A car is a wheeled, self-powered motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of the term specify that cars are designed to run primarily on roads, to have seating for one to eight people, to typically have four wheels, and to be constructed principally for the transport of people rather than goods. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth year of the modern car. In that year, German inventor Karl Benz built the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Cars did not become widely available until the early 20th century. One of the first cars that was accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Cars were rapidly adopted in the United States of America, where they replaced animal-drawn carriages and carts, but took much longer to be accepted in Western Europe and other less-developed parts of the world.
Cars are equipped with controls used for driving, parking, and passenger comfort and safety. New controls have also been added to vehicles, making them more complex. Examples include air conditioning, navigation systems, and in car entertainment. Most cars in use today are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by deflagration of gasoline (also known as petrol) or diesel. Both fuels are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming. Vehicles using alternative fuels such as ethanol flexible-fuel vehicles and natural gas vehicles are also gaining popularity in some countries.
Road traffic accidents are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide. The costs of car usage, which may include the cost of: acquiring the vehicle, repairs and auto maintenance, fuel, depreciation, driving time,parking fees, taxes, and insurance, are weighed against the cost of the alternatives, and the value of the benefits – perceived and real – of vehicle usage. The benefits may include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence and convenience. The costs to society of encompassing car use, which may include those of: maintaining roads, land use, pollution, public health, health care, and of disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life, can be balanced against the value of the benefits to society that car use generates. The societal benefits may include: economy benefits, such as job and wealth creation, of car production and maintenance, transportation provision, society wellbeing derived from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the tax opportunities. The ability for humans to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies.
The term motorcar has formerly also been used in the context of electrified rail systems to denote a car which functions as a small locomotive but also provides space for passengers and baggage. These locomotive cars were often used on suburban routes by both interurban and intercity railroad systems.
It was estimated in 2010 that the number of cars had risen to over 1 billion vehicles, up from the 500 million of 1986. The numbers are increasing rapidly, especially in China, India and other NICs.
A car is more than an engine and a body, it is a complex machine that has undergone over a century of evolution. I'm sure if Henry Ford could see a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria, he would be amazed how far it has come from his 1909 Model T.
Over the years we have seen a constant stream of innovations and improvements in engine design. We have seen the advent of 4 wheel brakes, the carburetor, fuel injection, and the automatic transmission. What I will do over the next few articles is to explain how each system works and how they interrelate with each other. Once we understand how the system works, we can get into how to repair that system when it fails.
There are many repairs that can be performed by the do-it-yourselfer, and many that are best performed by a trained professional. I'll guide you through which is which. I'll give you advice on the best techniques, terminology, the tools you will need and the replacement parts you will use. And most importantly, I'll teach you how to perform those repairs safely. After a short time, you will be doing most of your own repairs as well as a professional and save a lot of money as well.
Okay, let's start with that thing under the hood. Why did I say "that thing under the hood?" Some people call it a motor and some call it an engine. Which is it? The two terms are often used to describe the power plant under the hood, but which is correct? By definition, a motor is any device powered by electricity. According to Webster:
First appeared 1925
An electric device that can be used on either an alternating or a direct current supply.
That's why we have a blower motor in our heating and A/C system, we have power window motors in the doors and a windshield wiper motor to keep our windshields clean. They all run on electricity.
What is an engine? Again, according to Webster:
First appeared 13th Century
A machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion.
What an automobile engine does is converts the energy contained in the fuel into motion that propels it. Some of the early cars were powered by an external combustion engine which means the fuel was burned outside of the engine proper. A steam locomotive is a classic example of an external combustion engine. The fuel is used to turn water into steam which supplies the motive power. All cars today have an internal combustion engine which means the fuel is burned inside the engine proper. So now that we know what it's called, next time we will discuss how an engine converts energy into motion.
A car (also called an automobile) is a vehicle used to transport passengers. Cars usually have four wheels and an internal combustion engine. Another name is automobile from Greek "auto" and French "mobile". This name means "self-moving", as cars do not need horses or other external sources of power to move.