Are You Smart Enough to Be an Auto Mechanic?

By: Zoe Samuel
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Are You Smart Enough to Be an Auto Mechanic?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Once upon a time, illiterate people could be auto mechanics. High school dropouts would spend their weekends tearing down and rebuilding engines, tweaking suspensions, or replacing exhaust manifolds. Boy, how things have changed.

Today, having a car that is governed by a computer is no longer a novelty. All modern cars have computers that oversee the engine, run the infotainment system, and monitor the suspension. Today, the magnetically actuated, computer controlled suspension system developed by General Motors for Cadillac and Chevy is licensed to Ferrari and other makes. It uses a suite of sensors to monitor the road surface, vector of the vehicle, and power from the engine, and input from the driver to decide how best to make a ride hard and sporty, or gentle and comfortable. Being an auto mechanic means being able to fiddle with the physical components and troubleshoot the software overseeing the whole physical system.

So how would you fare at a contemporary auto shop? Would you have the mechanical IQ to rebuild an engine? The technical ability to fine tune steering? The intelligence to install, maintain, or modify the computers that make everything work in concert? There is only one way to find out! Take this quiz to know if you have the brains to be an auto mechanic.

If a computer does not start, and makes a beeping sound, what is the first thing you would check?
The video card
The power supply
Is there an encrypted drive plugged in?
The Apple store

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If a computer will not respond at all when you try to start it, what is the first thing you would check?
If it is plugged in
The power supply
Is the monitor plugged in?
Is my dad home?

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What is a turbocharger?
A forced induction system that rams fresh air into the engine to increase efficiency
A forced induction system that rams fresh air into the engine to increase power
An over-hyped technology that inflates power and efficiency figures
It's a thing that makes acceleration powerful, but laggy

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What is a supercharger?
A device that increases the pressure of the fuel-air mixture, driven by exhaust
It's like a turbocharger, but bad.
It's like a turbocharger, but better.
It's like a turbocharger, but easier to install.

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What is special about Mercedes-Benz turbocharged V-8?
The turbo sits in the center of the V, increasing power and efficiency.
It has a unique design that makes it harder to work on.
It's much too hyped.
It's much too expensive.

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What does AMG allege about all engines it builds?
That they are all hand-built.
They're the best of the best.
They're built to last forever.
They're worth the money.

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What is special about Mazda's new Skyactiv-3 engine?
It's as efficient and kind to the environment as a natural gas engine.
It's as clean as an electric engine.
It's the most advanced internal combustion engine out there.
I have no idea.

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What feature sets the Cadillac CTS and most Ferraris apart from other cars?
Magnetic ride suspension
50/50 weight distribution
Terrible infotainment systems
Cool factor

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What futuristic new feature is the most useful one on the Cadillac CT6?
The rear view mirror
The semi-autonomous driving feature
Apple Carplay
It has a massive trunk

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Why do so many modern cars have terrible blind spots?
All the weight of the car has to be supported by the roof in the event of a rollover.
The B and C pillars are huge.
Fastback design means huge C pillars.
It's a conspiracy by the automakers to make us by blind spot warning extras.

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What technological feature is shared by Alpine, Alfa Romeo, Bently, and Buick?
Android Auto
Apple Carplay
Power steering
Heated seats

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What is a differential?
An engineering element that keeps the wheels from spinning out, in a nutshell.
A device that distributes power to the wheel that can grip.
Either a mechanical or electronic device that controls the power to the wheels in order to give increased grip and control.
It's what lets a Ford Focus RS go sideways when you want it to.

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What is a drive train?
It's the name for the system that sends the power from the engine to the wheels.
It's the backbone of the car without which the car would just be a massive paper weight.
It's the complex system that takes a large amount of horsepower from the engine and makes it a more modest amount of horsepower at the wheels.
It's the long thing under the car.

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What is a Wankel engine?
It's a rotary engine designed by a German and embraced by Mazda.
It's a gas engine with only one moving part.
It's an inefficient but fun engine that breaks all the time.
It's a strange engine found in an RX-8.

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What is a straight 6?
It's an old fashioned kind of engine.
It's an easy to repair kind of engine.
It's an engine favored in the classic car days and starting to find new applications.
It's the only engine I know how to work on.

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What was the operating system of your first computer?
MS DOS
Windows XP
OSX
Android

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Why is a boxer called a boxer?
Because it bounces around like a boxer.
Because its four cylinders are like a fist.
Because engineers like to think they're tough guys.
Because the name "Boxster" was already taken.

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What level of autonomous driving does Tesla currently have?
Autopilot is level 2.
2, but they say they'll be at level 5 soon.
It's at the "I don't trust it" level.
What are the levels?

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What brand of car has historically taken safety to extremes?
Saab
Volvo
Mercedes Benz
GM

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What nationality was Volvo in the early 2000s?
Swedish
American
German
I have no idea.

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What is the difference between VRAM and RAM?
VRAM is RAM on the video card.
VRAM is used to process video, exclusively.
VRAM makes certain software faster.
The V division of Cadillac makes their fast cars, but Ram is a brand under Chrysler.

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What nationality is Volvo today?
Swedish
Chinese
American
I have no idea.

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What is the most technical software you know how to use?
CAD software.
CNC machine software.
I can use anything made by Adobe.
Candy Crush.

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What usually fixes most computer problems?
Re-installing everything.
Restarting.
Hitting it.
Throwing it away and getting a new one.

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What is the most overlooked aspect of cars that really matters?
Tires
User interface
Visibility
Rims

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What does having bigger wheels do to a car?
It's like being in a higher gear all the time.
It makes the engine work harder.
It's only really useful in certain off-roading situations.
It makes your car cooler.

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What advantage does sports exhaust give the driver?
It can be turned off to make the car quiet.
It can be turned on to make the car noisier.
It doesn't really do anything for emissions or efficiency.
It's good for flexing.

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What is a unibody?
A car frame that includes bodywork and structural members.
A design that means the body and frame are connected, so if you break it, the whole car is totaled.
A risky design element that could mean the car is easily totaled, but these cars are generally safer.
It's a car frame that means you can't heavily modify the way the car looks.

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What is a beltline?
The design element comprising the line from the rear end of the hood, back along the lower window sills to the top of the trunk.
A line down the side of the car.
An aesthetic touch.
The place where the thing that holds up my trousers sits.

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What is the advantage of body on frame construction?
It makes maintenance much easier.
It means the body can be smashed to pieces without damaging the frame.
It means the car is old and thus easier to maintain.
It means you can replace body parts more easily.

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