Understanding How Your Car Works Will Make You a Better Driver

For most of us driving is a pleasure and an art form and it’s very often about the feel and handling of the car and the road. Most of us automotive fans feel that we know a lot about driving and it’s probably warranted, but everybody can stand to learn more and to become even better at it.

One of the things that could improve your driving significantly is learning more about how your car and cars in general work. Cars are everyday marvels of engineering and knowing more about what goes on on the inside can make your driving smoother, safer, more efficient and faster if you needed it to be because you will have a better understanding of what your car has to offer and how to take advantage of it.

Understanding Your Engine

There are many different types of engines and understanding how the engine you have under the hood works will help you utilize it more efficiently. Most of us still have internal combustion engines, but some might already be driving hybrids or electric cars. Knowing what you are relying on to produce power will help you make better decisions when driving.

Each engine type comes with its advantages and disadvantages, and a driver is better off knowing as much as possible about the one they are using at the moment. Petrol and diesel engines can handle very differently and different configurations can make huge differences in the way a car handles and reacts to your input. For instance, turbo chargers have turbo lag which is a phenomenon that might put you in a dangerous situation if you try to accelerate while you are still inside a corner, so knowing that it could happen could prevent you from flooring it too early and avoiding being in a very dangerous situation.

Understanding Your Gearbox

There are many types of gearboxes out there and knowing how they work the driver to get the optimal performance out of the machine. Each type of gearbox has its dos and don'ts and knowing how they will allow you to avoid common mistakes, to prevent failures and to drive much more smoothly, efficiently or quickly depending on the situation and your personal desire at the moment.

For instance, if you have a dual-clutch transmission and you know how it operates, you will know that touching the brake just before you shift the gear up will lead to a much slower gearshift. This is because the gearbox will try to anticipate what gear you are likely to select next and will have the lower gear ready because of the breaking instead of the upper one so changing to the desired gear will take longer than usual.

Understanding Traction and Suspension

While your engine and gearbox are the most important internal aspect of producing and transferring power and momentum inside your vehicle, they need to be transferred to the road and get transformed into movement. This means that your suspension, tires, and aerodynamics will play a very important role in the way your car handles. There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account when evaluating the safety of a particular maneuver at a particular speed and weather conditions, so knowing as much of the theory as possible will help you understand what your car can and cannot do and how to ensure safety for you and your passengers.

A friend of mine who was interested in engineering went out of his way to find science tuition, and after he had studied a lot about physics, aerodynamics, and mathematics, he shared that he felt like a better driver because he could evaluate risk better. He knew what the factors that can affect traction and stability are, he knew about how the suspension of the car worked and what it could handle, and he knew exactly how a wet or a snowy road could affect things like braking distance and cornering. Being armed with knowledge allowed him to evaluate practical driving situations more quickly and accurately.

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