How Complete Is Your Basic Car Knowledge?

Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Which of these car components is being put to the test when you go in for an emissions inspection?
Caliper
Catalytic converter
A catalytic converter helps to reduce the emission of three dangerous substances -- carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. By keeping these components under control, your catalytic converter helps to reduce air and water pollution over time. If your catalytic converter isn't doing its job, you'll likely find out the next time your car is due for an emissions test.
Brakes
Radiator

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Which unique number helps to identify your vehicle and distinguish it from other cars?
VIN
The vehicle identification number, or VIN, on your car serves much the same purpose as your Social Security number does for you. It helps to identify your unique vehicle and distinguish it from other cars.
PID
CNC
PCN

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Squealing your way to the stop light? That sound usually means you need to replace ...
Tires
Brakes
When you push the brake pedal, the brake pads clamp around the rotor of your car, forcing the vehicle to a stop. As brake pads wear away, you may hear a squeal or even a grinding sound when you try to brake. This sound means it's time to invest in some new brake pads.
Windshield
Engine

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How often should you get an oil change, on average, to keep your car running smoothly?
3,000 miles
5,000 miles
Some car maintenance companies have promoted the idea that every car requires an oil change every 3,000 miles, but that isn't necessarily the case. According to AAA, most vehicles can go 5,000 to 7,500 miles between oil changes. Always check your manual to see how often your oil needs to be swapped out, and head in for an oil change at least once a year if you haven't put very many miles on the car.
20,000 miles
100,000 miles

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Which part of the car is responsible for helping the engine stay cool?
Muffler
Alternator
Catalytic converter
Radiator
Your engine performs a tremendous amount of work converting fuel into power for your drive, and all that work produces a lot of heat. The radiator inside your car allows the coolant from the engine to release heat before circulating back into the engine to repeat the process.

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Which of these do you use to change gears in a car with a manual transmission?
Muffler
Brake
Clutch
While many modern cars are equipped with automatic transmission, some vehicles are still manual, which means you have to shift gears yourself as you drive. This involves pressing down on the clutch, and timing your actions properly to keep the engine from stalling.
Alternator

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Which car system shifts into motion the moment you change gears, helping you reach your desired speed?
Transmission
In simple terms, your transmission transforms the energy from your car's engine into the movement of the tires. That means transferring the correct amount of power to the wheels based on the speed you're trying to achieve.
ABS
Suspension
Spoiler

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What is the main job of the muffler on a car?
Charging the battery
Reducing noise
Ever seen that pipe sticking out of the rear of your car? That's part of the muffler. This device is filled with tubes that are designed to reduce engine noise. As sound waves from the engine enter these tubes, they bounce around and break up, reducing the noise your car makes as you drive.
Improving fuel economy
Assisting with braking

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The term prindle is slang for this car component.
Gears
On a typical automatic transmission, the gears are represented by the letters PRNDL -- park, reverse, neutral, drive and low -- near the shifter. Just don't get a craving for chips when you think about your gearshift!
Brakes
Engine
Seatbelts

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What is the main job of the alternator?
Cooling the engine
Assisting with braking
Charging the battery
The alternator in a car acts as a generator of sorts. It connects to the engine, allowing the car battery to charge when the engine is running. Without an alternator, the battery would run out of juice fairly quickly.
Reducing engine noise

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Which part of the car do brake pads clamp down on when you hit the brake pedal?
Engine
Axle
Rotor
Rotors are disks attached to the wheels of your car. When you brake, the pads compress around the rotors to stop the vehicle. These disks are at risk for damage if you fail to change your brake pads when they wear out.
Hubcaps

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Which car part transfer the torque from your car engine to the tires?
Muffler
Axle
A typical passenger car has two axles, and each axle has one tire at either end. The axles transfer rotation from the engine to the tires to get you moving along the highway.
Alternator
Caliper

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What percent of new cars don't come with a spare tire?
5 percent
20 percent
33 percent
Spare tires in the trunk used to be a given, but today around a third of all new cars don't actually come with a spare, according to Consumer Reports. Car makers not only save money by not supplying the tire, but also can slightly improve fuel economy by removing that extra weight.
50 percent

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Which of these is a typical tire pressure range for a passenger car?
5 to 10 psi
12 to 18 psi
20 to 25 psi
32 to 35 psi
Improperly inflated tires can not only be a danger on the road, but can also reduce both your fuel economy and the life of your tires. While 32 to 35 psi is a typical range for tires, you should always check your manual to confirm the correct psi for your ride.

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What is the name of the device used to lift a car during a tire change?
Lull
Jack
A jack is a surprisingly simple device that holds a car off the ground while you change the tire. A standard screw or scissor jack comes with many new cars, while auto shops use hydraulic or mechanical jacks.
Mike
Tree

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ABS is a type of ____________ system.
Braking
Anti-lock braking systems, or ABS, are designed to prevent your wheels from locking up. On older cars without ABS, you're often told to pump the brakes when wheels lock, but this pumping isn't necessary with ABS technology.
Steering
Speaker
Battery charging

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How often should you change your spark plugs?
5,000 miles
15,000 miles
30,000 miles
Believe it or not, modern platinum or iridium tipped spark plugs can last 100,000 miles or more! Despite that, most mechanics recommend replacing them at specific intervals, such as every 30,000 miles, to reduce your risk of a breakdown.
Never

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Which shape should you use as your guide when tightening lug nuts?
Circle
Rectangle
Octagon
Star
If you tighten your lug nuts one after the other, moving around the tire, you could run the risk of one or more coming loose. Instead, use a star pattern to tighten lugs on a diagonal to ensure they stay tight.

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What's the name of that wand used for checking the oil?
Dipstick
Checking the oil level in a car is one of the most basic DIY maintenance tasks. To do it right, park the car on level ground, pop the hood and pull out the dipstick that's hidden under the oil cap. Wipe it clean then reinsert it before pulling it out to see how your oil levels stack up.
Drum bone
Tuning pointer
Oil straw

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How long does the average car battery last?
6 months to a year
1 to 2 years
3 to 5 years
A typical car battery lasts 3 to 5 years, according to AAA. Plan on a shorter life for your battery if you take lots of short trips or live in a hot climate.
10 years or more

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Which car system do calipers play a role in?
Steering
Braking
Calipers are metal devices used in the braking system of a car. Brake pads are attached to the calipers, which are mounted near the rotors. When pads wear out, the calipers can eventually become damaged if the pads aren't replaced.
Navigation
Fuel injection

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What is the primary job of the suspension system?
Improve fuel economy
Reduce engine noise
Provide comfortable ride
The suspension system in a car consists of springs and shock absorbers. This system not only absorbs the bumps on the road so you don't feel them as much, but also helps to keep tires in contact with the road regardless of the driving conditions.
Assist in braking

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When must you use premium gas?
When your car is more than 5 years old
When your manual says you should
While some cars absolutely benefit from premium gas, the majority will enjoy similar performance when filled with regular fuel. Check your manual to see whether you need to splurge on premium, and if you don't, stick with regular gas and soak up the cost savings.
When you want to save money
When it's on sale

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What is the proper name for the frame of a car?
Crib
Chassis
The chassis of a car is the frame that systems like the brakes, steering and tires are attached to. A rolling chassis generally includes the frame as well as the engine, tires and other parts needed to make the car move.
Roller
Cage

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How often do you need to replace your wiper blades?
Every month
Every 6 months
AAA recommends replacing wipers blades every 6 months. You should also swap them out for new ones if they are streaking, squeaking or skipping.
Every 3 years
Every 10 years

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Which of these car components sometimes needs to bleed?
Tires
Muffler
Alternator
Brakes
If air gets into your brake lines, you may notice that the brake pedal feels or functions differently. To fix this, you must bleed the brakes by removing the air using the brake bleeder screw and some relatively simple tools.

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How do you regain control of a skidding car if you don't have anti-lock brakes?
Let go of the wheel
Pump the brakes
Cars without anti-lock brakes are prone to skidding out of control if the wheels lock up. If this happens to you, pump the brakes to regain control of the car.
Hit the gas
Bail out

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How often should you plan to replace a serpentine belt?
5,000 miles
15,000 miles
30,000 miles
60,000 miles
A serpentine belt connects various parts, like the alternator and pumps. Plan to replace this belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles to keep your car in top condition.

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What is the name of the trim that extends up from the back of some cars to catch the wind?
Alternator
Flap
Rotor
Spoiler
A spoiler is a piece of sporty trim offered as an option on many cars. While it gets its name from the fact that it ruins the aerodynamics of the vehicle, it also helps to prevent lift -- and looks cool, to boot.

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What are the very low lights that are close to the road on the front of a car called?
High beams
Road lights
Wind lights
Fog lights
When it's foggy outside, standard headlights can reflect off the fog and make visibility worse. Fog lights, located closer to the road surface, are designed to shine down onto the road itself rather than reflecting off the fog.

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How far can you travel in a standard car before changing the engine air filter?
3,000 to 5,000 miles
5,000 to 10,000 miles
15,000 to 30,000 miles
While the exact mileage you can get out of an engine air filter depends on driving conditions, AAA recommends springing for a new one every 15 to 30,000 miles. Not only will this allow you to maximize fuel efficiency, but it also keeps unwanted debris out of your engine.
40,000 to 50,000 miles

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Which of these situations would warrant a switch to low gear?
Sunny day
Stop and go traffic
Going down hill
While most cars these days use an automatic transmission, many still come with extra gears beyond the standard drive, reverse and neutral and park. Switching to low gear might be helpful if you are driving down a steep hill, or even driving slowly on an icy road where braking could cause you to slide.
Traveling on the highway

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Yikes! What do you need to do if your car is squealing when you turn the steering wheel?
Add power steering fluid
That terrible screech when you turn your steering wheel often occurs when power steering fluid is low. Other culprits include dirt and debris in the lines or a failing pump in the steering system.
Adjust tire pressure
Buy a new steering wheel
Trade in your car

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What is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of dying in a car accident?
Take driver's ed
Buy a big car
Check safety ratings
Wear your seatbelt
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a staggering 50 percent of victims who died in car accidents in 2016 weren't buckled up. When you consider that around 90 percent of all drivers and passengers nationwide do wear a seat belt, you kind of have to wonder what the other 10 percent are thinking leaving that belt unbuckled.

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How many miles are most tires designed to last?
5,000
10,000
25,000
Wearing down the tread on your tires can leave you vulnerable to an accident. While most tires are designed to last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, you should check your wheels periodically to ensure your treads still measure at least 4/32" of an inch or more.
50,000

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