The modern car, a complex machine that contains numerous technological systems, is the engineering sum of all its parts. The following car parts are common to all cars, regardless of when they were made.
All cars are powered by an engine, which generally takes up a large amount of its mechanical complexity and expense. Engines run on a variety of fuel types, the most common types being gasoline and diesel fuel.
In the case of hybrid electric cars, which are growing in popularity, an electric motor acts as the engine which powers the drivetrain. The drivetrain contains the transmission, which links the engine to the drive shaft and to the wheels. Within the transmission, gears are selected to transmit the proper amount of power depending on the vehicle's speed and other conditions.
The frame of the car is basically a rigid metal cage on which all other components are attached. Automakers often design a universal frame which can be used for several car models, this way, they can maximize its use and cut down on the number of frames, or platforms, that must be designed. The car's engine as well its body is mounted to the frame. Suspension components, such as springs, struts, shocks and rocker arms, are part of the linkage between the frame, body and wheels.
A car's body which is built around the frame, gives the car its characteristic shape and serves as a container for the interior cabin. Bodies can be made from a number of materials, including steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass and plastic. Car bodies are usually composed of a series of panels, each of which can be replaced individually. Most car bodies are designed to be aerodynamic in order to improve handling, performance and fuel efficiency.
The wheels of a car serve as the point of connection between the car and the road. Most cars come with standard wheels that are made of steel and covered with alloy or plastic wheel covers.
A car's interior contains all of the controls a driver needs as well as seating and storage areas. The controls may vary from car to car, but in general the standard components consist of a speedometer, fuel gauge and engine temperature meter. Additional gauges may include an oil pressure gauge, a tachometer (which displays the engine's workload in revolutions per minute) and an ammeter for monitoring the car's electrical system. Some of the more modern cars also include entertainment and navigation systems.