Skip to content

Classifying Cars

Written by



Cars are the main means of transportation for hundreds of millions of people around the world. They have changed the way we live more than any other invention in history. Cars allow people to travel farther and more quickly than ever before. They help farmers take their products to market, workers get to jobs and families find better schools and places to live.

Cars come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. They can be tall and boxy or low and sleek, with two doors or four or more. Often the first thing people notice about a vehicle is its shape. This is called its body style and is the easiest way to classify cars.

Most modern cars are powered by an internal combustion engine. Fuel, usually gasoline (or diesel or kerosene), is burned to create gases that expand. These gases push a piston down, which turns the wheels of the car to make it move. The engine can run on any type of fuel, but gasoline is the most common.

To stop or slow a car the brakes use friction to press against drums or discs, which in turn move the wheels back and forth to make the car stop or go slower. The tires are designed to grip the road, so they can roll smoothly and safely. The suspension system supports the weight of the car by using springs, axles and wheels.

Modern cars are made of steel, aluminum, plastic and other materials. They also have electronic systems for controlling and monitoring the vehicle’s functions. Cars have fuses and circuit breakers to protect against electrical overload. They are equipped with air conditioning, heaters and power steering and brakes to make driving easier.

Before the development of the internal combustion engine, some vehicles were pulled by horses or powered by water. Karl Benz invented the modern car with a gas-powered engine in 1886. He called it the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. It was an improvement on earlier steam-powered carriages, but it didn’t become a practical everyday mode of transportation until the 1930s.

Since then, many improvements have been made to engines, transmissions and safety features. New types of fuel have been developed, and engines that run on electricity are available as well. The cost of oil has increased, and manufacturers are working to develop smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Choosing whether to buy or lease a vehicle depends on an assessment of your finances and driving habits. Use a lease-versus-buy calculator to see what is the best financial decision for you. Also, check out the ratings on various cars to see which ones meet your needs and budget. Then start shopping! Buying a car can be exciting and rewarding.

Previous article

Consumer Reports' 10 Best Cars of 2010

Next article

What Makes Luxury Cars Unique?