Car driving down mountain road

Ready to test your car trivia knowledge? We see a lot of common Brigham City car repair needs on a daily basis, but sometimes we get something a bit more unique.

No matter how much you know about cars, there are probably a few parts that can stump you. Or, maybe you know very little, but you’re familiar with basic parts like the battery, your tires, and how to check your oil. Let’s learn about some of the lesser-known parts of a car, and what they do.

Obscure Car Parts

Your car has a lot of lights, gauges, and buttons. But what are they all for? You probably know the odometer for showing mileage, the speedometer for clocking speed, and the fuel gauge that lets you know it’s time to fill up. But do you know about the following in your car?

What They Are, and What They Do


This component measures the current in an electrical current. Since various parts of a car require different currents, it’s important to know how much energy is going where.


Also known as a tilt sensor, this used to be more common in cars than it is today. The clinometer can be purchased as an optional mount on your car, helping you measure the angle of surface tilt. 


This meter measures the torque and rotational speed (revolutions per minute) of an engine.

Glow plug

You’ve heard of sparkplugs, found in the engine, but what about glow plugs? These are heating elements in your engine that heat fuel and air to aid in the combustion process. A glow plug is a long, thin piece of metal, constructed to withstand high heat and rust.

Brake shoe

Did you know your brakes not only have rotors and pads but shoes as well? A brake shoe is a part of the drum brake system. They’re a rounded, crescent-shaped metal that has friction material on one side. During braking, the shoes move outward, pushing them against the brake drum to bring the wheel to a halt. Brake shoes aren’t found in disc brake systems.

Poppet valve

In the olden days, “poppet” was a term of endearment. You’ll still hear the word used today, such as in the film Pirates of the Caribbean. Poppets are also a candy from 1937, and while we wish your car had a valve for releasing treats, it probably doesn’t. The poppet valve controls the timing and amount of fuel that enters your engine. It is sometimes referred to as a mushroom valve due to its appearance.


In bowling, the kingpin is the one situated at the front of the triangle. In your car, the kingpin connects two knuckle joints together, such as those used in the steering mechanism.

How Car Parts Got Their Names

Have you ever wondered why some parts of your car have the names they do? Below, our Brigham City car repair team takes a look at some outdated names for common components in cars.


Before automobiles, it was common to use horse-drawn carriages to get around. In those days, the roads weren’t paved, so drives found themselves dashing along dirt roads. In wet weather, horses’ hooves kicked up a lot of mud and debris, much to the dismay of the driver and passengers sitting behind in the carriage. To avoid this issue, carriage builders started adding a board, horizontally, across the front of the carriage. When the horses dashed (a term for moving quickly), the board prevented the mud from hitting the people in the carriage. Thus, the term “dashboard” was coined and it is still used today.

Glove Compartment

This might be more common knowledge, but the glove compartment still makes a few people think. Why would a car have a special storage place just for gloves? Driving gloves used to be a popular accessory, especially for early cars with wooden or metal steering wheels. Additionally, cars used to be more open to the elements so you can imagine that a drier’s hands would benefit from being protected against harsh weather. Automobile makers realized drivers often left their gloves in their cars when they got to their destination and decided to offer a dedicated compartment for them. In early automobiles, the glove box was located near the driver for convenient storage, and locks for them eventually became an option. It allowed drivers to leave their gloves in a safe place and evolved into a lockable compartment for other items as well. 

Mansfield Bar

The backs of large trucks now come outfitted with a safety bar to pay homage to actor Jayne Mansfield. In 1967, she and her two passengers crashed into the back of a semi-truck and died upon impact. Her vehicle went under the trailer of the semi, causing fatal injuries to the occupants. At the time, a safety bar to prevent cars from going under semis wasn’t required. It wasn’t until 1998 that these safety bars were mandated on tractor-trailers, but they have been referred to as Mansfield bars since the actor’s death.

Ash Tray

Have you ever wondered why the little coin drawer in your car is often referred to as an ashtray? Believe it or not, cars built before the 1990s used to include ashtrays and cigarette lighters in the dashboard console. With the push of a button, passengers could heat a small coil in the dash and remove it to light a cigarette. The ashtray pulled out to accommodate the smoker, most likely because windows were hand-operated back then and less convenient to roll down. Although auto manufacturers stopped including lighters in the 90s, the ashtray has lived on to provide a handy storage spot for loose change.

If there’s anything going on with your vehicle, contact the Brigham City car repair experts at Master Muffler.

Categories: Automotive Info

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