Understanding the workings of a car may appear to be an impossible task, but the fundamental principles are quite simple. It’s a good idea to divide the vehicle into sections and watch how each one performs. The chassis and bodywork serve as the common denominator upon which the other sections are built. The chassis frame was typically a separate entity to which the body was bolted. However, with the built-in stiffening of the unitary/chassis units, it has become the norm.
Almost all car bodies are made of a single steel unit, but a few, mostly sports cars, have glass-fibre bodywork covering a separate steel chassis.
Fuel and exhaust systems are included. The engine is located at the back of the unit. An electric fuel pump is installed in the rear, between the tank and the carburettor. A fuel pump can be mechanically or manually operated, and is usually found on the engine
The clutch, gearbox, final drive, and drive shafts are all part of the transmission. Some front-wheel-drive vehicles have their gearboxes beneath the engine, where they share an oil supply. Others mount their gearboxes alongside the engine, where they are lubricated separately. Both ends of the drive shafts have universal joints that allow steering and suspension movement.
Wheels are typically made of pressed steel, but higher-priced models may be made of light alloys. Radial-ply tyres have nearly completely replaced the inferior cross-ply tyres and have improved grip. Brakes are almost always discs in front and drums in back, as on this car, but a few cars still have drums in front and some have all discs.
The electrical system includes circuits to power lights, wipers, and other accessories, as well as the ignition. A generator (dynamo or alternator) is at the heart of this system; nearly all modern cars are equipped with an alternator, which has the advantage of producing higher outputs, particularly at low engine speeds.
Nowadays, anything other than rack-and-pinion steering is uncommon, but many cars have a variety of systems. A hydraulic pump drives power assistance on larger cars, which would otherwise have uncomfortably heavy steering.
This includes the springs, dampers, and linkages that hold the wheels in place. Suspension can be independent, meaning that one wheel can move up and down without affecting the opposite number, or non-independent, meaning that there is a link between the two sides.