Explain driving and cars.
June 16, 2011 10:42 PM Subscribe
Tell me about driving and about cars.
posted by tumid dahlia to Travel & Transportation (37 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
We recently purchased our first car. I will say that it is a Ford Fiesta Zetec with 6-speed auto as that may be relevant down the line.
I have been a licensed driver for, I dunno, fifteen or sixteen years but only ever really driven solidly for, I would say, five of those years. It's always been someone else's car for a quick trip or a hire car for the weekend or a few days on a job in a work car. I haven't had any accidents and don't ever intend to, but I'd like to avoid the mindset of "I have a license and therefore I am Good Driver".
In this new car, for example, I tend to stick too close to the center line (Australia, so we drive on the left) and can be pretty sloppy with parking as I am a) not yet confident about the dimensions of the car and b) have only had it for a couple of weeks and am thus very precious about scratching up the wheels or whatever. And there's other stuff I'm worried about. Like, if I'm going up a steep hill, and I put the car in low gear to make it less taxing, can I then get to the top of the hill and just cruise along and pop it into Drive or should I slow down or even stop first? What's with tapping the brake pedal twice? What's a handbrake turn and how does it work? Why should one steer into a slip/skid/slide?
Basically I have a car and a license and I want to know how to take myself from being "a driver" to "actually quite a fairly decent driver, now that I've thought about it for a bit". I don't want to ever run into anything that's alive. So I'd love to hear from experienced drivers about things that non-experienced drivers probably don't really think about, but that might come in useful in a whole host of situations.
Also I have no real idea about cars. Like, cylinders I vaguely get (you explode the fuel and it moves the piston in the cylinder, right?) but what's the deal with a 6 cylinder car but it's got 12 valves? Are valves where the fuel gets squirted in and the spark plug lights it and then you get combustion?
One thing I've found useful, though, that others might, and I use it to illustrate the sort of stuff I want to know about, and I think I read this on Metafilter at some point anyway, is that on most if not all recent-ish (say, I dunno, post-1980?) cars, if you look at the fuel gauge, there's a little icon of a fuel pump, and on one side or the other of that icon there's a little indicator and that shows you the side of the car your fuel cap's on! Handy, right? What other handy things need I know?