What Are The Main Parts Of a Vehicle?

To drive your car and get the most out of it, you need to understand what makes it tick. With most cars having over 30,000 parts, it’s impossible to understand what every part does to make your car move. However, understanding the main parts of a vehicle can be very helpful. 

Why It's Important To Know A Car’s Basic Components

Without knowing how a vehicle works on a basic level, you can’t fully understand or appreciate how it does what it does. When you understand your car, you can understand what every noise and rumble can mean. Knowing what your engine does and how your brakes work can help you diagnose problems and make the job of mechanics much easier. Let’s look at some of the main parts of a car and see what each one of them does. 

What Are The Main Parts Of A Car And Their Functions?


Acting as the heart of every vehicle, the engine is what provides power to the wheels to make the car move. Without an engine, vehicles would simply by metal carriages. An engine uses gasoline and a spark to cause a controlled explosion inside of a cylinder to produce power. 

This power from the explosion is then used alongside several other controlled explosions in alternating cylinders to turn the crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, those individual explosions in the cylinders work together to move the crankshaft and powers the car enough to start moving the wheels.


The transmission is what connects the engine to the wheels and allows for the power to be more efficiently transferred from the engine. A transmission contains a set of gears that are either shifted manually by the operator or automatically by a transmission computer. 

A transmission is needed so that the power of the engine is sent to the wheels effectively. Without a transmission, the engine would be sending all of its power to the wheels and would just cause the vehicle to spin. 


While getting a vehicle moving is great, being able to make it stop is just as important. Brakes on a car use specially designed materials to slow down metal discs connected to the wheels that bring the vehicle to a stop. When you push the brake pedal, the vehicle’s brakes grab onto a brake disk until the friction created is enough to stop the motion. 


The chassis of a vehicle is essentially the skeleton of the vehicle. The chassis is where most of the vehicle’s structural integrity comes from as the chassis holds all the other pieces of the vehicle together. From the engine to the exhaust system, the majority of a vehicle’s components are directly attached to the chassis where they create fewer vibrations and have increased strength. The chassis is also designed to brace and resist damage as the result of an accident. 

Axle and Differential 

The axles of a vehicle are what sends the power from the transmission to the two sets of wheels in a vehicle. As the spinning driveshaft goes backward through the vehicle, the two axles convert that energy to the left and right wheels so that they can have the power to move. 

Attached to the axels is something called a differential which allows the wheels on each side of the car to spin at different speeds as needed. The axles and differentials allow vehicles the ability to move wheels at different speeds so you can turn smoothly and get unstuck easier. 


Without the battery, your vehicle is going nowhere. The battery provides power to everything from the motor that starts to engine to the air conditioning that keeps you comfortable. A car battery is responsible for powering every electrical system in the vehicle and is essential to the vehicle’s full functionality. 

When you drive and the battery has gotten the car moving, something called an alternator is used to keep power going throughout the car without draining the battery. If you didn’t have an alternator, you would have to plug your car battery in every time you drive to fill it back up. 

Tips To Keep Your Vehicle’s Parts Running At Peak Performance 

Regular Maintenance 

The absolute best way to make sure your vehicle is always running at its peak performance is to ensure that it is getting regular maintenance. When you take your car to a mechanic, it is like going to see the doctor for your annual checkup. 

They can plug specialized tools into the car to ensure everything is running and they can look at all the essential components above to make sure they are in working order. If you don’t go to the mechanic’s regularly, who knows what could be wrong with your vehicle. 

Proper Driving 

No matter how good your mechanic is, there is no cure for bad driving. The way you drive has a substantial effect on how long and how well your vehicle parts hold up. Especially for things like your tires and engine, driving responsibly and within the limits of the vehicle will help every component reach their specific duration. 

Making sure that you aren’t speeding, braking smoothly, and practicing good driving habits will all help to keep your vehicle healthy. The best way to keep your vehicle running well is to respect what it can do and drive within your limits. 

Understanding Your Car

As you have come to learn with this guide, a car is more a living organism than it is a machine. The beating engine sends its energy to each wheel with every car having a distinctive driving personality. If you understand the vehicle you are driving, you will know what every noise and hum means.

Knowing how long it takes you to come to a full stop and having an idea of how fast you can get up to highway speeds will allow you and your car to work together as a team. When you take the time to understand your car, you become a much better driver.