Auto Parts and Systems

Auto parts and systems are the building blocks that come together to make automobiles function. Understanding how auto parts work together to form automotive systems allows drivers to confidently discuss automotive problems with their mechanics.


It's your first time behind the wheel of a stick shift. You reach a stop sign on a hill and break into a cold sweat. But then your father reaches over and pulls the emergency brake. You immediately feel safe, but what's holding you in place?

When you're moseying down the highway with a heavy trailer hooked up to your truck, there are a dozen things that could go wrong. But don't worry about your tires going flat yet: The biggest culprit in towing trouble is you.

Dead weight and towed weight are terms that describe the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can safely tow. There is a difference between the two, but that difference depends on your trailer hitch.

The laws of physics explain how easily a truck can successfully tow a load twice its size. All you need to do is provide the force needed to overcome your vehicle's state of rest.

For impassioned towers among us, the debate over towing with an automatic or manual transmission is enough to start a riot. So it's not that heated, but it is a serious point to consider if you're going to haul a heavy load down the highway.

If your brake pedal feels a little soft or squishy, then there's a good chance that you have air in your brake lines. But how could air possibly get into a sealed hydraulic brake system?

When the Eagles sang "Take It to the Limit," they weren't referring to your car's towing capacity. There's a rating that defines how much weight your car can handle. Heed this magic number, and you'll be taking it easy on the highway.

Have you ever had to add brake fluid to your vehicle's master cylinder? Did you ever stop to think, why am I adding to a system that supposedly doesn't consume the fluid I pour in?

You must make sure that your cargo is light enough to tow it safely. You risk transmission damage and traffic accidents when you exceed your vehicle's towing capacity.

Towing a car may look easy, but there are a number of safety considerations you should take into account before you get started. It all depends on how you're towing.

Changing the brake pads on your car or truck sounds like a difficult task -- but when you find out how simple it is, you'll wonder why you haven't been doing it yourself all along.

Getting stuck behind a car with malfunctioning brake lights can be extremely frustrating. But before sounding your horn, consider that the driver might not even realize that his brakes lights are out.

The function of a brake caliper is relatively clear -- the caliper forces the brake pads against the rotor to slow or stop the vehicle. But what specific type of caliper does your vehicle need?

Heavy-duty items that get towed along roads in your community are limited to huge trucks, right? If you're not aware of your vehicle's towing capacity or of how heavy your innocuous load is, you might heaving a load better left to a semi.

The next time you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting a cat in the road, you should thank your car's backing plates. These automotive apparatuses keep the entire braking system functioning.

It's probably a safe bet that every driver on the road knows that their vehicle needs brakes to slow down or stop. But how many know that they have a choice of brake pad material?

Most drivers know the brakes on their vehicle have to be properly maintained to remain functional. But how many know that they can select new brake rotors based on the type of driving they do?

After a night of partying, you drive home and sneak the car in the garage. The only thing that could give you away: noisy brakes. You'll need brake shims to avoid being grounded.

We seek the best that life has to offer: buying first-class plane tickets, staying in the presidential suite, even getting plastic surgery. So why should we treat our brakes any differently?

There's nothing like hitting the wide open road and exploring the country, particularly when your ride sports a cushy crash pad when you're making a 3,000-mile pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon. But what are the drawbacks?

We've talked about trailer towing, but you also need to maintain it. It's actually pretty easy: Just make sure that you keep it clean and lubricated, and take special care of your tires.

Towing another vehicle isn't easy, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. You might be surprised how simple they are.

Choosing the proper ball mount is similar to choosing other towing accessories -- safety is the primary concern. But what are the different types of ball mounts available and what are the advantages of each?

You're finally heading out on that long-awaited vacation. You've got your RV and your car packed up. All you need is your rigid A-frame tow bar to connect the two, and you're ready to go.

You have a lot to options to consider when you're towing your car. Do you need an aftermarket braking system or breakaway brakes? What kind of towing suits me best? Do I need practice?