Can You Guess What These Auto Care Products Do?

By: Dave Davis
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
Tire Gauge Not to put pressure on you, but can you tell us what this device does?
Measures oil pressure
Measures tire pressure
A tire gauge is one of the must-haves in your glove compartment. It's cheap and easy to use — if the "low tire pressure" light comes to life on your dashboard, you can quickly determine the culprit. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle, by the way, can usually be found on a sticker on the side of the driver's door.
Measures time for racing cars
Measures engine cylinder compression

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Windshield washer fluid It's not that exciting, but you'll miss it if it runs out. What function does this fluid perform for your vehicle?
It drives the engine.
It lubricates the engine.
It cleans the windshield.
Windshield washer fluid is cheap and easy to find, but you'll miss it if it runs out when winter road salt is flying or after a particularly nasty bird strike. Special blends are available for winter and summer, along with varieties for getting rid of bug splatter. Or, you could always just go with everyone's favorite, "blue."
It cools the powertrain.

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Brake pads If you're a high-level DIYer, replacing these should be in your wheelhouse. What are they?
Speakers
Engine mounts
Cabin air filters
Brake pads
Brake pads are one of those items that will have to be changed several times during a car's life. If you have the know-how, the willingness and some pretty basic tools, you can do this yourself during an afternoon. There's no shame in taking it to the garage, however.

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WD-40 A garage staple, what does WD-40 do?
It's a lubrication fluid.
It's a solvent and rust remover.
Sold in its iconic blue and yellow can, WD-40 is a solvent and rust remover. It's NOT a lubricating fluid. It will stop a squeak for a while, but it will attract dust and dirt over time. It's best use is for removing rust and other material, which should then be lubricated with something more suitable for the job. WD-40 can also be used to unstick gum, erase crayon marks and loosen stubborn Lego pieces.
It cleans electronics.
It's an air freshener.

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Chamois This cloth shares its name with a European species of goat-antelope. What is its name?
Bast
Viscose
Chamois
A chamois, pronounced "sham-ee," is a cloth made by tanning and buffing a sheepskin until it's extremely soft and durable. It's great for drying and shining, in this case, the surfaces of your car. Synthetic chamois cloths are also available so that no sheep are harmed in the buffing of your vehicle.
Bisso

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dipstick The dipstick will tell you what?
The volume of fuel
The condition of the engine coolant
The volume and condition of power steering fluid
The volume and condition of the engine's oil
It's a simple enough check, but not enough people do it on a regular basis. The dipstick is easy to find on almost any vehicle, and it will tell you with just a little effort the volume of oil in the engine as well as its condition — if it's bright and clean or dark and dirty. Take the minute or so necessary every now and then, and pay attention to your ol' pal, the dipstick.

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Spark plug gap tool About the size of a coin, what is the purpose of this tool?
It converts miles to kilometers.
It brings luck to travelers.
It uses Bluetooth to help you find your keys.
It properly gaps the spark plugs.
The gap between the electrodes that the spark jumps between at the end of your spark plug must be set precisely to ensure that the engine timing remains true. The spark plug gap tool allows you to check that precise setting. The car's manual will let you know the specifics for your particular vehicle.

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OBDII This device plugs in under your dash, but what does it do?
It receives codes from your car's computer.
Your car's computer not only regulates what's going on under the hood, but through a special coding system it can also tell you or your mechanic what its sensors are reporting. The OBDII (On-Board Diagnostic II) scanner turns these codes into valuable messages that can save a lot of time.
It electronically tunes the engine.
It allows your car to receive satellite radio.
It overrides electronic restrictions to make your car go faster.

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Touch up paint This is small, but it can make a huge difference in your car's appearance. What is it?
Touch up paint
Although paint is a major element of your car's appearance, it does serve a functional purpose. Paint protects the metal underneath from the elements, and defects in your paint job can lead to rust down the road. A small container of touch-up paint can quickly fill small chips from rocks and other road debris.
Concentrated wax
Air freshener
Headlight cleaner

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Loose Wheel Nut Indicator. Used on trucks and trailers, what does this device help the driver see at a glance?
If there's an oil leak
If a lug nut has come loose
Installed when the lug nuts are tightened, this device allows truckers to make sure no nuts have come loose before starting their journey. A loose lug nut can lead to disaster on the road if not caught, so this device helps both the trucker and the cars around him or her.
If the CB radio is functional
If the truck is headed in the right direction

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Nitrogen Tire When you see a tire with a green stem cap, what does that mean?
The tire is filled with pure oxygen.
The tire is filled with nitrogen gas.
Tires with green stem caps have been filled with nitrogen instead of regular oxygen. The thought behind this is that nitrogen is less likely to migrate through the tire's surface than oxygen, so the tire's pressure is more stable and less likely to fluctuate with the temperature. The drawback is that it's harder and more expensive to fill tires with nitrogen.
The tire uses "run flat" technology.
Nothing. It's just a color choice.

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Fuses If something stops working on your car, these are often the first things to check. So, what are you checking?
Fuses
Just like your house, your car or truck uses fuses to guard against power surges or other occurrences that could harm electronic equipment. Vehicles generally have fuses both in the passenger compartment and around the engine, so if something stops working on your car, fuses are often the first thing to check.
Diodes
ECMs
Thermostats

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Oil filter Give us the name of this device, and you'll also tell us its function!
Air filter
Fuel filter
Oil filter
You need to change your oil regularly, and when you do, you also need to change out the filter. The filter on the average vehicle can hold almost a quart of oil, which is a large percentage of the total volume. Not changing the filter means that dirty oil is still in the system.
AM/FM frequency filter

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Coolant tester This device will give you valuable information about what system in your vehicle?
Fuel pressure system
Lubrication system
Fuel injector system
Engine coolant system
It's a good idea to test your coolant periodically, especially before the heat of summer or the cold of winter, to make sure your antifreeze is still up to the job. It's an easy procedure that can save you time and hassle when your coolant is put to the test.

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Floor jack For the professional or high-level DIYer, this is an important part of their garage's equipment. What does it do?
Lifts transmissions
Moves heavy equipment around the garage
Compresses air for impact tools
Lifts vehicles
The jack that comes with your car or truck is useful in a pinch, but for planned maintenance or repairs that require the vehicle to be lifted, the right tool for the job is a floor jack. Instead of endlessly cranking the car's jack, a few pumps of the floor jack's lever get the vehicle off the ground.

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Jumper cables You've seen them plenty of times, but what is the purpose of jumper cables?
To use one car's battery to start another car
You turn the key, and after a couple of feeble attempts at cranking the engine, your car lets you know that it's not going anywhere because the battery is dead. Getting a jump from another car can either help the battery regain its charge or at least allow you to get to a place where you can have a new battery installed.
To tow a car that won't start
To relieve pressure on an overheated radiator
To transfer information from the car's computer

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Spark plug wrench It's the right tool for the job, but what job would that be?
Loosening or tightening spark plugs
It's easier to get a wrench on spark plugs in some vehicles than others, but no matter what vehicle you're working on, a spark plug wrench will make short work of the job — and you won't have to deal with the bane of many an auto mechanic: a broken spark plug.
Tightening lug nuts
Pulling headlight bulbs
Getting to hard-to-reach nuts

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Oil filter wrench Get a grip and tell us what this device is intended to do!
It's a wrench for loosening an oil filter.
While changing the oil filter is a common maintenance chore, it can sometimes be a pain to get the thing loose for removal. Oil filter wrenches come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same purpose: to keep you from cursing so much every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
It's a device for removing a timing chain.
It sets the proper tension on pulleys.
It helps to get lug nuts loose.

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Creeper Don't let the name put you off — this device could be your best friend in the garage. Can you name it?
Tickler
Creeper
When you need to get under a vehicle, you can either do the shimmy-shake on the cold, cold floor or lay back on a creeper and roll yourself where you need to be. A creeper doesn't cost much, and it's worth every penny if you ever find yourself in that position.
Mangler
Crusher

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Headlight bulb Where would this bulb go in your car?
Overhead dome light
Taillight
Headlight
In the old days, there weren't many options when it came to headlights. These days, however, headlight technology has grown beyond standard headlights to also include projector beams, halo, HID, LED, laser and other types. Consult your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends, although you'll probably have some choices.
License plate light

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multimeter In the right hands, this device can provide valuable information. What's it called?
Fuse tester
OBD sensor
Multimeter
A fault in an electrical circuit can be difficult to track down, but the best tool to use when something isn't making a connection is a multimeter. This gadget might look intimidating at first, but with a little research and practice on your part, it can become one of the most valuable tools in the garage.
Omnisensor

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Impact wrench What do you think this tool does around the garage?
Cools material
Heats material
Uses air pressure to loosen and tighten bolts
If you regularly have to loosen and tighten bolts around the garage, an impact wrench can save you a lot of time and elbow grease. The tool uses compressed air or an electric motor to make quick work of lug nuts and other fastening nuts and bolts.
Bleeds hydraulic lines

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Buffer What do you think this device takes care of?
Dirty tires
Dirty windshield
Scratches in paint
A good buffer can hide a lot of flaws, scratches and other imperfections in your vehicle's paint or chrome. Just be careful: if you don't know how to use this tool, you can actually leave more scratches and imperfections in your vehicle's appearance than you started with.
Imperfections in upholstery

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Lug wrenches What is the purpose of these devices?
They signal other motorists that you need help.
They help mechanics get belts off of various engine pieces.
They are used to adjust the suspension.
They loosen or tighten lug nuts.
A good lug wrench is worth its weight in gold when you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or on the side of a busy road. Most wrenches of this type have different sizes on each end for various lug nuts, and the crossbar allows you to get leverage to loosen or tighten the nut.

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Air filter The name of this device also says what it does. So, what's it called and what does it do?
Oil filter
Fuel filter
Water filter
Air filter
All the air that goes into your engine for the internal combustion process first goes through the air filter, to keep particulates and debris out of the workings of your motor. It's an easy part to check on, and it's an easy part to replace when it gets dirty.

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Battery charger There's no substitute when you need one. What does this device do?
It resets the car's computer.
It charges the battery.
When a car won't start and you don't have another car available for a jump, a charger will be your best bet in getting the battery up to charge so it can do its job. It can take a while to get the battery back up to full strength (if the battery isn't old or damaged), so plan ahead.
It checks the condition of the oil.
It finds short circuits in your car's electrical systems.

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Antifreeze It looks radioactive, but it performs a valuable service for your engine. What is this fluid?
Motor oil
Antifreeze
Antifreeze generally comes in two varieties: Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) antifreeze, which is green; and Organic Acid Technology (OAT) antifreeze, which can be orange, red, pink or blue (and sometimes green). Do NOT mix them! When mixed, they can form a gel, and your coolant will not flow, meaning your engine will overheat.
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid

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Jack stand Proper use of this device can save your life. What's it called?
Hammer stand
Jenkins stand
Fly stand
Jack stand
Having a car jack or a floor jack is a great way to get your car up so you can get clearance, but if you're getting under the car, do NOT do it without setting up jack stands. In the event that the jack gives way, the stands will keep the car from crushing whatever is underneath — such as the mechanic.

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Oil funnel What is the purpose of the yellow device in this picture?
To filter the oil before it enters the engine
To make sure oil doesn't spill on the engine
Changing oil or topping it off can be a messy business, but a simple funnel will keep it where it's going and prevent it from spilling onto surfaces that will become very hot when the engine is put into motion. Don't use the same funnel in the kitchen, though.
To provide fuel for a first-start engine
To provide air to the engine after a rebuild

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Air compressor It's got a lot of purposes in a garage, but what does this device do?
Compresses fluid
Drains hydraulic lines
Compresses air
A good air compressor has a lot of purposes around the garage. It can not only fill tires (and basketballs, footballs, floaties and other items) but, if it's strong enough, it can also power impact tools and get some real work done.
Measures engine torque

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Refrigerant What function does this device perform?
It blows out your fuel injection system.
It fumigates the interior.
It temporarily fixes flat tires.
It recharges your A/C system.
Over time, the refrigerant in your air conditioning system needs to be recharged. You can have your garage mechanic take care of this task, or, if you're a bit handy and want to do it yourself, you can buy a kit and give yourself the gift of cool car rides in the summer.

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Oil You're going nowhere without this fluid. What is it?
Motor oil
Motor oil is the lifeblood of your car's engine. Without oil to lubricate all the many, many moving parts, your engine would heat up from the friction and quickly seize, putting you in a bad mood and in need of a new engine. Check your manual to see how often your car's oil should be changed, based on mileage, and stick to that schedule.
Gasoline
Coolant
Power steering fluid

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Air freshener There's no shame in this. What service does the thing hanging off the rearview mirror in this picture perform?
It tells you the direction of travel.
It freshens the air.
Hey, we're not judging. Sometimes a car doesn't have, well, that new car smell. If you can't (or won't) clean out the back seat at the moment, slapping one of these on the rearview mirror might help.
It blocks the sun.
It keeps the rearview mirror in place.

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Timing Light This device is used by mechanics and serious DIYers. What is it?
Timing light
Timing is everything when it comes to optimal engine performance, and for those tuning a motor, a timing light is a great tool for getting the job done. Connected to the ignition circuit, the light strobes and lets the mechanic know if the timing is correct when it comes to the motion of the crankshaft or flywheel.
Laser temperature gauge
Sonic amplifier
Remote starting device

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Snow chains Why would you ever put chains on your tires?
For traction in snow or slick conditions
When there's snow or ice (or mud) on the path ahead, tire chains can give you that extra bit of traction to get through the challenging conditions. The chains should go on all tires for maximum effect, but they need to go on the drive wheels to have any effect. They should never be used on bare pavement because such misuse can damage your tires, the road and the chains themselves.
When there's a problem with the tire
To protect tires on rough terrain
To keep thieves from stealing hubcaps

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Car wax What is the functional reason behind using wax on your car?
It allows the car to cut through the air better.
It makes the car more reflective for better visibility.
It protects the paint against scratches.
A good coat of wax will protect your car against scratches by allowing dirt to slide off rather than embed in the paint. A coat of wax lasts about three months, however, so reapplying every week isn't necessary. That it makes the car look pretty is a lovely side effect, though.
It makes it pretty.

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Microfiber Mitt What are the uses of a microfiber mitt?
Dusting surfaces
Washing the car
Shining reflective surfaces
All of the above
A good microfiber mitt will accomplish a lot of tasks when it comes to keeping your automotive baby looking its best. Microfiber cloths are often made of a blend of polyester and polyamide or nylon, and they are made so the fibers split, creating lots of porous fiber surfaces.

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Spark Plugs You know your car has them, but what do spark plugs actually do?
They warm the combustion chamber.
They provide the spark for the combustion process.
For your gasoline engine to work, there needs to be a spark to combust the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder to move the engine's pistons. As the name suggests, the spark plugs provide this element. On average, spark plugs need to be changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, depending on the plugs and your particular vehicle.
They providing timing for the engine.
They deaden the sound of the combustion process.

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Taillight blubs What is the use of these replaceable bulbs in your car?
They are headlight bulbs.
They are sidelight bulbs.
They are taillight bulbs.
The taillights of your car convey a lot of information for those behind you. They indicate the direction you intend to go, if you're braking or if you're backing up. In addition, they help others see the rear of your car at night. Periodically check to make sure that all of these bulbs are in good working order.
They are license plate bulbs.

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windshield chip What does this medical-looking device do for your car?
Repairs chips in the windshield
Rocks and other debris can take their toll on your windshield, and a particularly aggressive bit of junk can make a chip in the windshield. If it's not too bad, you can sometimes use a chip repair kit to inject a bit of resin into the fault to keep it from spreading. If the windshield is badly damaged, however, go ahead and get it replaced for safety's sake.
Takes samples of the oil for examination
Injects fuel additives to clean the cylinders
Takes samples of the air in the cabin for study

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