Auto Basics

The Auto Basics Channel offers detailed, accurate articles about cars and educates you on auto terminology. For fun, get to know how car crushers and car washes work or which 33 cars are named after animals.


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What is the four-stroke combustion cycle?

The Otto cycle includes the intake, compression, combustion and exhaust strokes. Learn about the four-stroke combustion cycle from this article.

How to Use Jumper Cables

If you drive a car, know how to use jumper cables should just be second nature.

How Car Washes Work

Drive in. Soap up. Scrub. Blast. Rinse. Wax. Dry, then touch up. These are the processes of a car wash. But what can't you see from behind the soapy windows?

How Automobiles Work

An automobile contains dozens of different technologies -- everything from the engine to the tires is its own special universe of design and engineering. Here are some of the highlights.

How Car Crushers Work

Ever wonder what happens to junked cars? Car crushers flatten them into tiny cubes or slabs after the vehicle has been stripped of its recyclable parts. How do car crushers work? And is this a lucrative business?

What do you think highways will look like in 2050?

When we think about the ways technology will change the way we drive, we often think about the systems in our cars. But there may be ways to improve the highways themselves. How will our roads change in the future?

How do you double clutch shift?

Double-clutching used to be a common method to switch gears in manual-transmission vehicles. Learn what it means to double-clutch shift in this article.

How do you lock the rear differential?

To keep your wheels rotating at the same speed, you can manually lock your rear differential. Learn how to lock the rear differential in this article.

How Taxi Meters Work

A taxi meter -- that little box next to the driver - is an impartial arbiter of time, distance and cost. Knowing how a taxi meter and taxi fares work can help you to be sure that you're treated fairly.

How Automotive Proving Grounds Work

In 1924, General Motors opened the Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich. -- the world's first dedicated automotive proving ground. So, what exactly are proving grounds and what do the automakers do there?

Do red-light cameras save lives?

The first red-light cameras were installed more than a decade ago. But have they really helped to reduce the number of accidents at the intersections where they're used? Can a red-light camera save lives?

What does a chop shop do?

Every 40 seconds, a car or truck is stolen in the United States. And nearly 25 percent of those are stolen by professionals who run illegal chop shops where mechanics dismantle cars and sell them for parts.

Top 5 Ways to Get a Good Deal on a Car

Buying a new car can be an intimidating experience. How do you know you're getting a good deal? How can you be sure you aren't making a crucial (and costly) mistake? These 5 tips might help.

Is texting while driving really worse than drunk driving?

Several states have created new laws to ban drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle. But is there really any proof that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving?

Could we power all cars entirely from wind power?

Despite modern forecasting techniques, wind remains a fickle element. It's seasonal, dependent on storms and highly variable. Can we really count on wind to deliver steady, reliable energy for our cars?

How the Autobahn Works

The word "autobahn" conjures images of top-speed thrills on smooth stretches of highway in the Bavarian heartland. The truth is, most German drivers simply consider it a way to get from point A to point B.

How Automotive Recalls Work

Automotive recalls are often front-page news -- and for good reason. Recalls warn consumers that a specific product poses a potential threat. What do you do if your car is recalled?

How Gas Pumps Work

You probably pass by several gas pumps on your daily commute, but you never pay them any attention -- until you need some gas, of course. Here's everything you'd ever want to know about them.

Did da Vinci really sketch a primitive version of the car?

Most consider Leonardo da Vinci the ultimate Renaissance man. But did this 13th-century genius have the foresight to sketch the basic principle for today's cars?

Why did cars become the dominant form of transportation in the United States?

Cars are a relatively recent phenomenon. They've only been around for a little over a century, yet they've made a huge impact on U.S. culture. How did the car become so important in American life?

13 Land and Water Speed Records

World speed records are kept for just about everything that goes. Here are records for some of the world's fastest vehicles on land and sea.

8 Automotive Lemons

Sometimes a great idea just doesn't pan out when the rubber hits the road. Check out our list of 8 automotive lemons and learn why they flopped.

33 Cars Named After Animals

Whether channeling the speed of a stallion or the sting of an insect, automakers have often named vehicles after animals. How many of these do you recognize?

How Sports Cars Work

Trace the exciting history of sports cars, from their postwar boom to the present day. Along the way, you will also find links to individual sports car profiles that offer history, specs, and photos. Here is your chance to climb behind the wheels of some the fastest and most innovative sports cars ever built.

Understanding Auto Parts

As illustrated by the hundreds of individual parts for sale at your local Pep Boys Autozone or Napa Auto Parts it takes a lot of machinery to make cars work. Learn about the key parts.