The cars that most people drive have been manufactured and assembled in factories somewhere. Some people buy custom cars made with their input, and sometimes their help, while others construct their own motor vehicles from the ground up. The basics of building a car remain more or less the same in any case. The process just takes place on either a larger or smaller scale.
Components are the different parts from which a vehicle is made. It is possible to get very specific here and start talking about weldments and cylinder heads made with a process of lost foam casting. When it comes to fundamentals, however, a car has five basic components.
The body is the component that most people are primarily aware of. This is the outer shell of the vehicle in which most of the other components are contained. The chassis and frame provide support to the body and the other vehicle components. The engine is one of the most important components because it is the source of the power that causes the vehicle to move on its own. Most cars and trucks on the road today have internal combustion engines, but some run on electric batteries or a system that makes use of both power sources.
The energy produced by the engine has to reach the car’s wheels so that they can move. The component that takes care of this is the transmission, so called because it transmits power to the wheels from the engine. The final component consists of accessories, which are items that are not necessary to the car’s operation but make driving it more practical and comfortable for those within.
Some accessories are more essential than others. For example, windshield wipers do nothing to help a car go, but it would be impossible to drive in the rain or snow without them. On the other hand, a stereo system helps to make the drive more pleasant, but plenty of drivers operate vehicles without it.
Before a car can be built, it has to go through a process of design and planning. The first step is a concept, which is an idea for a vehicle that has not yet been produced. The concept can be extremely detailed or somewhat vague. It can be the product of only one mind, or it may be the result of a collaboration.
Once a concept is in place, the next step is to create a detailed design. These may be two-dimensional or three dimensional, created by hand or with the aid of a computer. The person who had the original idea may also design the car, or someone else may interpret the concept to produce a design. In either case, the design may go through changes or improvements from the original concept.
The design then serves as the basis for a prototype. Typically built by hand, the prototype is a working model of the finished product. The prototype presents an opportunity to see how the car functions and whether it is safe and comfortable for consumers and worthy of the road. Testing the prototype should reveal any flaws in the car’s design, which engineers should then be able to correct. It may be necessary to produce several prototypes before there is a workable model.
The production process varies depending on whether the automobile is a one-of-a-kind custom car or a vehicle that is going to go into mass production. In either case, the process involves obtaining the components and assembling them. For a custom car, this will usually take place by hand, while mass production takes place in a factory.
Before a car can be mass produced, the machinery used in production must be calibrated to meet the new specifications, and raw materials must be obtained. The people who work in manufacturing no longer assemble the vehicles by hand. Rather, they control the process with computers. Nevertheless, it is still necessary for them to be educated about it for each new model.
At every point in the manufacturing process, quality control is very important. Otherwise, a mass-produced vehicle could pose a serious threat to public safety.