A layman’s guide to simple car mechanics

People, especially men, like to pretend they know a lot about cars. The reality is most actually possess the limited working knowledge of what happens beneath the hood of their car. They may bandy about some terms or be able to tell you the make and model of the car but ask them to explain how it all works or what some key components of the car do, and they will be scrambling around with half-baked answers and awkward smiles. So without being a full-service manual, we thought it would be a good idea to talk through some key components of the car to explain them in layman’s terms.

Changing Gears

The key component to a smooth gear change is the clutch (and of course the driver). It is not just a pedal on the floor sitting adjacent to the brake, the reality is that it’s a whole kit. If you were to change this component on your car, which is something that is very doable, you would probably need to start with an internet search. Key in something like ‘Nissan Frontier clutch kit’ do get the correct details for the component and the model.  Results will detail people who could work on your clutch or where to get the part so you can do it yourself.  In short, though, the clutch is the system that facilitates smooth gear changes and which in turn is responsible for the transfer of power from the engine to the wheels – thereby ensuring that the car can move smoothly forward.

What is the carburetor?

The carburetor is more than just a great word for a game of Scrabble, it’s also a key component of the internal combustion engine. The carburetor is the place where the fuel is mixed with air. It is something of an exact science as the ratio to which they are mixed is important in order to get the best results. The reality, however, is that the carburetor is not the vital piece of the engine that it used to be, as in modern times, and with engine developments, it has now been replaced by fuel injection in most models.

Explain the chassis

Every car, or for that matter carriage, trailer or cart needs to be built on a frame and that quite simply is what the chassis is. It is the frame or base onto which everything is attached, and which holds it all together. In general, there are two types of chassis a ladder chassis or a monocoque. The former is regarded as more flexible and is often used in off-road vehicles while the latter has the whole external skin supporting the internal components.

What do spark plugs do?

The spark plug is the almost the key to the whole engine as like the name suggests, it provides the spark that fires the whole combustion process. In short, the spark plug fires a spark across a small gap that ignites the mixture of fuel and air that has been blended in the carburetor and sent to the cylinders. This potent mix explodes when exposed to the spark and this car drives the pistons which turn the engine and ultimately the wheels. Spark plugs are able to withstand very high temperatures.