Speaking Like a Mechanic: Car Parts 101
It’s likely that you will never need to know the ins-and-outs of your vehicle. In the instance that you need to fix your car or buy a high-quality replacement part from our team here at Reitman, it’s helpful to know some basic vocabulary regarding your car and the various parts that shape it. To help you along the way, we’ve put together a quick guide for the basic parts and pieces you would need to know.
Your Vehicle Identification Number
The best place to start any conversation about your car’s parts are with its vehicle identification number, or VIN. Even more than the car’s make or model, which are also important, your VIN actually incorporates a level of detail and code that identifies certain features and elements of your car. Your VIN will be on most of your car’s paperwork, and you can also look up where to find your VIN on your specific car.
Directions: Left or right?
When you sell or buy a used auto part from Reitman, we have a few questions to help us better understand exactly how we can help. One of the basics is knowing the orientation of the car so we can be sure we’re all discussing the same part on the same side of the vehicle.
When you are identifying a car part, left and right sides are often confused. The sides and orientation of the car are always discussed as if you are standing behind the car looking towards the front. These directions are consistent with the left and right orientation as a passenger in the car: the left is on the driver’s side of the vehicle (in the United States, at least!) and the right is on the passenger side of the car.
VIPs (Very Important Parts)
There are a few car parts that are, for the most part, universal to all cars. There are certainly variations and features that change from car to car, but in terms of identifying the parts of your car, a few key parts will get you a long way.
Most drivers on the road are familiar with the essentials: wheels, side mirrors, tail lights, and doors. Moving beyond those key words is where confusion can happen. Here are several of the most popular items that we buy and sell at Reitman and a quick-reference guide to what each of those parts does for your car:
- Alternator: generates energy to charge your battery and power your vehicle once it’s turned on.
- Transmission: helps ensure that the right amount of power goes to your car’s gears at the right time. A manual transmission shifts power when you tell it to, but an automatic transmission does this automatically.
- Engine: Traditional gas-powered cars rely on the engine to convert gasoline into motion.
- Bumpers: Located on the front and back of your vehicle, bumpers are designed to absorb impact.
- Fenders: The fender is the metal body panel over the front wheel.
- Quarter Panel: Is the rear section of the body over rear wheel and is welded or bonded to the vehicle.
- Grilles: A grid-like feature on the front of the vehicle that protects the radiator and engine.
- Headlamps or Headlights: The lights on the front of your vehicle that are your primary headlights.
- Tail lamps: Tail lamps are your brake lights as well as your signal lights, which are both very important for safety.
- Fog lamps: Located on the front your car, these lights provide extra illumination in bad weather. They are different than headlights.
If you can master these basic auto parts, you can begin a conversation with any mechanic! Give us a call if you have a question about the part you need for your car repair. We have a fully updated and sorted inventory of thousands of car parts, and we can search for your part in minutes!
We have more than 2000 cars and trucks on site, and we offer high value for used, wrecked, or rebuildable late-model foreign and domestic cars, trucks, and vans from model year 2005 and up. For more information, or to find an automotive part, visit us online or call 859- 635-2127 (locally in Northern Kentucky) or 800-221-3993 nationwide.