Don’t Know your Crankshaft from your Jacking Points? Read our Expert’s Jargon-Buster (Part 2)
by Ed Scott
Ever taken your car to a mechanic and been completely dumbfounded by the diagnosis?
You know the drill, your car gets the once over and following a sharp intake of breath and a shake of the head, the mechanic says something about it being in a “sorry state” before handing you an eye-watering repair bill and a crushing feeling of inadequacy.
So if you don’t talk the torque, this one’s for you…
ABS stands for Anti-Lock Braking System and is a pretty standard safety feature on modern cars that stops the wheels from locking so you don’t skid when braking. It does this by rapidly pumping your car’s brakes to help you stay in control of the steering, even if you’ve slammed on the anchors.
If your mechanic ever tells you you have a problem with your big end, don’t take it personally – the big end is a bearing that mounts the connecting rod (which is connected to the piston) to the crankshaft (more on that later). There is also a small end that sits at the piston end.
We all know what the brakes do, but in order to do their job properly there are three distinct parts that go to work:
- Brake calliper – when you apply the brakes this squeezes the brake disc to slow the rotation of the wheels and, in turn, the car.
- Brake disc – these rotating metal discs are fitted to each wheel and squeezed against them by the brake callipers to slow down and stop the car.
- Brake pad – these are the part of the brake calliper that touches the brake discs when slowing down. They run smoothly against the metal disc but because of the constant friction involved they eventually wear down and need replacing.
- Drum brakes – if you have an older car it could have drum brakes fitted, these work by pushing a rotating metal arm against a metal drum attached to the wheel.
Anyone who has ever bought second-hand will have heard of the cam belt but might not necessarily know what it does or even where it is – basically, it’s just a rubber belt that drives the moving parts in the top of the engine.
Sometimes known as the timing belt, the cam belt will have to be replaced once a certain number of miles have been covered and it’s important you stick to its replacement schedule – if it breaks it can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to the engine. Some engines have cam chains instead of cam belts, and these don’t need replacing.
This is a vital part of every engine as it blends together air and fuel to create the gas on which the car runs – if this ever blows, just give the mechanic a knowing nod before getting your wallet out.
These are fitted as part of the car’s exhaust to help reduce harmful emissions by turning much of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into less harmful gases or even water vapour. Catalytic converters have been compulsory on all petrol engines since 1993 and the good news is they are generally reliable and usually last well. The bad news is if they do fail, they’re expensive to replace.
Again, if your mechanic mentions ‘crankshaft’ don’t take it as a personal insult. This is the engine part that converts the force created by the engine’s pistons moving up and down into a force that moves the wheels in a circular motion so the car can go forward. In short, it’s the bit that helps the engine move the wheels.
Car engines get hot and so most have a big circular fan fitted to help cool down – this fan only kicks in when the car reaches a certain temperature and the fan belt is what keeps it spinning.
These belts can stretch and even fall off and if you hear a squealing noise when you start your car this is a good indication the fan belt needs adjusting or replacing – thankfully it’s a pretty quick job for a mechanic.
Speak to any petrol head about their motor and it won’t be long before they’re talking high speeds and brake horsepower (bhp) – but what is horsepower? In short, it’s a unit of measure to tell you how powerful an engine is by working out how much power an engine can produce against the load – with one horse being able to do 30,000 foot-pounds of work in one minute.
So the greater a car’s horsepower, the higher its performance will be – to put some context on that a 2010 2.0l Ford Focus Zetec has 126 bhp, while a 2010 2.5l Ford Focus ST has 221 bhp.Con
That’s part one of our jargon-buster done and dusted, check back in a couple of weeks for part two, and if you’ve anything you think we may have missed, let us know in the comments…
If your car is causing you too much trouble and costing more money in repair bills, it could be time to sell. Get your free car valuation from our valuation calculator to see how much you could get at resale.
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