Under the Hood

The Under the Hood Channel explores the systems that make your car function correctly. Learn about car parts and systems and how to do routine maintenance.

When most people are ready for a new car, the process typically involves a local car dealer or a few hours of online auto shopping. For others, it's the start of a project that may take years to finish.

There was a time when all cars were entirely hand-built -- assembled one at a time until each one was complete and then it was on to the next one. Automotive production lines changed that forever.

It's possible that someday there may be no need for a lot of the components that you currently find under the hood of a car or truck. That is, if the vehicle is equipped with in-wheel electric motors.

If you own a luxury or performance vehicle, then you know how expensive it can be to fill the fuel tank with premium gasoline. But is this high-octane fuel really necessary in most cases?

Synthetic motor oils have evolved rapidly in recent years to improve gas mileage, increase time between oil changes, clean out harmful engine deposits and more.

Most people know that tires are designed to wear with use. Wouldn't it be great if you could buy tires that regenerate the tread as they wear down?

Lifetime fluids are developed to require little or no maintenance for the life of your vehicle. But, is anyone developing lifetime engine oil?

You might not know that eLSD stands for electronic limited slip differential, but when one wheel of your car is sliding on ice and another isn't moving at all, you'll wish you had paid attention to this technology.

Have you ever wondered how cars get from the production plant to your local dealership? Believe it or not, there's an entire industry devoted to getting them there.

Would you be surprised to learn that automakers are using adhesives to bond components on modern vehicles? We're not talking about the glue you'll find on a typical craft table. These are automotive structural adhesives.

Even if you drive a hybrid vehicle, wouldn't it be great if you could get better mileage? How about 100 miles per gallon, or even more?

Most race fans dream of slipping behind the wheel of a purebred race car. As it turns out, your own car already has several features that were originally designed for racing. So what are they?

People are bad drivers. But as the DARPA Urban Challenge proves, sometimes cars are, too. Why does a department of the U.S. government conduct an annual race for fully robotic cars?

High gas prices are driving people to look at alternatives to fossil fuels, such as a turbine designed by the father of alternating current, Nikola Tesla.

If your car were skinny enough, you could follow that guy on the bicycle who is threading his way through parked traffic. What a joy that would be. Is there such a car?

The glory days of the over-sized SUV have ended. The lighter the vehicle, the less fuel it needs to get up and go. How light can a car be?

Sure it'd be nice to have your car ferry you through the morning commute, but that's the stuff of sci-fi dreams, right? You'll be surprised at what driverless technology is already under your hood.

The next time you're at the grocery store, take a moment to glance at the stacked shopping carts -- their space-saving design may be the basis for automobiles of the future.

If life is a highway, get ready to take a long subterranean trip. Underground automated highways will allow drivers to relax while self-driving vehicles steer, and tunnels could help conserve land.

High gas prices have many of us feeling the pinch, but for truckers, the situation may be even more serious. Can a German visionary transform the semi and get the trucking industry back on the road?

If pressed upon to name features in the luxury cars of the future, Japanese Zen garden might not be the first thing to come to your mind. But perhaps it should be. What concept cars are influencing future autos?

If you've been sassed or swindled by a taxi driver, relish the thought that future taxis might be driverless. Personal rapid transportation may be coming to a city near you in the future.

Speed is a constant: 100 mph will always be 100 mph. But the source of speed is up for grabs -- especially since we may have reached peak oil. Will high-speed hydrogen or all-electric cars dominate our roads one day?

You might like checking yourself out in your rearview mirror, but if you live and drive in the U.S., you might have to replace it soon with one of these gadgets. Are conventional rearview mirrors becoming obsolete? Will these devices eventually become a standard car feature?

The next time your car won't start and you're cursing the battery, you might want to blame the alternator, too. This coconut-sized car part works with the battery to generate power for your vehicle.