Key Concepts:

Terms in this set (45)

The purpose of brakes is to allow the driver to slow down or stop the vehicle, upon pressing down on the brake pedal. The brakes must be in top working condition, so that in an emergency the driver is able to stop completely without incident. The brake pads need to be maintained by repairing or replacing them since they get the most wear.

There are two independent braking systems in your vehicle:
Service brakes are used to slow your vehicle while you are driving.
Parking brake (also referred to as the emergency brake) can also be used to slow your vehicle in an emergency, but is mainly used to hold your vehicle in one place while stopped or parked.

When you press your brake pedal, a piston in your master cylinder forces brake fluid through hydraulic lines to pistons in the wheel cylinders at the wheels.

There are two types of brakes:
Drum brakes slow your vehicle by the friction of a brake shoe pushing against the drum that is rotating with the wheel.
Disk brakes slow your car by the friction of a caliper pressing against a disc that is rotating with the wheel.

Both drum and disk brakes convert friction force to heat and if the brakes get too hot, they cease to work because they cannot dissipate enough heat. For both types of brakes, your stopping distance time is roughly proportional to the square of your speed, so if you double your speed you quadruple the distance to stop your car.

When you are stopped and apply your brakes, they lock. It is the friction force between the tires and the road that keeps you from moving. Brakes will only slow your car while there is friction between the moving parts of your brakes.
If the wheels are locked, as in the case of a skid, the drums or discs are not moving and there will be no friction.

The purpose of antilock brake systems is to prevent the brakes from becoming locked by first sensing if they are locked and then automatically and rapidly releasing and applying pressure.
If you do not have antilock brakes, you can avoid having your brakes lock by manually and rapidly releasing and then reapplying pressure to your brake pedal.

The parking brake uses a cable rather than a hydraulic system to engage your brakes or clamp down on your drive shaft and will therefore function even if your service brakes have failed.
The charging system is what provides the electrical current for your vehicle. Without a charging system, your battery will be depleted and your vehicle will shut down. The charging system gauge or warning lamp monitors the health of this system so that you have a warning of a problem before you get stuck.

There are two types of gauges used to monitor charging systems:

It measures system voltage. A modern automobile has a 12-volt electrical system. A fully charged battery will read about 12.5 volts when the engine is not running. When the engine is running, the charging system takes over so that the voltmeter will read 14 to 14.5 volts and should stay there unless there is a heavy load on the electrical system such as wipers, lights, heater and rear defogger all operating together while the engine is idling at which time the voltage may drop. If the voltage drops below 12.5, it means that the battery is providing some of the current. You may notice that your dash lights dim at this point. If this happens for an extended period, the battery will run down and may not have enough of a charge to start the car after shutting it off. This should never happen with a healthy charging system because as soon as you step on the gas, the charging system will recharge the battery. If the voltage is constantly below 14 volts, you should have the system checked. If the voltage ever goes above 15 volts, there is a problem with the voltage regulator. Have the system checked as soon as possible as this "overcharging" condition can cause damage to your electrical system.

It measures amperage. If the battery is fully charged and there is minimal electrical demand, then the ammeter should read close to zero, but should always be on the positive side of zero. It is normal for the ammeter to read high positive amperage in order to recharge the battery after starting, but it should taper off in a few minutes. If it continues to read more than 10 or 20 amps even though the lights, wipers and other electrical devices are turned off, you may have a weak battery and should have it checked.
The windshield provides the driver's direct view of traffic and road conditions in front of the vehicle. The driver is positioned in the driver's seat to look out through the windshield. You must keep your windows clear , and without cracks. You are required by law to have a windshield in place, free of obstructions and without need of repair. If you have a crack or lines in the windshield glass you need to repair it immediately.

Windshields protect the vehicle's occupants from wind, temperature extremes, and flying debris such as dust, insects, and rocks. Properly installed automobile windshields are also essential to safety. UV Coating may be applied to screen out harmful ultraviolet light.

Modern windshields are generally made of laminated safety glass that consists of two curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them for safety and are glued into the window frame. This glued-in screen contributes to the vehicle's rigidity.

In many places, laws restrict the use of heavily tinted glass in vehicle windshields. Generally, laws specify the maximum level of tint permitted. Note that there is noticeably more tint in the uppermost part of the windshield to help block glare from the sun.

Today's windshields are a safety device just like seat belts and air bags. The installation of the auto glass is done with an automotive grade urethane designed specifically for automobiles. The adhesive creates a molecular bond between the glass and the vehicle. If the adhesive bond fails at any point on the glass it can reduce the effectiveness of the air bag and substantially compromise the structural integrity of the roof.
Unrestrained occupants of a car keep moving during the time the car takes to stop due to inertia. They will still be moving forward at their original speed when they slam into the steering wheel, windshield or other part of the car. This force is equivalent to that of hitting the ground when falling from a three-story building. When hit from behind, inertia causes a person's neck to bend backwards, which can result in whiplash.

You may not operate your vehicle on public roads or on private property, such as parking lots, unless you and all of your passengers eight years of age or older or who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller, are wearing seatbelts.

Children younger than eight years old or who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall are seated in a federally approved child passenger restraint system.

You and your passengers must wear seat belts while your vehicle is moving on public roads and on private property, such as parking lots.

If seat belts are not worn by any of your passengers, you and the passenger(s) can be cited. If the passenger is younger than 16 years of age, you will be cited if he or she is not wearing his or her seat belt.

Always use your seat belts (including the shoulder harness) even if the vehicle is equipped with air bags. You can have shoulder harnesses or seat belts installed in older vehicles. Even if you wear only a lap belt when driving, your chances of living through a collision are twice as high as someone who does not wear a lap belt. If you wear a lap and shoulder belt, your chances are three to four times higher to live through a collision.

Pregnant women should wear the lap belt as low as possible under the abdomen, and the shoulder strap should be placed between the breasts and to the side of the abdomen's bulge.

Using seatbelts reduces the risk of being thrown from your vehicle in a collision. If you do not install and use a shoulder harness with the seat (lap) belt, serious or fatal injuries may happen in some crashes. Lap-only belts increase the chance of spinal column and abdominal injuries—especially in children. Shoulder harnesses may be available for your vehicle, if it is not already equipped with them.
If you buy a new rather than used car, your costs for financing, depreciation, registration and insurance will be higher but your maintenance costs will probably be lower. The dependability of the vehicle will probably be better and the crash worthiness and fuel efficiency may be better.

If buying a used car, it is wise to have the vehicle inspected for mechanical condition prior to purchase.

When purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, the dealer submits fees, use tax and other documents to register the vehicle with the DMV.
If you finance a car, the interest you pay on the money you have borrowed may be significant.
You may be required to pay for insurance that you would not have otherwise chosen and if you fail to make payments the car can be repossessed and your credit history may be negatively affected.

When purchasing from a private party, the seller provides a bill of sale, smog certification and an endorsed Certificate of Title. The seller also submits a Notice of Release of Liability to the DMV within 5 days. The buyer pays the use tax and is responsible for registering vehicle with the DMV within 10 days.

When considering the purchase of a used vehicle, it is important that you know what the mechanical condition of the vehicle is. A simple test drive or a simple look under the hood cannot do this. You must take the vehicle to a qualified and trusted mechanic. Preferably use a mechanic who you know very well and have had great experiences with. They will be able to get into the vehicle and check its entire engine and electrical system. If the mechanic gives the vehicle a "clean bill of health" then you can make an educated decision of whether to purchase the vehicle