Automobile or Related Car Terms

(scientific terms about the use of vehicles including cars, trucks, or any automobiles including their technology as related to transportation)

potential energy
Most physical systems contain stored, or potential, energy that can be turned into other kinds of useful energy at a later time.

A car at the top of a hill has potential energy because of its position. It can turn its potential energy into kinetic energy by going down the slope.

Converting energy from one form (fuel) into another form (movement).
1. A measure of the force exerted on a surface.
2. The force exerted by something pressing or squeezing an area.

The tires on a car are under pressure because air, forced into them, pushes against their rubber walls.

revolutions per minute, rpm
The number of times a wheel rotates in one minute.
seatbelt, seat belt, safety belt
A restraining belt attached to a vehicle seat which is fastened around passengers and which is intended to keep a person in place in order to avoid injuries in accidents where the occupant could be thrown against a solid object.

A seat belt improves a passenger's chance of surviving a crash by 50 to 75 percent, mainly by preventing inertia from throwing the person through the windshield. It also spreads the force of an impact over a larger area of the body, making injuries less severe.

A seat belt also stretches which slows the passenger down with less velocity so the body feels less force.

shock absorber
A piston that moves in a cylinder filled with oil or gas which can absorb the bumps in a road.

Shock absorbers are part of a car's suspension system.

A measurement of how fast a car is going.

A car's speed can be determined by dividing the distance it travels by the time it takes to get to a destination.

steam engine
An engine fueled by coal or oil that heats water to make steam.

The steam pushes pistons back and forth to drive one or more wheels.

streamlining, stream lining
The smooth, usually curved shape of a vehicle designed to reduce drag and to improve performance.
A series of components attached to the wheels of a car to make the ride feel smoother for passengers by reducing the effects of vertical motion as the wheels go over bumps.

The suspension includes tires, springs, and shock absorbers.

tire structures and features
A tire is a flexible container of compressed air which supports the vehicle's load; propels a vehicle forward, backward and side-to-side, stops the vehicle, and cushions the load from road irregularities.

    Different parts of tire tread work as a team to keep the car on the road.

  1. Blocks in the middle of the tire form the tire's gripping surface or traction.
  2. Ribs, which are next to the blocks, also form the tire's gripping features consisting of straight-lined rows of blocks that create a circumferential contact "band".
  3. Sipes make the tire bend more to improve handling and consist of slit-like grooves in the tread blocks that allow the blocks to move with added flexibility, and increases traction by creating an additional biting edge.

    Sipes are especially helpful on ice, light snow, and loose dirt.

  4. Shoulders add grip when the car is cornering.

    They provide continuous contact with the road while maneuvering as they wrap slightly over the inner and outer sidewall of a tire.

  5. Grooves are the drains which the tire squeezes water along as it presses the road and pushes it out to the side.

    A low void ratio groove means more rubber is in contact with the road while a high void ratio increases the ability to drain water.

    Whether a tire has a high or low void ratio depends on the tire's intended use.

  6. Dimples are little depressions that are part of the shoulder.

    Such indentations in the tread improve cooling.

  7. Belt, the reinforcement layer extending around the outer circumference of the carcass under the tread.

    It acts like an iron hoop in improving the stiffness of the tread area. In the case of truck and bus tires, the belt is more heavily reinforced compared to passenger car tires.

  8. Tread is that part of a tire which contacts the road surface.

    The tread consists of a layer of rubber, compounded to suit the application purpose of the tire, and the thickness serves to protect the belt and carcass.

    The tread pattern functions to improve water drainage, providing traction, braking, and cornering characteristics; as well as, a longer tread life.

Automobile tire surface structure or tire tread.
tire, tires
A hollow band of rubber, often reinforced with fibers of other material, fitted around the outer edge of a vehicle's wheel and filled with compressed air.

Tires are the primary means of pushing a car along by applying the force of friction. To give the car maximum push, tires must grip the surface of streets and highways with the powerful force of "static friction".

As well as maximizing static friction, tires must minimize another kind of friction, called rolling resistance. Rolling resistance happens because tires are repeatedly squeezed underneath where the wheels press on them and stretched at the top when wheels release them.

All that stretching and squeezing wastes energy which could be used to go forward.

Measure of how much force is needed to make an object rotate around an axis.

Car engines with high torque can produce a great deal of force to make a car go quickly.

Ridged patterns in car tires that help to increase friction and grip on the road.
The disrupted air pattern produced by a car body that is not properly streamlined.

The more turbulence a car produces, the harder it has to work to move though the air, the slower it goes, and the more energy it wastes.

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