Kids Glossary Guide To Auto Parts

Cars are great because they can get places much faster than walking or riding a bike. On top of that, they can play music, light up and keep people safe from bad weather. They cost a lot of money because there are so many complex parts. Here is a list of just some of the parts in mom or dad’s car.

Air Filter- The air filter is the part of a car that lets the engine of the car breathe. The engine takes in the same air that people do and the air filter sifts out the dirt and other unwanted particles.

Alternator- The alternator powers the electrical system in car. Without it, drivers and passengers could not use headlights, air conditioners or the radio.

Axle- An axle is a bar that connects the front wheels of a car to each other and the rear wheels to each other.

Brakes- When the driver hits the brake pedal, the brakes touch a part of the wheel and turns its moving “kinetic” energy into heat. With less kinetic energy, the car slows down.

Bumpers- The bumper is the small strip of metal or plastic across the front of a car, below the headlights. It is meant to reduce damage during an accident. They are also built in a way that is supposed to keep people outside from getting too hurt if a car hits them.

Car Battery- A battery is used to start a car.

Cylinders- Every car has a certain number of pistons as part of its engine. Cylinders are the holes that these pistons move through. Since pistons are always about the same size, then the more there are, the more powerful the car is.

Distributor- The distributer is powered by the battery and it is part of a car’s ignition system. It gives electricity to the spark plugs that power the pistons in a specific order.

Hub Caps- Hubcaps are the silver or gray circles that you see in the center of car tires. The only real reason to have a hubcap is because they look better than a bare wheel. They also usually have the car maker’s logo on them.

Head Lights/ Tails Lights- Headlights, the bright white lights in the front of the car, allow drivers to see in the dark. Along with tail lights, the red ones in the back, they’re also used to make sure the car can be seen in the dark by other drivers and people on the street. They can be turned on and off with a dial on the left side of the steering wheel. The tail lights shine when the driver hits the brake pedal too. 

Muffler- A muffler makes a car quieter. When a car makes a loud rumbling sound, it’s possible the muffler is broken. State governments have made it illegal to drive a car that makes too much noise.

Oil Filter- An air filter takes unwanted particles out of air so it makes sense that oil filters do the same with oil. Oil reduces friction inside the car parts so that they do not get too hot or catch on fire.

Power Steering- Most cars today have power steering, which is a system that makes it easier to turn a car’s steering wheel. The system is hydraulic, meaning that it uses fluid to work.

Radiator- Even though oil reduces friction, the car still gets very hot. The radiator takes this heat and pushes it through the grill in the front of the car between the headlights. It needs coolant to do its work.

Rear-view Mirrors- When driving on a busy road, there might be cars on all sides. Rear-view mirrors make it easier for drivers to see behind them. The amount of time it takes to turn around is much longer than simply moving looking into a nearby mirror.

Shock Absorber- The usual car ride has many bumps and turns. Riders might feel them, but shock absorbers keep them from feeling too much. Without shock absorbers, objects would keep moving in one direction even when the car turns. A person would be pushed against the door or the dashboard again and again. 

Steering Wheel- A steering wheel is a simple wheel and axle. Turning the wheel turns the tires, which turns the car.

Transmission- The transmission in a car controls the gear a car is in, which is the difference between the speed of the engine and the speed of the wheels. There are two main styles: automatic and standard. With standard transmission, a driver has to shift gears on his or her own. With automatic transmission, the car does it by itself.

Windshield- A windshield is the big window in the front of the car. Without the windshield, the people in a car would be hit by bugs and other objects in the air. They are made out of very thick glass so that if the car is in an accident, the people inside don’t get thrown out of the car.

Windshield Wipers- The windshield may protect the people in the car from getting hit by bugs, dust, rain and snow, but that means they all end up on the windshield. Sometimes it is stormy outside but there is a really important place to get to — like school. There would be no way for a car or school bus to get there if not for windshield wipers pushing away the drops. 

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