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Beginners Guide Tips and Tutorials Archive

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Car's Heater Core (And What Does It Do)?

What is a car's heater core?
A heater core is very much just a smaller version of a radiator, but instead of being used to cool the coolant in the motor, it uses the heat from that coolant to warm the car’s interior. It works, in essence, by diverting coolant from the rest of the car’s cooling system. As the car’s engine warms...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Drive Axle (and What Does It Do)?

Beginner's Guide to Drive Axles
modern cars with independent rear suspension or front wheel drive have a much more complex axle with constant velocity (CV) joints on either end allowing them to steer and follow the contours of the road. This increased complexity means increased chance of something going wrong, but in return the...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Starter Motor (and What Does It Do)?

Beginner's Guide to Starter Motors
Once the engine in your car is started, as long as it receives air, fuel, and spark it will effectively run indefinitely without any assistance. This is why generators and irrigation pumps can be used in remote areas without an engineer tending them constantly. There has even been talk of using...

Beginner's Guide: What Is Traction Control (and What Does It Do)?

Beginner's Guide: What Is Traction Control?
A car’s traction control system uses a computer and the same sensors used for the anti-lock brakes to detect a difference in the speed of the wheels on the car. But instead of working to limit wheel lock-up when applying the brakes, traction control uses various methods to stop the wheels from...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Catalytic Converter (and What Does It Do)?

What is a catalytic converter in your car
A vehicle’s catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) into less harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20). Nearly all new cars in the US have used them since 1975. Almost every developed country in the 21st century requires...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Timing Belt/Chain (and What Does It Do)?

Timing Chain
The timing belt or chain in your car's engine keeps the opening of the valves properly timed with the motions of the pistons so they don't interfere with each other. To understand how it works and why, it may help to review how the typical four stroke engine works. All modern overhead cam...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Rotary Engine (and How Does It Work)?

What is a rotary engine (and how does it work)?
We have previously explained how four-stroke piston engines work, but that is not the only way to turn fuel and air into power. Perhaps the most unusual engine design to ever find its way into a production car, the Wankel Rotary Engine is elegant in its simplicity; it has about 75% less moving...

Beginner's Guide: What Is a Four Stroke Engine (and How Does It Work)?

What is a 4 stroke engine
These days, all cars and light trucks use four-stroke piston engines, whether burning gasoline or diesel. This means that the crankshaft must go around twice, and each piston moves up and down two times, to produce one pulse of power. To put it another way, the piston goes up-down, up-down, for...