We understand that you didn't go to school to become a mechanic. But there are certain car parts that you should be able to identify and understand since knowing what they do will help keep your car properly maintained and help you to identify potential problems. Here is the second half of our list of parts every car owner needs to understand, the first half is here:
4) Oil Filter
What it does - The oil filter eliminates impurities from your engine oil by filtering it and catching microscopic metal shavings and specks of dirt. It's basically like a Brita filter; it allows your engine to use clean filtered oil just like you would want to drink clean filtered water.
Why it's important - Over time, your oil filter will become clogged and ineffective. Once this happens, it will no longer be able to filter clean oil into your engine, and you'll end up using dirty, corrosive oil filled with particles to lubricate your engine. This will eventually lead to a host of problems, including potential permanent engine damage. This is why you must change your oil and filter according the specifications in your car owner's manual.
5) Tires and Spare Tire
What it does - Look at it this way, your tires are literally the only connection between your car and the road. Your spare tire is also your one shot to get out of a flat tire without having to call someone to tow your vehicle away.
Why it's important - Your tires can mean the difference between a safe drive and a dangerous drive. They can mean the difference between poor and optimal gas mileage and the difference between being able to get up that hill in a snowstorm. Regularly checking your tire's tread and pressure is absolutely vital for safe and effective driving. Choosing the proper tires depending on vehicle and season is also pivotal if you live in an area with a harsher climate and rough terrain. Finally, knowing how to use your spare tire and making sure that it too is properly inflated can save you if you're ever stuck on the side of the road.
6) All Fluids
What it does - Your car uses different fluids to run properly. The dipstick allows you to measure the quantity and appearance of various fluids in your vehicle. There are multiple dipsticks, typically for the engine oil, transmission fluid and possibly the power steering fluid. You will also have the ability to check and add brake fluid, coolant and windshield washer fluid.
Why it's important - It's important to keep your fluids filled for your car to function properly. Letting your fluids run out or not changing your oil can lead to extensive vehicle damage. Take out your owner's manual, open the hood of your car and identify where each respective fluid belongs. Keep in mind that each car will have it's own specifications for the fluid that's acceptable for use. Make sure to follow all instructions in the vehicle owner's manual when adding or changing fluids.