Hooniverse Asks: What is something you don’t understand about cars?

I am being purposefully vague here. What is something you do not understand about cars, trucks, bikes, or vehicles in general? It could be something mechanical that just causes your brain to skip about. Maybe it’s related to the sales and marketing side of things. Perhaps it’s how to do a certain driving technique. Or maybe it’s more philosophical in nature.

The comment section below is your chance to free up some brain space and explore what you don’t know. So share with us something that you simply do not understand about one of our favorite subjects.

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21 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What is something you don’t understand about cars?”

  1. Aaron Graham Avatar

    Transmissions are magic, plain and simple. I can figure out every other piece of automotive technology but transmission… fuggedaboutit ?

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Why don’t more people love cars? And boats, and snowmobiles, and motorcycles, lawn mowers, atvs, monster trucks, etc….
    Why do more and more people simply look at cars as an appliance to move them from one place to another? Obviously, I LOVE vehicles (and I’m sure everyone else in the Hooniverse feels the same).

    I love the freedom they afford. This is something that I’m in control of. Me. Not big-gubment, or Covid, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to deal with traffic problems (unless it’s harvest season and I get stuck behind a combine or grain truck for 10 extra seconds) so driving isn’t a chore. It’s fun!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Ha, I came here with the opposite question – how did cars become so emotional, such a heavy indicator of who you are? Obviously, I feel the same way, all the while thinking I’m a rational being, until my choice in cars pokes me in the eye with a big NO!. Yes, this perspective is wavering, probably partly replaced by gadgets and what not, but how did we get there and why are we comfortable with it?

      I also enjoy driving, living in a similar context. Friends keep suggesting trains and planes for trips we’re planning when I think the drive is part of the experience. They just look at me baffled. My love of cars makes me feel old and outdated, but I’m not letting that go.

      1. smaglik Avatar

        There is a lot of truth to this. People always look at me in an odd light when I tell them about a 4,000 mile road trip I have planned, but I’ve noticed that the looks have gotten weirder over the years, especially when I talk about the code reader and other miscellaneous parts I bring along to help ensure success…

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Expecting challenges and mastering them is just an honorable life skill, but I agree that the thought of cars needing to work 100% without flaw is the first step to see them as pure applications. It has slipped into my mind – and I know when; we couldn’t just spend the night broken down in randomplace anymore when we got kids.

          Tomorrow, I’ll be going on a winter vacation with a friend, having send away the rest of the family. I’m struggling to let my friend drive the boring parts, because he thinks driving is boring anyway, or if he should get the road-tenderloins for education. But I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.

          1. smaglik Avatar

            Simple solution…your friend only drives long enough for you to catch a nap, and get back on the throne. And, enjoy! We’re finally getting our first snow dump of the season, so, not much travel going on around here for a couple days.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            Yeah, it might just end up this way. The cabin we got is along a road I loved when I lived in the area in 2003. Really looking forward to letting that little Hyundai slide…sighs in underpowered

            Funny though that you’re getting snow first now, at that altitude. Figured you’d be blessed earlier.

          3. smaglik Avatar

            I wish we were. If we don’t get a few dumps, we’re going to have a really bad fire year. La Nina, long term sw US drought, yada yada yada.

            I also slide the e91 in this stuff. It is a good time.

    2. smaglik Avatar

      I think that living in a rural area makes it a lot easier to view driving as something fun, rather than a chore. I’m in a similar boat as you, there is rarely traffic, so it really is fun to me. Yesterday morning I headed to the bowl for a practice session, 50 miles one way, starting at 7,000` and ending at 3,300`, with absolutely beautiful country the whole way. I don’t see how some can view that as a chore…

  3. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    never figured carburetors out. i’ve never owned anything with one until the pressure washer i got recently. what are all the pieces in this steampunk contraption? jets, needles, bowls? it all sounds like stuff you’d use to do drugs. i’m very grateful for EFI.

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        i did! i’m just so bad at remembering things until i’ve worked with them.

  4. Maymar Avatar

    The Scandinavian Flick – I’m of Scandinavian descent, but wrong Scandinavian, so I’m just no good at it. I feel like I get the basic idea, but can never make it work.

  5. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Lubrication. High pressure, low pressure, splash, high viscosity, low viscosity, grease, assembly lube…the rules about what sort of mechanism requires what doesn’t seem to be very clear-cut.

  6. Lokki Avatar

    The differential is a huge mystery to me. I can visualize most parts of a car as they function. Given tools, time, and material, I could approximate crude demonstration models of most things, even a transmission, although revers would be the sketchiest part. However the differential puzzles me. I have looked at models and diagrams, and I can seethe gears turning understand the difference between an open diff and a limited slip diff. But I cannot wrap my head around how the gears interact in such studd

    1. wunno sev Avatar
      wunno sev

      i think of diffs as vector addition! if you can just imagine the two axles and two pinions, think of them as two wheels with a differential speed – one is traveling “d” mph forward and the other that same speed backwards. then you add those speeds to the forward speed “f” of the car because the whole diff assembly is spinning. so the outside wheel spins at f+d and the inside wheel spins at f-d.

      at least, that was the light bulb moment for me. now that i’m writing it out, not sure it’s super clear. have you seen this video? one of the great Jam Handy mechanical explainers from times past. https://youtu.be/yYAw79386WI

    2. scoutdude Avatar

      I think one of the key things to understanding how a standard differential works is that the torque is tranferred from the case to the pin the pinion gears rotate on and from those gears to the side gears attached to the axle. If the vehicle is driving straight ahead the pinion gears do not spin and the torque is transferred equally to each wheel, both axles rotate at the same rpm as the differential case. If the vehicle is turning a corner the pinion gears will rotate to allow one wheel to spin X% faster than the differential case and the other to spin X% slower than the differential case. To put it another way the case rpm is equal the average of the rpm of the axles. As an example if you are going around a corner and the right wheel is going 100 rpm and the left wheel is going 120 rpm the differential case will be spinning at 110 rpm.

      The other thing that can help with understanding is to consider what happens when you have one wheel stopped and the other free to spin. If we have the case spinning at that same 110 rpm we know that the sum of the axle speeds needs to be 220 rpm. If one is at 0 rpm then the other must be at 220 rpm. So when you spin that single tire at an indicated 20 mph then the wheel is actually spinning at twice the indicated speed. In this situation the stopped axle acts like a reactionary gear in a planetary gear set. It forces the pinion gear to rotate and by rotating it drives the other axle twice as fast.

      Hope some of that helps.

  7. Lokki Avatar

    Dammit. One of my thumbs slipped while I was thinking but the other one kept right on moving

  8. crank_case Avatar

    I have a few questions..

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      And you may ask yourself, “How do I work this?”
      And you may ask yourself, “Where is that large automobile?”
      And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house”
      And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful wife”

      1. smaglik Avatar

        Completely underrated musical group…