English is spoken in more than 70 countries around the world.
Simply land in your English-speaking country of choice and choose from one of many car rental companies at the airport and go adventuring!
But what happens if something goes wrong and you need help?
Check out this ultimate guide to car parts in English, and you’ll be cruising confidently on the open road in no time.
- Exterior (Outside) of the Car
- Interior (Inside) of the Car
- 5 Common Issues with Cars and Their Solutions in English
- How to Practice Car Parts in English
Exterior (Outside) of the Car
These are the lights at the front of the car that let you see where you’re going. There are two of them; one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger’s side.
When most cars are started, the running lights (low brightness safety lights on the front of the car) are automatically turned on. Headlights can be turned on at night or when it’s a little dark out, such as during a storm.
These are the lights at the back of the car that let drivers behind you know when you’re braking (stopping). There are also two of these; one on each side of the car.
3. Signal lights
These are the lights at the front and back of the car that let drivers know which way you’re going to turn. There are two sets; one on the right side for turning right, and one on the left side for turning left.
4. Emergency lights
These lights use the same light bulbs as the signal lights. In an emergency (when something bad suddenly happens), the emergency lights can be switched on to let other drivers know there’s a problem and to give you space.
This is a piece of metal that goes across the whole front of the car. It’s there to minimize (lessen) damage if the car hits something head-on.
6. Exhaust pipe
This is where exhaust (burned fuel) from the engine exits the car while it’s running.
7. Side mirrors
These are small mirrors on either side of the car beside the front windows that allow the driver to better see around the car while driving.
8. Rearview mirror
This is the mirror at the top of the windshield (see definition below) that allows the driver to see behind them while driving without having to turn and look back.
This is the giant pane of glass at the front of the car.
10. Windshield wipers
These are the blades that remove water from or clean dirt off the windshield. They can be turned on when it’s raining, or they can be used with windshield wiper fluid (liquid that can be bought to clean the windshield).
This is the central part of the car. An engine is a machine with multiple parts that makes the car work.
This is the compartment (the closed space) in the back of the car that can be used for storage. Sometimes a spare (extra) tire can be found here. In many parts of the world, the trunk is also called the boot or the bonnet.
This is the front of the car where the engine and other car machinery can be found. There’s a lever (a rod) in the car to lift the hood (open the hood of the car) to allow access to what’s underneath.
This is the area around the car’s wheels that keeps it protected and from getting debris (garbage, rocks or rubble) inside the wheel well. This is sometimes called the mudguard.
Not all cars have a sunroof. This is a small window on the roof of the car that allows the driver and passengers to look up at the sky or let the sunshine in.
These are the outer shells of the wheel, often placed over the bolts that hold the wheels to the car. Not all cars have them, and they can be very decorative. These are sometimes called hubcaps.
17. Fuel tank
This is the place where the gasoline goes. There’s a small hatch (door) on the side of the car that leads to where you put the nozzle in to fill the car with gas.
Interior (Inside) of the Car
18. Steering wheel
This is the part in front of the driver’s seat that allows the driver to control the direction of the car.
This is the object that powers all the car’s electronic features and the motor. It can be found under the hood of the car.
Powered by the battery, the radio allows the driver to listen to music or news while driving. The settings for this can be found in the car’s dashboard (the front inside of the car that the driver can access) to the right of the steering wheel.
21. Stick shift
If the car is manual, that means that the driver must change the car into different gears (adjust the engine depending on speed). For this, the driver can use the stick shift.
For automatic cars, the car changes into different gears on its own. In these cars, the stick shift is used to put the car in the drive, reverse, neutral or park.
This gauge (dial) is on the dashboard and allows the driver to see how fast they’re going.
This is the place beside the steering wheel where the car key can turn on the car. When the car key is put into the ignition and turned, the battery and engine turn on.
24. Air bag
If the car gets into an accident, rapidly (very fast) inflating sacs (bags) of air pop out of the steering wheel and front interior (inside) of the car to stop the driver and passengers from being thrown further forward and seriously hurting themselves.
25. Fuse box
Underneath the dashboard (typically under the steering wheel), there’s a panel that can be removed to expose the fuse box. This is where the control board of the electrical system is located.
This is the pedal to the left side that stops the car when in motion.
The accelerator is the pedal to the right side that makes the car move. The harder you press, the faster the car accelerates (moves forward).
Underneath the hood, there’s a water tank called the radiator. It’s responsible for cooling the engine, so the car doesn’t overheat (get too hot).
29. Fuel injector
Under the hood of the car, this piece of machinery delivers the gas into the engine so that the car can use that fuel to move.
5 Common Issues with Cars and Their Solutions in English
Now that you know some common car parts in English, you should also know some common car problems as well as what to do when these problems happen.
Problem 1: A warning light has come on in my car.
Solution: A warning light (a bright light on the dashboard) is often the first sign of trouble in a car, but there’s no need to panic.
Warning lights can be a check engine light that means the engine should be inspected, a low fuel light that means you need to put gas into the car or a change oil light that means you need to change the engine oil.
Be sure to check your owner’s or renter’s manual to figure out what the warning light means. You can solve the problem yourself if it’s possible or take your car to a mechanic (someone who fixes cars) to find out what’s wrong and get further assistance (help).
Problem 2: My car has a flat tire.
Solution: Many things can cause flat tires (tires that have low or no air in them).
Sometimes a tire is just low on air. In this case, take the car to a gas station (the place to buy gas for the car) to get more air. Often, however, the tire has been punctured (stabbed) by a nail or some other sharp object.
If the car has a spare tire, you can install the spare yourself. You should later bring the car with the flat tire to the mechanic to have the tire patched (fixed) or replaced.
Problem 3: My car won’t start.
Solution: If you put the key into the ignition, turn it and nothing happens, the reason could be a number of things. First, you should try jumping the car’s battery (using power from another car to recharge the battery of your car) with jumper cables.
If the car is still not starting, call a tow truck (a pick-up truck that can pull cars) to bring your car to the mechanic for further assistance.
Problem 4: My car’s engine is overheating, and there’s smoke coming from under the hood.
Solution: This is a serious problem and could be very dangerous. If you see smoke coming out of the front of your car, it’s probably overheated. Pull over immediately and turn the car off. Next, call a tow truck and bring the car to a mechanic.
Problem 5: I’ve gotten into a car accident.
Solution: This is perhaps the most stressful situation for those driving a car in a foreign country.
First of all, make sure everyone involved is okay, and make sure to get out of the way of traffic, so further collisions (accidents) don’t occur. Call an ambulance if medical assistance is necessary.
If you’re renting the car, you should call the rental company immediately (right away) for instructions. You should also exchange information (name, phone number, insurance, etc.) with the other driver. This may be needed later.
If someone is seriously injured or the car cannot be driven because it’s totaled (destroyed), call the authorities (police), as well. In many places, it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident, so make sure you follow all the steps before leaving, no matter how small the accident may seem.
How to Practice Car Parts in English
Cars can be tricky—some take synthetic oil, some take premium gas and some have stick shifts.
With all these advanced terms, you’re going to need to practice!
One of the easiest ways to practice car parts in English is by looking at your car manual (the book that explains how the car works). By law in most countries around the world, a car must be sold with its matching manual to aid with any maintenance (work that keeps the car running safely and without problems) or repairs.
If you have a car, chances are that car has a manual in its glove compartment (the closed space under the dashboard of the passenger side).
Best of all, many car manuals are in multiple languages. That means that you’ll be able to find the manual in your native language as well as in a foreign language. If your car manual has a translation in English—that’s awesome! You can study the manual in English using the text in your native language as a reference.
You can also apply your new knowledge of car parts in English by actually labeling a car on Passport to English.
You can create flashcards using multimedia related to cars with the FluentU program to further practice your new vocabulary. FluentU will also let you search for words so you can see them in use in real native speaker videos.
More quizzes for the names and definitions of car parts can be found at Grizly, as well as Quizizz.
Further, the ISL Collective also offers long-answer questions for you to practice your knowledge of car-related situations.
Well, that should be enough to build your confidence a bit and make you feel more secure about driving in an English-speaking country.
So, put your luggage in the trunk and turn up your favorite tunes on the radio. Road-tripping is one of the best ways to explore the English-speaking world, and with your new knowledge of car parts in English, you’re ready to hit the open road!