Beginners Guide to Automotive Terms

Have you ever left the auto parts store or the mechanic’s garage and had no clue what parts you just bought or what services your car needs? The feeling is more common than you’d think.

A lot of people like to think they know all about cars, but their knowledge is actually pretty limited. You don’t have to be an expert to know if you’re getting ripped off at the garage. Even if you aren’t a shade tree mechanic, it would be helpful to know some key terms that your auto mechanic may use.

Tune Tech auto repair in Spokane, WA believes that educating our customers about their cars is just as important as fixing their automotive problems. We want to be your trusted friend in the automotive business, so we’ll do anything we can to make taking care of your car a little bit easier!

We believe it’s very important for car owners to have a basic understanding of how their car works, including the basic parts. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of some common car terms that you may hear next time you visit our shop.

  • Alternator – The alternator is what gives electrical power to the car’s electric systems. It also charges your car’s battery while the engine is on. If it goes bad, you will not be able to start the car. Replacing the alternator is quick and fairly inexpensive.


  • Drive Belt – Your car may have one, two or three belts that run through the engine and power the water pump, alternator, and other engine accessories. It can wear over time, but replacing it is not very expensive.


  • Intake Manifold – The intake manifold is responsible for regulating the air flow between cylinders. This part of your car rarely needs to be replaced; however, it may need to be tuned up every now and then to prevent vacuum and coolant leaks.


  • Mass Air Flow Sensor – This sensor assists with electronic fuel injection systems. Problems with it can cause your check engine light to come on, and many issues are remedied by simply cleaning the sensor.


  • Timing Belt, Timing Chain or Timing Gears – Depending on the type of vehicle you have, you will only have one of these. This is the mechanism that runs your camshaft and regulates the movement of the valve train. Timing components should be replaced on a regular basis to prevent major damage.


  • Wheel Bearing – This is the part of the wheel that allows it to spin without resistance. Sometimes, you may hear a rumbling or humming sound when the wheel bearing is going bad. They are serviceable on some cars and trucks, while others will need to be replaced.

This is only a small sampling of the terms Tune Tech mechanics may use when working on your car, but this list will give you an idea of how some other things work within your car’s engine, tires, and exhaust system.

No question is too simple when it concerns the performance of your vehicle! Call us today with ANY question, and we’ll gladly answer it!


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