Automobiles are a major lifeline to the modern world, providing us with luxuries that would not be available without them. They are a large part of our lives and are often used for work, school, family, and fun. The automobile has many systems that are designed to interact with and support each other. The major systems are the engine, fuel system, transmission, electrical system, cooling and lubrication system, suspension, wheels and tires, and the chassis and body.
The first automobiles were developed in the late 1800s by engineers such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and Emile Levassor. Unlike the horse-drawn carriage, they ran on an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. The most common fuel today is gasoline, but ethanol and other alternatives are growing in popularity.
Regardless of the fuel source, an automobile must be strong enough to hold the weight of the vehicle and to react quickly to the surface conditions of the road. It must also be able to carry passengers, and be comfortable for them to ride in. The suspension system provides these functions by supporting the wheels above the road and absorbing the shocks of driving over bumps, dips, and turns.
The chassis is the skeleton on which the other parts of the car are mounted. The chassis is the foundation on which the wheels, suspension, steering, and braking systems are attached. It must be rigid enough to support the heavy weight of the car, but flexible enough to support the shocks and tension of driving.