Parts of A Car – A Guide to Car Parts & Functions

Your car is a complex and super powerful road beast. It comprises thousands of components that work in harmony to offer a nice and seamless driving experience. If any of these components stop working, it may alter the overall vehicle performance. 

While you don’t need to know all car parts’ names and functions, responsible motorists should know the names and functions of the most important parts of a car. This will help you address the parts by their names and know when any component malfunctions.

This article will look at the most important parts of a car and their functions. You’ll learn their performance and maintenance tips. These comprehensive car parts names will help you get familiar with your underhood working components. It’s important to note that this list does not contain car parts names A-z.

Car Parts Name

Parts of A Car

Here is the list of the most important parts of a car in English you should know.

  • Wheel/Tires
  • Trunk
  • Hood
  • Turn signal/Taillights
  • Headlight
  • Speedometer
  • Windshield wipers
  • Windscreen
  • Steering wheel
  • Seat belt
  • Gear lever
  • Brakes
  • Muffler
  • Catalyst converter
  • Suspensions and front steering
  • Front axle
  • Radiator
  • Alternator
  • Battery
  • Transmission
  • Engine
  • Air filters
  • Fuel gauge
  • Temperature gauge
  • Rev counter
  • License plate
  • Rear suspension
  • Rear Axle
  • Fuel tank
  • Tailpipe
  • Tire/wheel
  • Pistons
  • A/C compressors
  • Engine fan
  • Clutch
  • Spare tires
  • Spark plugs

Car Parts Diagram

car parts list a z

Parts Of A Car And Their Functions

Let’s look at parts of a car’s exterior and underhood components.

Wheel/Tires: All cars have four wheels. Car tires are the black components that contact the road. Automakers manufacture them with rubber materials and they have nitrogen or air inside.

Manufacturers attached the tires to the wheels. The inner part of the tire houses the rim. Mechanics and motorists use tires, wheels, and rims interchangeably.

Trunk: The trunk is located at the rear end of the car. They are primarily made to carry luggage or cargo in convertibles, sedans, or coupes. North Americans use the term ‘trunk’, while other English-speaking countries call it to boot.

Before the invention of automobiles, boots refer to the carriage compartment built in a horse-driven carriage. They meant boots for the coachmen to relax when traveling in the early days. Later, merchandisers use it for goods carriage.

Hood: The hood is the cover that rests on the engine compartment. Some English-speaking countries call it bonnet. So, mechanical and motorists use hoods and bonnets interchangeably. Its primary purpose is to cover the engine compartment from dirt and rain.

It has a concealed latch used to lock it by pressing it down. Some vehicles have hood pins instead of latches. Manufacturers make car hoods with aluminum or steel materials. Sometimes, hoods house power bulges, wiper jets, hood scoops, and/or other hood components.

Turn signal/tail lights: Manufacturers mount tail lights on the rear of the car above the bumper. They have red color and white lights that show when going in reverse.

When traveling at night, tail lights notify other drivers and users of your presence to avoid collisions.

Turn signals, blinking lamps, or direction-indicator lights are small lights mounted on the right and left corners of the front and rear ends of a vehicle. They have yellow in color. The driver activates them when making corners and they turn off the moment the driver returns the steering wheel.

Headlight: The headlight is the big lamps on the left and right ends of the front of a vehicle. Drivers use them to illuminate lights on the road when traveling at night. There has been a misconception between headlights and headlamps. To be precise, headlamp is the name of the component, while headlight is the name of the light inside.

Aside from the primary function of the headlamps – to illuminate light ahead of the driver, it has evolved over the years. Headlamps are now used to add aesthetics to car designs.

Seat belts: The seat belts also referred to as safety belts, are a safety feature in vehicles to restrain the driver and passengers from flipping out of the car in case of a collision.

This is one of the safest parts of a car inside the vehicle. Seat belts reduce injury impacts on the driver and passengers from interior strike hazards.

Speedometer: A speedometer is a vehicle component that states the speed at which a vehicle travels. This component comes with an odometer that records the distance covered.

A speedometer is also known as a speed meter. It calculates and projects the speed of a vehicle. Speed meters have specific names on various vehicles and have different means of measuring the vehicle speed. It is called an airspeed indicator in airplanes and pit logs in boats.

Gear shifts: Gear shifts, also known as gear levers or gear sticks, are an essential vehicle component. Drivers use it to put cars in different gear ranges.

On manual transmission cars, gear shifts have a direct connection with the transmission. It is also a stick shift or transmission lever. These terms are most common with manual transmissions, while it’s called gear selector in automatic transmission.

Drivers use gear shifts to change gears whilst pressing down the clutch pedal to disengage the engine from the transmission and wheels.

Automatic transmissions and continuously variable transmissions do not have clutch pedals. Therefore, you can engage the gears without depressing a clutch pedal.

Steering wheel: The steering wheel is an important component of any car. It is used to control the direction of the car. It changes the driver’s rotational control into the swiveling movement of the car’s front wheels.

The driver’s command via the wheel rotational movement crosses a series of hydraulic lines and joints before reaching the rack and pinions to turn the wheels.

The steering wheel on modern cars features cruise control, paddle shifters, audio system volume, and selection buttons. Some steering wheels on high-performance cars are electrically controlled.

Windshield wiper: Windshield wipers are one of the safest parts of a car body. Drivers use it to wipe out raindrops, water, ice, snow, and/or dirt from the windscreen so they can have a clear view.

Almost all vehicles such as passenger cars, sedans, coupes, convertibles, trucks, watercraft with cabins, train locomotives, and some airplanes have wipers. This feature is a legal requirement.

Windshield wipers comprise a rubber blade and metal arms. The arms are a strong metal powered by an electric motor.

Whenever the driver turns on the blade switch, it swings up and down in the windscreen to clear off raindrops, ice, and other precipitation.

Front axles: This is a strong metal component and a part of the suspension systems. It assists the steering system and helps in absorbing road bumps. And it comprises four components, which include the stub axle, track rod, beam, and swivel pin.

Rear axles: The rear axle plays a major role between the driving wheels and the differential. It distributes power between the two rear wheels. The rear axle consists of two components known as half shafts. Both axles connect to the differentials from the opposite wheels. Most rear axles spin with the vehicle wheels.

Shock absorbers: These are essential vehicle components. Some experts categorize them under suspension systems. They have to absorb vehicle vibration when traveling on uneven pavements. They also help to control the rebound movement of the leaf and coil springs.

Amongst other functions, shock absorbers ensure the vehicle tires hug the roads perfectly. By that, it ensures optimum braking response and safest control.

Tires are the only vehicle components that have direct contact with the road. Therefore, it also needs support from other vehicle components. And, the shock absorber acts as a major support to the wheels. So if the shock absorber fails, the steering system, braking system, and handling will be compromised.

Suspension components: The suspension system comprises the components underneath the wheel housing such as ball joints, tie rods, control bushings, etc. These components connect the vehicle to the wheel and allow relative movement.

The suspension system plays a significant role in keeping the tires in perfect contact with the road and absorbing road bumps. It also protects the entire vehicle and cargo or luggage from damage. Suspension systems also come in different designs.

Radiator: The radiator is a vital cooling system component that helps to expel excess heat from the engine coolant. It works in harmony with the radiator hose, water pumps, water jackets, thermostats, and cooling fans to circulate coolant to the engine and prevent it from overheating.

Antifreeze travels from the radiator, through the radiator hoses, and the thermostat to absorb engine heat and return to the radiator. Before going back to the engine, the hot coolant gets cooled in the radiator.

The ambient air flows through the front grille and cools the heated coolant from the radiator’s thin layers when driving. When in traffic or idling, the radiator fan does the cooling alone.

This process continues to ensure the engine runs at an optimal operating temperature.

Batteries: This is an essential component of a car. Without it, your vehicle won’t start. The battery supplies power to the electrical systems to turn on the motor.

In internal combustion engine vehicles, when the driver shut down the vehicle, it requires electrical power from the battery to start it. It works hand in hand with the positive and negative battery terminals to distribute electric flows to the system components.

Alternator: This works in harmony with the battery. While the battery supplies electric flow to start the vehicle when it’s off, the alternator keeps the vehicle running.

Electronic components do not work with direct current from the battery. They rely on the alternating current from the alternator to function.

Dashboard instruments, radios, windshield wipers, electric steering, heated seats, power steering, and headlights function with the alternating current. 

The alternator also keeps the battery charged to enable it to start the vehicle when you turn it off. The alternator converts mechanical energy from the engine into the electric current. There’s a serpentine belt that links the engine pulley to the alternator to keep it working once you turn on the engine.

Brakes: The brakes are a set of mechanical components that slow down or stop a moving vehicle. Without a good functioning brake system, a car will not stop when it’s needed to.

This can cause a minor scratch or a major collision. Simple scheduled maintenance helps to keep your brakes active in all situations and offers a quick response when you depress the brake pedal.

Parts of a car brake you should know includes brake pads, brake pedals, ABS control module, wheel speed sensor, shoe brakes, emergency brakes, disc rotor, brake booster, wheel cylinder, or brake pot, etc.

Muffler: Mufflers are part of the exhaust system and the manufacturers mount them at the rear end of the car. It reduces engine noise produced during the combustion process.

Automakers produce mufflers with steel materials and coat them with aluminum to prevent premature wear from the toxic chemicals produced by the engine. They’re also referred to as a silencer, as they silence or reduce loud engine noise. 

Although some motorists love the loud noises that come from the engine and often take off the muffler to make the vehicle sound like a racecar. The process of removing a muffler from a car is known as muffler delete.

Catalytic Converter: The catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control component that converts toxic gases from the combustion chamber into less toxic ones. It is seen on ICE vehicles – both gasoline and diesel.

Tailpipe: A tailpipe is at the rare end of an exhaust system. It is used to expel exhaust byproducts into the atmosphere. Exhaust pipes link several exhaust components together.

They can damage because of broken brackets, corrosion from age, and failed seals.

Temperature gauge: The temperature gauge is an important cooling system component that is on the instrument cluster. It measures the temperature of the engine coolant and projects it on the dashboard. It shows whether the cooling is running below normal temperature, operating at the right temp, or the engine is overheating.

When the engine is running at normal temperature, the gauge should be between the hot and cold levels on the dashboard.

The average temp reading may vary from car to car. Try to know where the average temp of your car settles at the normal operating level so you can detect when something is going wrong.

Fuel tank: The fuel tank, also known as the gas tank, is mounted under the middle or rear end of a vehicle. As the name suggests, the fuel tank is a container or tank that contains the fuel in a car. It also contains the fuel pump, fuel filter, and fuel gauge.

You can fill the tank through the gas cap. The fuel pump then exports the gas through the fuel lines to the injectors. As the pump sucks the fuel, the fuel filter, also known as a strainer, filters dirt and other contaminants from the fuel before it gets into the pump. The fuel lines are made of strong metal materials.

Fuel gauge: The fuel gauge is an important fuel system component that measures the amount of fuel in the tank. It works with a sending or sensing unit to project the level of gas on the dashboard.

It’s essential to ensure that the fuel gauge is working at all times. If it stops working, the driver will not know when the vehicle runs out of gas. This can stop the vehicle in the middle of nowhere.

Temperature gauge: Like the fuel gauge, the temperature gauge measures the engine coolant temperature. The temperature gauge works with the temperature sensor, which has a direct link to the engine coolant. The temp gauge is a dial on the instrument cluster that shows when the engine coolant temperature is low, average, and/or overheating.

When the engine is running at normal operating temperature, the dial will stay somewhere around the middle of the hot and cold levels indicator.

Note that the normal temperature reading position varies from car to car. Your vehicle’s normal reading can be above the cold level, in the middle, or somewhat above the centerline.

Rev counter: A rev counter, also known as a tachometer, revolution counter, or RPM gauge, is a device that measures the rotational speed of a disc or shaft in vehicles or any machines. The rev counter projects the revolution per minute (RPM) on the instrument cluster in an analog or digital form.

In vehicles, a tachometer displays the rotational speed of the engine crankshaft.

License plate: The license plate is the plate on the front bumper or rear bumper of a vehicle with alphanumeric digits. These digits are the identification of a particular vehicle. Bumper stickers are mere stickers on a vehicle to decorate it.

Transmission: This is one of the most important parts of a car. Without it, the vehicle can not move. The transmission connects to the rear end of an engine. It converts the engine force to physical momentum to move the wheels.

The transmission takes command from the drivers and changes the gears depending on the engine speed. The driver’s commands notify the transmission to change to higher or lower gears by accelerating or decelerating the engine.

It is important to note that the engine and the transmission work in harmony. If the engine malfunctions, it’ll affect the overall performance of the transmission. And if the transmission suffers any damage, it’ll also affect the optimal engine performance.

The engine and transmission have to be in good working condition for the vehicle to provide enough speed and torque.

Engine: The engine is the key component in a vehicle. Experts consider it the heart of the vehicle. Without it, the vehicle cannot start or move. It comprises several components, which work harmoniously to provide optimal performance.

It works by converting heat to a burning gas that drives the wheels with the help of a transmission. An engine has two major segments; the lower and upper segments.

The upper segment is the smaller part. It is called the head cylinder. Whereas the lower segment, known as the engine block, is the heavier part. Between both segments lies the head gasket, which provides sealant between both segments.

A/C Compressor: Air conditioning systems enable a comfortable driving experience. The AC compressor is a major component of the air conditioner. As the name suggests, it compresses air conditioning refrigerant from gas to a liquid state. When the refrigerant is in gas form, it absorbs heat.

If the AC compressor malfunctions, it’ll affect the overall AC system performance. The compressor functions as long as there’s adequate refrigerant and there’s no leak in the system or other issues, like a broken engine cooling fan.

Clutch: The clutch is a device that helps transfer power from the engine to the transmission. The clutch receives information from the driver via the clutch pedal. It is a left foot pedal next to the brake pedal.

When a driver depresses the clutch pedal, it stops the engine power from transferring to the transmission. Therefore, the driver has to depress the clutch pedal before changing gears.

Air filters: Air filters stop dirt and other contaminants from entering the cabin or engine. There are two types of air filters in cars. First, we have the one that filters the air entering the engine, and the second is the one that filters the air entering the cabin, so there won’t be dirt or dust entering inside the vehicle.

The engine needs an air/fuel mixture during the combustion process. The required air passed through the air filter to prevent transporting dirt, dust, and other contaminants into the combustion chamber. Cleaning or replacement of the air filters is required when they clog. This will enable better fuel economy.

Spark plugs: The spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. It works as fast as or as low as the engine revolution per minute. The spark plug should work effectively at all times. If any of it malfunctions, it’ll cause an engine misfire, rough idling, loss of engine power, and knocking.

If your engine is malfunctioning and you suspect the spark plugs as the culprit, remove it and inspect it. Clean or replace the spark plugs if you see deposits on the tip or thread.

Spare tire: A spare tire is as important as the ones on the wheels. It gives you peace of mind when traveling in case your tires run flat on the way. You’ll know the Importance of spare tires when you have flat tires in the middle of nowhere.

With the spare tire in place, you can install it and continue your journey. Once you get to your destination, fix the former tire and reinstall it. Do not leave a spare tire on your wheels for an extended period.

Whether the spare tire is a donut or regular spare tire size, reinstall the previous tire. Vehicles only need spare tires during emergencies. Always ensure they are at the correct PSI.

Pistons: Pistons are one of the major reciprocating components of an engine. A vehicle engine can have as low as three pistons or as high as sixteen pistons. An average car has four to six pistons.

As the pistons rotate inside the engine, they turn the crankshaft, which delivers power to the wheels to enable the car to move. The speed of the engine is determined by the rotational speed of the pistons and the crankshaft.

FAQs

Q: What are the basic parts of a car?

Whether you’re a gearhead or you take your vehicle to a mechanic garage whenever it develops a fault, you need to know the basic parts of your car. You’ll agree, it’s difficult to know all parts of a car.

Here are the basic car parts you should know.

  • Radiator
  • Brakes
  • A/C compressors
  • Battery
  • Starter
  • Alternator
  • Axles
  • Shock absorbers and strut
  • Catalytic converter
  • Muffler
  • Tailpipe
  • Fuel tanks
  • Engine
  • Transmission

Q: What are the body parts of a car?

Car body parts are essential exterior parts of a car. They provide unique functions. Automakers installed some to provide specific functions, while others also add to the aesthetic feel.

Here are parts of a car body you should know; hood, bumper, decklid, cowl screen, fender, grille, roof rack, rims, trunk, trim packages, and doors. Others include windows, glass, and sunroofs.

Q: What are the 4 main parts of a car?

A vehicle has several essential components that contribute to overall performance. However, there are four main parts in a vehicle.

These four main parts include the chassis, the body, the transmission, and the engine. Aside from these components, others are auxiliary components that aid performance.

Q: What is the bottom part of a car called?

The bottom part of a car lies beneath other components. Therefore, it is called the undercarriage. This term is driven from a horse-driven carriage. This, however, includes the landing gear of an airplane and the chassis of a car.

Q: How many sections is a vehicle structure divided into?

A vehicle structure is divided into three sections. Each component in any section performs a vital role in either enabling the vehicle to move, offering an aesthetic feel, or providing driving comfort.

The structural vehicle sections include;

  • The front structural section. This includes all the parts between the front bumper and the engine bay.
  • Midsection or center section. This includes the body parts and components that make the passenger compartment.
  • Tailor rear sections. It includes the components at the rear end of the car.

Q: What’s the front of a car called?

The component in the front of a car is the bumper. There are two bumpers – the front and rear bumpers. The front of the car that covers the engine is the hood, also known as the bonnet. It covers the engine compartment.

Q: What is the part of a car above the wheel called?

A vehicle wheel comprises several components. However, there’s a section of the car body called the wheelhouse. It is the part above the car and it provides room for the tire.

Final words

While all the parts of a car are essential, some are more vital than others. However, if you want to have an optimal driving experience, give every part the necessary treatment to keep it functioning as it should.

By now, you have learned about various parts of a car and their functions. Next time you visit your mechanic, address your car parts by their names.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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