A convenience many of us utilize, the car is a modern convenience we couldn't go without. Although a complex piece of machinery, a basic understanding of your car can highlight critical facts to make it last longer and prevent unnecessary wear.
Cars come in many different shapes and forms, but the basic principle stays the same. A car has a power plant, a gearbox and finally a drivetrain that transmits the power to the wheels. The steering wheels turn according to the driver's input, in doing so changing the direction of the car. Although conceptually simple, the design of modern vehicles is complex and demands care. For the best performance and longevity of your car there are a few simple steps to take note of
The Powerplant and Gearbox
Conventional modern cars have a variety of power plants, all based around the principals of the internal combustion engine. Whether your car is powered by a gasoline engine, diesel engine or LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) engine the operating principles are the same.
Air containing oxygen is drawn into the engine and mixed with the correct amount of fuel. The air fuel mixture is compressed by a piston which is then pushed down with great force when the air and fuel are ignited. This force is what is used to move your car. Now that the fuel is used up, it is expelled from the engine and the process repeats.
What is important to realise is the heat developed must be absorbed or the engine will overheat, which can cause irreparable damage as parts are worked harder than they were ever designed to. It's not a pleasant experience seeing steam gushing from under your hood, feeling the motor struggle to power the car along until it simply gives up. There are many causes for such a failure beyond the scope of this article, but rejoice as there is a way to solve the problem.
Service your car! It sounds simple enough, but what many people don't realise is what a vital role this plays in the longevity of your vehicle. By doing this regularly you can ensure your engine and gearbox always has a fresh supply of fluids for optimal running. On top of this, there are some simple things you can do to have peace of mind wherever your next destination.
Once a month when your car is cold, pop the hood and have a peek. There should be enough coolant in the cooling system and plenty of oil in the engine. It's always a good idea to keep a bottle of compatible oil in case you need to top it up, and some paper towels to keep things from getting messy. By checking the coolant and oil levels are topped up, the chance of your engine developing a problem is far less.
A small exercise shows the importance of this simple regeme. Put your hands together firmly, and rub them vigorously together. Your hands will start to get warm. Now push them harder together and keep rubbing, you will start feeling some real heat. Now push together as hard as you can. I can guarantee you won't want to do this for long. The heat developed will be very uncomfortable and if kept up will even blister your hands. This is what is happening between the moving parts inside your engine when starved of oil. The heat generated will be so intense as to damage any surface severely. If you were to try our experiment again while your hands are under a running tap, you will find it possible to rub your hands until your arms are too tired to continue. This is the importance of fresh clean oil throughout your engine and gearbox, facilitating frictionless running in all conditions.
Although a very basic guide, this article is a start to understanding your car's reliability is an outcome of proper maintenance habits. Try making a habit of checking the basic fluid levels, brake, power steering, coolant, oil, etc. All of these procedures are usually in the car owner's manual specific to your vehicle. Remember that the only thing between you and the road is your tires, so make it a habit to routinely check they are inflated and of sound condition. Always wear a seatbelt and above all, drive safely!