Automobiles are wheeled vehicles that use a motor embedded in the vehicle itself to move. It is called an automobile because it moves on its own without needing any external motivating power (like a horse). The word auto means “of itself” and the root of the term is Latin for “move” (“auto” = self, and Latin “mobilis” means moving). There are many different automobiles on the market today and they are used for a variety of purposes.
Modern automobiles are complex technical systems that have thousands of individual parts. Each has its own design function and interacts with other components. There are some basic systems that are common to all automobiles. These are the engine, cooling and lubrication system, electrical system, suspension, and wheels and tires. There are also other systems that differ according to the type of automobile. For example, a sports car built for high speeds requires a powerful engine, more fuel, and a more sophisticated suspension system to respond quickly and comfortably to road conditions.
The first automobiles were developed in the late 19th century from horse-drawn carriages with engines added to them. During the last century, they have evolved into the sophisticated systems that have revolutionized modern life. Their use affects every aspect of society, from urban planning and public service (police, fire, medical, utility, etc.) to personal uses such as vacation travel, dining, shopping, and work commutes. They have brought people closer together and allowed businesses to employ new techniques for production of goods and services that can be delivered throughout the world at very low cost.
An automobile’s engine, which is the heart of the vehicle, uses a special fuel to produce power to move the wheels. This fuel is burned inside a cylinder and the explosion of that gas creates friction which turns the wheels. Automobiles usually have multiple gears, each providing a different ratio of the number of crankshaft revolutions per minute to the amount of output power directed to the wheels. Most vehicles have a brake that stops the automobile when it is stopped or rolling in a parking lot. The brakes are usually a friction system, but some cars have regenerative brakes that convert the energy from the vehicle’s movement back into electricity.
The body of the automobile is made from steel or aluminum, although some cars have bodies made from fiberglass and plastics. The interior of the automobile includes seats, instrumentation, and controls. Many vehicles have a radio and stereo, and some even have air conditioning. A few have a GPS to help drivers find their way around unfamiliar areas. Some automobiles have removable roofs, allowing the driver to enjoy open-air driving on sunny days. There are even automobiles that can be converted into vans, SUVs, or buses for carrying larger groups of passengers. The modern automobile has become a symbol of the freedom and flexibility that people enjoy in their lives. Without it, our lifestyles would be much more restricted and our schedules much more dependent on the availability of public transportation.