Can You Guess What These Auto Care Products Do?



By: Dave Davis

7 Min Quiz

Image: 4X-image / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

It's easy to neglect the care of our cars and trucks. They're just waiting for us in our driveways or garages, ready to go at a moment's notice, right? Well, this is true most of the time, but if you don't spare some thought for your automotive friend's short- and long-term needs, one morning it might not start, or, worse, it might leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Are you your car's best friend or its worst frenemy? This quiz will let you know where you stand on that spectrum!

Taking care of your vehicle isn't rocket science — that requires an entirely different set of tools and expertise — but it does require a little knowledge, building a skill set and knowing when to take your car in for some professional service. Understanding the basic maintenance schedule and tools that are needed to keep your vehicle in top working order is important.

You don't have to know how to clean or replace an engine, but you should know the basics. This quiz will show you 40 pictures; your task is to either tell us what each item is called or what it does to prolong the life of your automobile (and sometimes its name is its purpose). 

We feel in our gut that you know your spark plug wrench from a hole in the ground, and here's your chance to prove us right! 

Not to put pressure on you, but can you tell us what this device does?

A tire gauge is one of the must-haves in your glove compartment. It's cheap and easy to use — if the "low tire pressure" light comes to life on your dashboard, you can quickly determine the culprit. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle, by the way, can usually be found on a sticker on the side of the driver's door.


It's not that exciting, but you'll miss it if it runs out. What function does this fluid perform for your vehicle?

Windshield washer fluid is cheap and easy to find, but you'll miss it if it runs out when winter road salt is flying or after a particularly nasty bird strike. Special blends are available for winter and summer, along with varieties for getting rid of bug splatter. Or, you could always just go with everyone's favorite, "blue."


If you're a high-level DIYer, replacing these should be in your wheelhouse. What are they?

Brake pads are one of those items that will have to be changed several times during a car's life. If you have the know-how, the willingness and some pretty basic tools, you can do this yourself during an afternoon. There's no shame in taking it to the garage, however.


A garage staple, what does WD-40 do?

Sold in its iconic blue and yellow can, WD-40 is a solvent and rust remover. It's NOT a lubricating fluid. It will stop a squeak for a while, but it will attract dust and dirt over time. It's best use is for removing rust and other material, which should then be lubricated with something more suitable for the job. WD-40 can also be used to unstick gum, erase crayon marks and loosen stubborn Lego pieces.


This cloth shares its name with a European species of goat-antelope. What is its name?

A chamois, pronounced "sham-ee," is a cloth made by tanning and buffing a sheepskin until it's extremely soft and durable. It's great for drying and shining, in this case, the surfaces of your car. Synthetic chamois cloths are also available so that no sheep are harmed in the buffing of your vehicle.


The dipstick will tell you what?

It's a simple enough check, but not enough people do it on a regular basis. The dipstick is easy to find on almost any vehicle, and it will tell you with just a little effort the volume of oil in the engine as well as its condition — if it's bright and clean or dark and dirty. Take the minute or so necessary every now and then, and pay attention to your ol' pal, the dipstick.


About the size of a coin, what is the purpose of this tool?

The gap between the electrodes that the spark jumps between at the end of your spark plug must be set precisely to ensure that the engine timing remains true. The spark plug gap tool allows you to check that precise setting. The car's manual will let you know the specifics for your particular vehicle.


This device plugs in under your dash, but what does it do?

Your car's computer not only regulates what's going on under the hood, but through a special coding system it can also tell you or your mechanic what its sensors are reporting. The OBDII (On-Board Diagnostic II) scanner turns these codes into valuable messages that can save a lot of time.


This is small, but it can make a huge difference in your car's appearance. What is it?

Although paint is a major element of your car's appearance, it does serve a functional purpose. Paint protects the metal underneath from the elements, and defects in your paint job can lead to rust down the road. A small container of touch-up paint can quickly fill small chips from rocks and other road debris.


Used on trucks and trailers, what does this device help the driver see at a glance?

Installed when the lug nuts are tightened, this device allows truckers to make sure no nuts have come loose before starting their journey. A loose lug nut can lead to disaster on the road if not caught, so this device helps both the trucker and the cars around him or her.


When you see a tire with a green stem cap, what does that mean?

Tires with green stem caps have been filled with nitrogen instead of regular oxygen. The thought behind this is that nitrogen is less likely to migrate through the tire's surface than oxygen, so the tire's pressure is more stable and less likely to fluctuate with the temperature. The drawback is that it's harder and more expensive to fill tires with nitrogen.


If something stops working on your car, these are often the first things to check. So, what are you checking?

Just like your house, your car or truck uses fuses to guard against power surges or other occurrences that could harm electronic equipment. Vehicles generally have fuses both in the passenger compartment and around the engine, so if something stops working on your car, fuses are often the first thing to check.


Give us the name of this device, and you'll also tell us its function!

You need to change your oil regularly, and when you do, you also need to change out the filter. The filter on the average vehicle can hold almost a quart of oil, which is a large percentage of the total volume. Not changing the filter means that dirty oil is still in the system.


This device will give you valuable information about what system in your vehicle?

It's a good idea to test your coolant periodically, especially before the heat of summer or the cold of winter, to make sure your antifreeze is still up to the job. It's an easy procedure that can save you time and hassle when your coolant is put to the test.


For the professional or high-level DIYer, this is an important part of their garage's equipment. What does it do?

The jack that comes with your car or truck is useful in a pinch, but for planned maintenance or repairs that require the vehicle to be lifted, the right tool for the job is a floor jack. Instead of endlessly cranking the car's jack, a few pumps of the floor jack's lever get the vehicle off the ground.


You've seen them plenty of times, but what is the purpose of jumper cables?

You turn the key, and after a couple of feeble attempts at cranking the engine, your car lets you know that it's not going anywhere because the battery is dead. Getting a jump from another car can either help the battery regain its charge or at least allow you to get to a place where you can have a new battery installed.


It's the right tool for the job, but what job would that be?

It's easier to get a wrench on spark plugs in some vehicles than others, but no matter what vehicle you're working on, a spark plug wrench will make short work of the job — and you won't have to deal with the bane of many an auto mechanic: a broken spark plug.


Get a grip and tell us what this device is intended to do!

While changing the oil filter is a common maintenance chore, it can sometimes be a pain to get the thing loose for removal. Oil filter wrenches come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same purpose: to keep you from cursing so much every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.


Don't let the name put you off — this device could be your best friend in the garage. Can you name it?

When you need to get under a vehicle, you can either do the shimmy-shake on the cold, cold floor or lay back on a creeper and roll yourself where you need to be. A creeper doesn't cost much, and it's worth every penny if you ever find yourself in that position.


Where would this bulb go in your car?

In the old days, there weren't many options when it came to headlights. These days, however, headlight technology has grown beyond standard headlights to also include projector beams, halo, HID, LED, laser and other types. Consult your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends, although you'll probably have some choices.


In the right hands, this device can provide valuable information. What's it called?

A fault in an electrical circuit can be difficult to track down, but the best tool to use when something isn't making a connection is a multimeter. This gadget might look intimidating at first, but with a little research and practice on your part, it can become one of the most valuable tools in the garage.


What do you think this tool does around the garage?

If you regularly have to loosen and tighten bolts around the garage, an impact wrench can save you a lot of time and elbow grease. The tool uses compressed air or an electric motor to make quick work of lug nuts and other fastening nuts and bolts.


What do you think this device takes care of?

A good buffer can hide a lot of flaws, scratches and other imperfections in your vehicle's paint or chrome. Just be careful: if you don't know how to use this tool, you can actually leave more scratches and imperfections in your vehicle's appearance than you started with.


What is the purpose of these devices?

A good lug wrench is worth its weight in gold when you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or on the side of a busy road. Most wrenches of this type have different sizes on each end for various lug nuts, and the crossbar allows you to get leverage to loosen or tighten the nut.


The name of this device also says what it does. So, what's it called and what does it do?

All the air that goes into your engine for the internal combustion process first goes through the air filter, to keep particulates and debris out of the workings of your motor. It's an easy part to check on, and it's an easy part to replace when it gets dirty.


There's no substitute when you need one. What does this device do?

When a car won't start and you don't have another car available for a jump, a charger will be your best bet in getting the battery up to charge so it can do its job. It can take a while to get the battery back up to full strength (if the battery isn't old or damaged), so plan ahead.


It looks radioactive, but it performs a valuable service for your engine. What is this fluid?

Antifreeze generally comes in two varieties: Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) antifreeze, which is green; and Organic Acid Technology (OAT) antifreeze, which can be orange, red, pink or blue (and sometimes green). Do NOT mix them! When mixed, they can form a gel, and your coolant will not flow, meaning your engine will overheat.


Proper use of this device can save your life. What's it called?

Having a car jack or a floor jack is a great way to get your car up so you can get clearance, but if you're getting under the car, do NOT do it without setting up jack stands. In the event that the jack gives way, the stands will keep the car from crushing whatever is underneath — such as the mechanic.


What is the purpose of the yellow device in this picture?

Changing oil or topping it off can be a messy business, but a simple funnel will keep it where it's going and prevent it from spilling onto surfaces that will become very hot when the engine is put into motion. Don't use the same funnel in the kitchen, though.


It's got a lot of purposes in a garage, but what does this device do?

A good air compressor has a lot of purposes around the garage. It can not only fill tires (and basketballs, footballs, floaties and other items) but, if it's strong enough, it can also power impact tools and get some real work done.


What function does this device perform?

Over time, the refrigerant in your air conditioning system needs to be recharged. You can have your garage mechanic take care of this task, or, if you're a bit handy and want to do it yourself, you can buy a kit and give yourself the gift of cool car rides in the summer.


You're going nowhere without this fluid. What is it?

Motor oil is the lifeblood of your car's engine. Without oil to lubricate all the many, many moving parts, your engine would heat up from the friction and quickly seize, putting you in a bad mood and in need of a new engine. Check your manual to see how often your car's oil should be changed, based on mileage, and stick to that schedule.


There's no shame in this. What service does the thing hanging off the rearview mirror in this picture perform?

Hey, we're not judging. Sometimes a car doesn't have, well, that new car smell. If you can't (or won't) clean out the back seat at the moment, slapping one of these on the rearview mirror might help.


This device is used by mechanics and serious DIYers. What is it?

Timing is everything when it comes to optimal engine performance, and for those tuning a motor, a timing light is a great tool for getting the job done. Connected to the ignition circuit, the light strobes and lets the mechanic know if the timing is correct when it comes to the motion of the crankshaft or flywheel.


Why would you ever put chains on your tires?

When there's snow or ice (or mud) on the path ahead, tire chains can give you that extra bit of traction to get through the challenging conditions. The chains should go on all tires for maximum effect, but they need to go on the drive wheels to have any effect. They should never be used on bare pavement because such misuse can damage your tires, the road and the chains themselves.


What is the functional reason behind using wax on your car?

A good coat of wax will protect your car against scratches by allowing dirt to slide off rather than embed in the paint. A coat of wax lasts about three months, however, so reapplying every week isn't necessary. That it makes the car look pretty is a lovely side effect, though.


What are the uses of a microfiber mitt?

A good microfiber mitt will accomplish a lot of tasks when it comes to keeping your automotive baby looking its best. Microfiber cloths are often made of a blend of polyester and polyamide or nylon, and they are made so the fibers split, creating lots of porous fiber surfaces.


You know your car has them, but what do spark plugs actually do?

For your gasoline engine to work, there needs to be a spark to combust the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder to move the engine's pistons. As the name suggests, the spark plugs provide this element. On average, spark plugs need to be changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, depending on the plugs and your particular vehicle.


What is the use of these replaceable bulbs in your car?

The taillights of your car convey a lot of information for those behind you. They indicate the direction you intend to go, if you're braking or if you're backing up. In addition, they help others see the rear of your car at night. Periodically check to make sure that all of these bulbs are in good working order.


What does this medical-looking device do for your car?

Rocks and other debris can take their toll on your windshield, and a particularly aggressive bit of junk can make a chip in the windshield. If it's not too bad, you can sometimes use a chip repair kit to inject a bit of resin into the fault to keep it from spreading. If the windshield is badly damaged, however, go ahead and get it replaced for safety's sake.


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