How Much Do You Remember From Auto Shop Class?


By: Steven Symes

7 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Dust off your old textbook, grab your torque wrench, and get ready to see how much you remember from auto shop way back in high school. Can you open the hood of a car and immediately find your way around the different parts? Do you know the difference between SAE and metric? Were you the teacher's pet, or were you the screw-up who sat in the back of the class? Now is the time to gauge just how much information you retained. 

Auto shop might have felt like a breath of fresh air for some people. Instead of writing equations on the board or diagramming sentences, you got to roll up your sleeves and wrench at school. Aside from PE and art, it's about the only time you got to work with your hands at school. If taken properly, the class would also arm you with a fair amount of basic automotive knowledge. Remembering what you learned can save you serious bucks by allowing you to do preventative maintenance on your car, and knowing when a mechanic is trying to pull a fast one. 

See just how much you remember from auto shop and take the quiz now! 

Which way do you turn a screw or bolt to tighten it?

The righty-tighty and lefty-loosie rhyme has helped countless mechanics and amateurs remember which way to turn a screw or bolt. Alternatively, you can think of clockwise as tightening and counterclockwise was counter-tightening or loosening something.


How do you choose oil viscosity for your car's engine?

Oil viscosity is critical to properly protecting the different components of your car's engine. It is literally a measure of the oil's resistance to flow in different temperatures, so you must choose one that flows enough but not too much, or serious engine damage may be the result.


How can you measure how close brake pads are to being worn out?

Brake pads don't wear down at the same rate, so you can't say for sure that after a certain amount of time or mileage they need to be changed out, thanks to driving style differences, among other things. That's why mechanics use a brake thickness gauge, which is a series of steel strips representing different thicknesses, so you get a fairly accurate measurement.


Which of the following is a sign a radiator hose is about to fail?

When you first remove a radiator hose from its package, the rubber is already beginning to break down, thanks to the exposure to oxygen. What makes the material wear out faster is heat, which is what the hoses deal with constantly. If the hoses are dry or crunchy to the touch, have cracks, or are deformed in any way, the best thing to do is to swap them out immediately.


If a car's heater blows cold air after the engine's been running for a while, what's the most obvious reason?

As the hot coolant flows out of your engine, it hits a little compartment called the heater core. Located usually inside your car's dash, it looks like a miniature radiator. When you switch on the heater, fans blow the heat from that compartment through the vents and into the cabin. If your coolant level is too low, the fluid won't flow into the heater core, but topping off the coolant will fix the problem.


When removing the wheels from a car, what do you do before jacking it up?

If you try to initially loosen the lug nuts with the car jacked up, you're either going to find loosening them is too difficult, or you'll exert so much force you'll cause the jack to tip. You don't need to loosen the lug nuts too much, but you should turn them all a few times with the tires on the ground.


What makes old plastic headlight lenses look clouded?

As plastic ages and sits in UV light, it oxidizes and isn't as clear as before. Eventually, an older car's headlights aren't nearly as bright as before. You can fix this problem with a kit from the store, or some people use things like toothpaste to strip off that old layer of plastic, returning the lenses to their former glory.


If the center of a tire's tread is worn down more than the rest, what does that mean?

You can tell much about how a car's been treated simply through the tread wear. People who put too much air in the tires will wear out the center of the tread too quickly, because the tires will be pumped up so much they only ride on the middle of the tread. Tires that are under-inflated have the opposite problem, with the sides of the tread wearing down faster.


Before you screw a new oil filter into place, what should you put on it?

Spreading just a little bit of clean oil on the gasket that surrounds the opening on an oil filter is a great preventative measure to take. It keeps the gasket from leaking, sticking to the metal surface, or cracking over time, which would all cause serious problems.


Which parts of a battery are most critical to keep free of corrosion and debris?

Terminals covered with corrosion or debris can be the cause of your engine not starting, or struggling to start. You should keep the terminals as clean as possible. A wire brush is good for this job, or your can invest in a terminal brush that fits around the terminals perfectly, speeding up the process.


What specialized tool do you need to remove the spark plugs from your engine?

Of course you'll need a socket wrench as well for the job, plus likely a breaker bar, since spark plugs can be difficult to budge. When you install new spark plugs, apply some lubricant to them first, making the removal process in the future easier.


When jacking up a car, where should you place the jack?

All cars have jack points, which are often labeled on the chassis, and are also pointed out in the owner's manual. You can also use a jack on a differential cover, if you're placing jack stands under the jack points.


If a car's exhaust system is drooping or hanging down, what's the most likely cause?

Modern cars have rubber hangers to which the hooks on your exhaust system attach. These hangers help to isolate exhaust vibrations from the chassis, but the rubber wears out over time. Fortunately, replacing worn hangers is a quick and easy process.


When jump starting a car with cables, what's the correct setup?

Many, many people get this setup wrong. While something bad might not happen, improperly hooking up the jumper cables can cause a serious problem, including a power surge in one of the vehicles, or one of the batteries exploding, which might involve serious injuries.


What's the easiest way to test if a car's shocks need to be replaced?

While not a perfect test, pressing on one corner of the vehicle will compress the shock, and then you can see how it rebounds. If the car bounces up and down, instead of bouncing up and down just once, likely the shocks need to be replaced.


What device keeps wheels on the ground from rolling as you jack up the other end?

Wheel chocks are shaped like wedges and have tread on the side that touches the tires. The point is to keep the wheels from rolling even one millimeter, since that would present a major safety problem for anyone working under a car supported by a pair of jack stands.


Which of the following is a potential cause of exhaust that's always white?

White exhaust is normal when an engine is running cold, but once it warms up all the way it should go away. If not, the problem could be that coolant is making its way into the cylinders through a blown head gasket or cracked block/head.


What's the most accurate way to check tire tread depth?

Some people will use a penny or a quarter to test the depth of tire tread, but those methods only tell when the tread is low enough that it needs to be replaced. A depth gauge gives you an accurate read of exactly how much tread is left on any tire.


How do you the keep fenders and the front bumper of a car from being scratched while you work under the hood?

Hardware stores and auto parts shops carry a variety of covers for a car's fenders and front bumper area, designed to keep tools and components from scratching up the paint, chrome, etc. Investing in these can save you from having to repair damage later.


What does it mean to measure drivebelt deflection?

Belts can stretch out over time, sometimes becoming thinner from cracks in the material, and it poses a serious problem. The belt could slip off the pulleys, causing a variety of problems, including the possibility of catastrophic engine damage.


Which of the following isn't a way to loosen a stuck bolt?

All the the other methods can help loosen a bolt that won't budge. You can use other means, like a breaker bar, applying heat to the bolt, and even use a tap and die set for extreme situations, giving you plenty of options.


How do you tighten bolts to specification?

A torque wrench is the most common method of tightening bolts to specification. Using one is simple, although some vary in their exact operation, due to differing designs.


What can you use to see if the coolant in a car is still effective?

Instead of waiting for problems with the engine overheating to arise, you can test the coolant in any car with this simple tool. An antifreeze tester not only guards against overheating, but also prevents the coolant from freezing in the winter.


Which of the following isn't a factor that would make changing a car's air filter more often necessary?

In general, you should follow the schedule laid out by the manufacturer in the owner's manual for how often you should swap out the air intake filter. A clogged air filter hurts performance, including fuel economy, so you get less out of your vehicle.


Before you install spark plugs, what should you change on them?

While spark plugs are shipped with a gap, that doesn't mean they match the specification from your car's manufacturer. You will need a gap tool to properly set the gap for each spark plug.


Before you flush a coolant system, what do you need to do?

Cooling systems can become incredibly hot over time, and that's dangerous if you need to flush the system. If that's the case, allow your car to sit for a few hours. Otherwise, you risk seriously burning yourself.


Which of the following is a sign that a car's alternator is failing?

While hard starts or even needing a jump could point to alternator failure, that could just as easily be from a bad battery or other issues. But if you experience problems with electrical power while the car is running, it usually means the alternator is struggling.


Not tightening the gas cap completely before starting up a car's engine can result in what?

You should turn the gas cap until it clicks at least once, and on some car models more times, and it doesn't hurt to tug on the cap to ensure it's on tightly. Not only does a loose gas cap cause this problem, it can cause the gas to evaporate from the tank, wasting some of what you buy.


Which of the following isn't something that affects a car's alignment?

Wheel alignment is a deceptively complex subject. What you should understand is that it takes specialized tools to measure it, because you can't see if a car is out of alignment or not. Improper alignment can lead to uneven tire wear, diminished handling, and problems with suspension components.


Which of the following could signal you need to bleed the brakes on your car?

Bleeding the brakes is something you should do whenever the brake pedal feels differently. Air and even moisture in the brake lines will make it so you need to press on the brake pedal more to slow or stop the car, and that is a safety issue you must address.


Besides the blades being worn, what else could cause wiper blades to leave streaks on a car's windshield?

Too often, people just assume streaks left by their windshield wipers means the blades need to be changed out. The fact is they might just be dirty and a simple cleaning will correct the problem, saving you some money.


If the horn suddenly stops working on a car, what is the first thing you should check?

Usually a blown fuse is the culprit, but there are other potential causes. Loose wiring connections might be the cause, or the horn itself might have failed, which would make installing a new one necessary.


What benefit do you get from rotating your car's tires?

You might not realize it, but the front and rear tires don't wear evenly on a car. The front tires turn with the wheels and undergo some other forces. On top of that, sometimes the wear is uneven between the two sides of the car. Rotating the tires evens this out, so your tires last longer.


What is an acceptable way to test out your car's parking brake?

You need a hill that the car will roll down while the transmission is in neutral. When you pull on the parking brake, the car should stop rolling immediately. Test this with the car going backward and forward, ensuring the parking brake is adjusted properly.


If your car's front wheels are toe-in, what does that mean?

You have to look at a car from the bottom or top to see toe-in and toe-out accurate, which are measurements of how the wheels sit in relation to the line that runs down the exact center of the vehicle. Changing the toe of a vehicle will alter how it handles in turns.


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