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Automobiles are vehicles that are designed primarily for passenger transportation and commonly propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems, incorporating thousands of individual parts with specific design functions. These components are grouped into several semi-independent systems that are analogous to the human body, such as the circulatory system and the nervous system.

An automobile consists of a chassis, body, controls, and auxiliaries. The chassis is the vehicle’s skeletal structure, built by welding together stamped components. The body, which is mounted on the chassis, serves many purposes, including providing comfort and safety for passengers. It contains the passenger compartment, offers storage space, and houses the vehicle’s control systems. It also provides protection from the elements, and a firewall between the engine and the rest of the car protects the passengers in case of fire.

The most important component of the automobile is its engine, which generates motive power. In modern cars, this is usually a gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine that may be either a spark ignition or compression ignition engine. The engine drives the crankshaft, which turns the wheels. The wheels are driven through differentials that distribute the power between the inner and outer wheels. This gives rise to a propulsive force (tractive effort) between the road wheels and the road surface, and can be varied by using different gear ratios in the transmission system.

Other important components are the axles, which transmit the torque from the engine to the wheels. These are connected to the road wheels by the suspension system, which uses springs to suspend the chassis above the wheel and shock absorbers to dampen or quiet the movement of the springs using tubes and chambers filled with hydraulic fluid.


One of the main advantages that automobiles offer over horse-drawn carriages and bicycles is the ability to cover large distances quickly. This allows people to work in cities and travel to rural areas for leisure activities. It has given people more freedom, and has opened up new jobs and businesses such as travel agents, hotels, amusement parks, and restaurants. However, it has also had negative effects on the environment through pollution, and the need to clear land for highways and related industries. It has also brought problems such as traffic congestion, and the need for law enforcement agencies and other services such as fire and ambulance services. In addition, owning a car requires regular maintenance, and finding a place to park can be a challenge. Nevertheless, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.