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A Beginner's Guide To What Is Under Your Car Hood

Always wondered what are the different components under your car hood? This article will explain the different components in a car and their functions.


The engine is the main component that powers a car and takes up most of the space under your hood. This is something you will definitely not miss.

Engine Oil Cap and Dipstick

The engine oil cap is usually located at the top of the engine and easily accessible without the use of any tools. Engine oil is topped up through this opening. The dipstick is used to determine the engine oil level. The engine oil level should be checked regularly to ensure sufficient oil in your engine.


Some people mistakenly think that the car battery supplies all the electricity for a car. This is not true as the alternator is the charger and main source of electricity for your car.

Power Steering Pump

The power steering pump is a hydraulic pump that is part of the power steering system. It makes your driving experience more pleasurable as it lightens the weight or the steering and your do not need to use so much force to turn the wheels. Should it fail while you are driving, the steering can weighten up significantly, causing serious safety risks.

Air Conditioning Compressor

Without a working air-conditioning compressor, you would most likely be cooked by the blazing heat in our all-year round summer weather. This is a car part that you will usually be replacing every 2 to 3 years.

Drive Belts

The drive belts (also known as fan belts) drives the various components such as the three mentioned above. If the belt snaps, you will instantly lose the respective

Some engines also have a timing belt, which controls intricate components in the engine. If it snaps, you'll likely be facing a hefty repair bill.

While it isn't easy for the layman to inspect the conditions of the alternator, power steering pump and air-con compressor, you should be able to tell if your car’s belts require immediate attention (look out for cracks, frays or other signs of excessive wear).

Cooling System

The cooling system is vital to the normal operation of the engine. Understandably, it is one of the main components in the engine bay to look out for. Should there be any issues with the cooling system, the engine can overheat and result in catastrophic damages.


The radiator is a water to air heat exchanger (don't go looking for it on air-cooled vehicles!), piping hot coolant is passed through the radiator to be cooled down, so as to keep the engine temperature in check.

The radiator is extremely hot when in operation, and the coolant is highly pressurised, you should never attempt to open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

Electric Fans

Electric fans aid the radiator in doing its job by pulling air through it. In most cars, at least one of two fans would be running when the engine reaches operating temperature. If your car is overheating and both fans aren't running, there's a good chance that they are faulty.

Coolant Reservoir

Located near the radiator and connected to it. Abnormal coolant reservoir level can point towards a problematic cooling system

Power Steering Fluid Reservoir

The hydraulic power steering system requires fluid to operate. Insufficient power steering fluid will cause damage to the system, affecting the safety and reliability of your car.

Brake Fluid Reservoir

Brakes are undoubtedly one of the most important parts in a car. You would most certainly get into an accident if your brakes fail while you are driving. Brake fluid is vital for your car's brakes to work


The battery or starter battery can also be found under the hood of most cars. It's purpose is to provide the elecricity to start the engine. If you can'r start your car, there's a good chance that the battery has failed. Do take note of the date of purchase of the battery, as they have a limited lifespan

Windscreen Fluid Reservoir

This is where you top up water to clean your windscreen.


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