A Guide to Simple Machines Used in Cars & Trucks
Is a car a simple machine? A simple machine is any type of basic mechanism that changes the direction or magnitude of some type of force. Learn more about cars, trucks, and simple machines.
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UPDATED: Jun 23, 2022
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- Cars and trucks have all six types of simple mechanisms within them
- These simple machines in your car control the movement and function of it
- Compound machines are also found in cars and trucks
Is a car a simple machine? A simple machine is any type of basic mechanism that changes the direction or the magnitude of some type of force. There are many of these machines in your car, including the six basic forms: wheels and axles, wedge, screw, inclined plane, pulley, and lever. Consider what each of these simple mechanisms is and how they work.
If you’d like a similar guide but one that is more oriented toward children, try our review of simple machines in cars for kids here. If you’re in the market for affordable car insurance, feel free to enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool above to begin comparison shopping.
Simple Machines Found in Cars and Trucks
Simple machines are just as they sound. They are simple, non-electrical, or non-fueled mechanisms that change force in some way. They make up many of the devices that people use today. This guide to cars and trucks shows how simple machines work in vehicles as described by the Department of Physics at Illinois State.
Wheels and Axles
The wheels and axles of a vehicle contribute to the movement of the vehicle. They help propel the car in a forward or backward motion. The steering wheel helps to guide the movement of the car as the wheels and axles move.
Levers are simple machines that can change the direction of applied force. They can also change the effective strength of that force or change the distance and speed of movement from that force. The gear shift is a type of lever in a vehicle. The gears themselves are types of levers. They impart a force on each other to alter the direction of force and also amplify it. For example, the gears in your gearbox make your axles turn at different speeds relative to the crankshaft in your engine. The gears in your differential take your driveshaft which runs in one direction and make it turn your axles which run perpendicular to your driveshaft.
Pulleys are a simple machine that, in their simplest form, is a wheel and rope. The rope sits within the wheel’s groove. The pulley makes it easier for someone to pick up a heavy load attached to one side of the rope. Pulleys are found, for example, in the ropes on a sailboat. Pulleys can also be seen on engines helping to run belts.
Screws are a heavily used simple machine in cars and trucks. Defined as an inclined plane that’s wrapped around a central axis, screws work to hold things in place. They can also work as a press or a corkscrew. In vehicles, they hold parts together within the vehicle.
Inclined planes raise objects with less effort than it would be to lift that object in an upward motion. Ramps are an example of inclined planes. In trucks, ramps are necessary to help move objects from the ground into the bed of the truck.
A wedge is a triangularly shaped device that’s placed between two objects. Once in place, the wedge keeps objects from moving. A piece of wood placed behind the car tire is an example of a wedge in vehicles.
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Is a car a compound machine?
Why is a truck a compound machine? Compound machines are any machine that has two or more simple machines within them. That is, a compound machine has two or more simple machines often working together to achieve the desired goal.
In the case of cars and trucks, many components work together to create the desired outcome. The lever, screws, wheels, and axle machines are used together to help create motion in the vehicle. Most vehicles have numerous simple machines within them. All must work together so the vehicle can move.
Compound machines create more friction when functioning. This creates more wear and tear, making compound machines less efficient. That’s seen in the car’s engine, which has many moving parts that are simple machines. When these simple machines work together, they create friction and heat. The engine needs oil or grease to help reduce the damage this causes. Compound machines require more care, generally than simple machines. That’s why it is so important to get your vehicle in for an oil change.
The Bottom Line About Simple Machines
Is a car a simple machine, or is a car a compound machine? In this guide to cars and trucks, it’s clear that simple machines make up the function of vehicles. Yet, as simple as these individual components are, they require care and maintenance to keep them functioning properly. Protect the value of your vehicle by focusing on good vehicle maintenance and upkeep. Keep it financially protected with the car insurance basics, too.
If it’s time to start looking for new car insurance, feel free to enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below.
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