive your car on smooth pavement all the time, shock absorbers may last up to 10 years. However, the typical lifespan is 4 to 5 years.
5. The Transmission
The transmission is one of the main parts of a car as it connects your engine to your wheels. It allows power from the engine to make the wheels move, so without it, you won’t be able to drive.
If you experience slippage or vibrations while driving, it could be a transmission issue. While it may start with something small like a bad fluid pump, it quickly escalates into total gear breakdown.
A burning odor, unusual whines, issues shifting gears, grinding while shifting, and leaking transmission fluid are all signs that the transmission in your car needs to be checked out.
6. The Muffler
Everyone knows of the muffler as the part that emits exhaust gas. But it also helps to minimize the sounds your car makes and allows it to run quietly.
In British English, they refer to the muffler as the “silencer.”
Loud noises are the most obvious signs that your muffler may be about to kick the bucket. Bad smells are also indicative of an issue.
It’s essential that you find an auto body shop early on in your car’s life. You want a place you can trust, and that has the ability to provide parts that are just right for your car. For a comprehensive guide on Miata parts, for example, refer to this blog post.
6. The HVAC Compressor
Your car’s HVAC compressor works exactly the same way that home air conditioning units work.
During those hot summer months, nothing is worse than an AC unit malfunction.
If you start hearing loud noises when the compressor is running, or if you notice that the air isn’t as cool or strong as it used to be, it’s time for a check-up.
You can still drive your car with a compressor that doesn’t work, but depending on the time of year, you’ll be sweating like a marathon runner.
Understanding Important Car Parts Is Empowering
You drive your car daily. You may have spent a pretty penny on it. And whether you like to show it off or simply use it to get from point A to B, it’s important to know and understand how it works.
Just by knowing and understanding a few important car parts will set you and your car up for success, rather than failure. By knowing basic parts and understanding when something goes wrong, you’ll maintain the life of your car and its parts, for longer.
If you love everything cars and you want to learn more, take a look at our magazine or try one of our puzzles. Puzzles are a great way to learn more and have fun while doing so!