Can You Answer These Common Sense Car Questions?


By: Robert Bacon

6 Min Quiz

Image: Thomas Barwick/ DigitalVision/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

For some, knowing how and when to set up your AWD system doesn't matter ... right up until they need a snow-covered road. The same people might not realize that generally speaking, AWD cars also use more fuel than a two-wheel-drive car. A relatively large amount of these people probably rarely need the traction an AWD system provides, and end up paying for it at the pumps. 

A recent study found that nearly three-quarters of millennials wouldn't feel confident enough to change a car's tire. So in the event of a puncture, they'd need to use a breakdown service: yet more money needlessly spent.

Common car knowledge won't just save you money, it could save your life. For instance, do you know how to react should your car begin to skid on black ice? Or if you pull up to a junction with four roads of equal importance, who has the right of way? A wrong move in one of these situations could leave a dent in your wallet and car, or worse!

If you think you have what it takes to ace this common-sense automotive quiz, show us! If you don't, you might learn something which could save you money, or maybe even your life!

What should you do if your car starts to skid on ice?

If your rear end starts to step out while you're driving over ice, you should counter-steer to correct the unwanted drift. For example, if you're going around a right-hand bend and the rear of your vehicle steps out to the left, you should turn your steering wheel to the left to correct the drift.


Which of these sayings helps you know if you're driving too closely to another vehicle?

Pick a point on the road ahead. As soon as the vehicle in front of you passes that point, say to yourself, "Only a fool breaks the two-second rule." If you can finish this saying before you pass the point you initially picked, you should be a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead of you. If it's wet, repeat this saying twice.


If a car is in sound working order, which of the following would cause its automatic gearbox to stall?

It's almost impossible to stall a modern automatic car if it's mechanically sound. If your vehicle doesn't have a reverse inhibit feature and you put it into reverse while moving forward in drive, you may stall the engine.


What colors are jumper cables?

Jumper cables are always black and red, and for good reason. The black cable always houses the negative (-) part and the red cable always houses the positive (+) part.


If your car is understeering, which wheels have lost traction?

Understeer occurs when your front tires lose traction while cornering. If you're carrying too much momentum when trying to turn, your car will keep traveling in the same direction even as you turn the steering wheel.


On a FWD car, which tires generally wear out first?

On front-wheel-drive (FWD) the front tires generally wear out faster than the rear. This is because the front tires need to deal with accelerating, turning and the majority of the braking.


How many seats does a roadster have?

The term "roadster" was an American term given to two-seat cars which offered no weather protection. Now, however, the term is used internationally to include two-seat convertibles.


When do your vehicle's headlights need to be turned on?

Twilight, or the short time preceding the sunset, can be quite a dangerous time to be on the road. Visibility is greatly reduced yet many people don't switch on their headlights. To combat this, you must legally switch on your headlights 30 minutes before sunset in all states.


When can you cross a solid white line on the highway?

Normally you are never supposed to cross a solid white line on a highway. But, sometimes, traffic conditions may require you to cross a solid white line. For instance, if there was a collision in the lane ahead, you may need to cross the white line to keep traffic moving.


What does a flashing yellow traffic light mean?

Unlike a solid yellow traffic light, which generally means slow down and stop, a flashing yellow light means to proceed with caution. The traffic facing the flashing yellow light has the right-of-way, whereas cross-traffic will have a flashing red light.


If there's a broken yellow line on your side of the road and a solid yellow line on the other side, when can you pass?

A broken yellow line indicates that passing is allowed. However, you can't just pass whenever you want and must ensure that oncoming traffic is far enough away for you to complete the maneuver safely.


One of these statements is true about BAC (blood alcohol content), but which one?

A Breathalyzer is a device used to test someone's blood alcohol level (BAC). If it shows that you're over the legal limit to drive, then you could be convicted.


You're approaching your exit off the expressway. When do you need to indicate?

You need to turn on your indicator and signal a turn at least 100 feet before the turn. This gives other drivers enough warning that you're about to initiate a maneuver.


How many spark plugs in a V-8 gasoline engine?

A V-8 gasoline engine has eight cylinders. Each cylinder on a gasoline engine has a spark plug, so a V-8 powerplant has eight spark plugs.


What is the main purpose for the treads on tires?

As you drive over a wet surface, the treads on your tires essentially kick the water out to the side. This means that the part of the road your tires are in contact with is slightly drier and therefore has more grip.


If your vehicle's ABS is broken, which of the following could happen?

A car's ABS (anti-lock braking system) stops the wheels from skidding when they begin to lose grip. This maintains tractive contact with the road surface and ensures better braking performance.


What type of car is a "bimmer"?

BMW has a cult-like following, so of course it has some nicknames. "Bimmer" is just one of the many nicknames for a BMW, another popular one is "Beamer".


What should you do to help an old car with a carbureted engine start on a cold morning?

When you pull the choke on a carbureted engine, it restricts the airflow to the air/fuel mixture. This enriches the mixture which will then combust more easily.


If you're driving behind a slow-moving vehicle, what sign would you see?

Orange triangular signs are placed on slow-moving vehicles (or smv). SMVs are vehicles which are being towed, or which are unable to reach speeds over 25 mph.


Do you know what an odometer shows?

An odometer, also known as an odograph, measures the distance that a vehicle has traveled. This is something you'll always want to check on a second-hand car to see if it's had a long life on the road.


Ford's F-150 is the second-best selling vehicle of all time, but do you know what it's classed as?

To qualify as a pickup, the vehicle must have an enclosed cab and an open cargo area with a tailgate and low sides. In America, Ford's F-150 has been the best-selling pickup for more than 40 years and the best-selling vehicle for over 30 years.


If you were driving a FWD car, what wheels would be propelling the car?

FWD stands for "front-wheel drive." In FWD vehicles, all the engine's power is sent to the front two wheels.


At what speed does your risk of hydroplaning become a lot more likely?

It's true that it's possible to hydroplane below 35 mph. However, it's not very likely. Your chances of hydroplaning go up considerably once you hit 35 mph, and continue to rise if your speed increases beyond that.


What's the first thing you should do if your brake pedal fails and drops to the floor while driving?

If your brake pedal drops to the floor, there's a chance that it's just lost pressure and you can build this pressure up by pumping the pedal repeatedly. If this works, it will hopefully provide enough stopping power to bring you to a complete stop, but you shouldn't drive again before fixing the problem.


Which of the following should you not do when driving over black ice?

Skids on black ice are the result of change. This could be a change in direction or speed, so the last thing you want to do is hit the brakes.


Can you bump start an automatic car?

You need to quickly engage a car's clutch in order to bump start it. Automatic cars don't have a manual clutch, therefore you can't manually engage it.


What does RWD stand for?

RWD stands for "rear-wheel drive." In RWD cars, all the power is sent to the rear wheels.


In the automotive world, what is a "Vette?"

The Corvette is possibly the most recognized American sports car ever made. And you don't get to be so popular without picking up some nicknames along the way. So this model is sometimes affectionately known as a "Vette."


If your car is oversteering, which wheels have lost traction?

When a car oversteers, the rear wheels lose traction. This is more common on rear-wheel-drive cars, and generally happens when the driver applies more power than the tires can handle.


In auto lingo, if your friend told you that they "did the ton," what are they talking about?

Doing the "ton" means traveling 100 mph or above and originated from the British café racing culture of the '60s. Achieving the magical 100 mph mark was a dream for the "Ton-Up-Boys" who tuned their motorcycles to go as fast as possible and usually rode a Vincent twin, Norton or Triumph.


What does a "4X" refer to?

If a vehicle is "4X," it has a four-wheel-drive system. Not so long ago this would've been described as "4X4," but has lost the last "4" recently.


Which of the following is the best-known drag racing distance?

A quarter-mile is the most common distance most people associate with drag racing. However, racing over an eighth-mile track is becoming more and more popular, and the premier drag racing classes run over 1,000 feet.


What does "RPM" stand for?

In the automotive world, when we talk about RPM we're referring to revolutions per minute. Specifically, this measures the number of times your engine's crankshaft makes one full rotation per minute.


Ford dominated the American muscle scene in the late '60s with which model?

The Mustang was revealed to the public at the New York World's Fair in 1964 and proceeded to dominate the American muscle scene. The 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 deserves a special mention with its 7.0-liter V-8 engine which pumped out a whopping 355 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.


Do you know what system has replaced carburetors in modern engines?

Most modern engines have EFI (or electronic fuel injection). With this system, injectors directly deliver the fuel into the combustion chamber.


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