Another German engineer, Gottlieb Daimler, was also working on a car, with an improved version of the internal-combustion engine, in 1885.
By 1894, motor vehicles were common enough that the first Grand Prix race could be held. However, this auspicious event was soon followed by a tragic one: in 1896, the first traffic death occurred when Bridget Driscoll, a mother of two, was killed by a car when she stepped into the street. Upon her death, the coroner stated, "I trust that this sort of nonsense will never happen again."
By 1930, most of the technologies still used in cars today had been invented, including the electric ignition, multi-valve engines, steering wheels, four-wheel drive, drum brakes, and transmission systems.
American manufacturers dominated the automobile industry until the 1970s, when they began to be challenged by the growing sales of Japanese and German cars. Today, while China has become the world's leading producer of automobiles, American manufacturers remain on the cutting edge of automotive innovation.
Your electrical system must be properly maintained. Without electricity, none of vehicle devices controlled by a computer, including power steering, antilock brakes, and stability controls, will work. Moreover, if you get into a collision, your air bag will fail to deploy and you won't even be able to open your electric windows or door locks.
The alternator or serpentine belt must be replaced if cracked, soaked or glazed in oil, badly worn, or otherwise damaged. The tension of the belt should be adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer's guidelines.
Keep the battery connections clean, particularly around the area where the cables connect to the positive and negative poles. Fall is generally considered the best time of year to have battery terminals checked.
During your weekly assessment of your car's condition, you should perform any maintenance checks that don't require looking under the hood. Every week, you should:
Check your headlights, taillights, turn signals, and emergency lights, as well as the warning lights on your dashboard.
Make sure your emergency kit has all the essentials, including a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, basic tools, and water. Test the flashlight in your kit to make sure the batteries are still good.
Check the performance of your windshield wipers and your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Make sure your seat belts and latches are working and in good condition.
In addition to the safety inspection, drivers in many Texas counties are required to have an emissions test performed annually.
Gasoline-powered vehicles that are between 2 and 24 years old must receive an emissions test in the following counties: Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Johnson, Kaufman, Montgomery, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson.
Find out more about safety inspection and emissions test requirements on the Texas DPS website.