The Mechanics of Cars: Simple Machines in Automobiles | YourMechanic Advice

The Mechanics of Cars: Simple Machines in Automobiles

Simple machines are single, mechanical devices that help improve the daily life of humans by allowing them to work faster, easier, and more efficiently. Simple machines are considered to be the basic mechanisms that all complex machines are composed of. The 6 basic types of simple machines are: pulley, screw, inclined plane, wheel and axle, edge, and lever. When people perform work, such as applying force to move heavy objects, simple machines makes these common tasks easier. When more than one simple machine work together, they create a compound machine. An example of this would be a pulley system, consisting of two or more pulleys. When a machine is made up of many simple and compound machines, they create a complex machine. A perfect example of a complex machine is an automobile. Automobiles contain many stand alone simple machines - the steering wheel consists of the wheel and axle, while the shifting in automatic cars is controlled by levers.

Pulley

  • Simple Machines: The Pulley - A very basic overview of the pulley, complete with hand drawn cartoons to show examples.
  • Pulleys: A Physical Science Activity - An interactive classroom lesson plan that requires two broomsticks and one meter of rope do demonstrate how a pulley works.
  • What is a Pulley - What this video from MocomiKids, that gives a wonderful overview of how a pulley makes common tasks easier.
  • Simple Machines and the Pulley - A student from Boston University put together this wonderful guide of all simple machines. The page features a what, why, and fun facts about the pulley.
  • Powerful Pulleys Activity Template - This lesson plan, geared towards 3rd and 4th graders, takes about 40 minutes to complete. (Resources are required to demonstrate this lesson.)

Wheels and Axles

  • Dirtmeister's Science Reporters: The Wheel and Axle - Scholastic Inc. provides a wonderful overview of what a wheel and axle is, and how we use them in daily life.
  • Examples of Wheels and Axles - MiKids provides tons of pictures of wheels and axles in every day objects, as well as a quick quiz to see if kids fully understand what this simple machine is.
  • Simple Machines Guide (PDF) - This guide by Terri Wakild provides an activity for making and testing a wheel and axle machine. Geared toward 5th graders, it also has a fantastic vocabulary guide.
  • Putting the "Simple" in Simple Machines (PDF) - Geared towards 2nd and 3rd grades, this guide offers teaching activities to show students how pulleys and wheels and axles work together.
  • Simply Amazing - The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute put together this curriculum for 6th-graders to define and demonstrate simple machines, including the wheel and axle.

Lever

  • Levers in Games: Pinball Wizard - create your own lever simple machine with this fun and interactive pinball lesson plan! Parents and children alike will love making this simple machine.
  • Classroom Activities: Lever Lift - Nova Teachers provide this classroom activity to educate kids about levers. Building a brick-and-skewer lever, materials are required.
  • Pop Fly Challenge (PDF) - A more advanced lesson plan, this is designed to show how levers are everywhere
  • First Class Levers - MnSTEP Teaching Activities provides this lesson plan that is geared towards 4th and 5th graders. Learn about levers with this course overview for hands-on learning activities.
  • Elementary Exploration: Lever (PDF) - This simple experiment is meant to show elementary school-aged kids just how levers work. Materials needed include two pencils, three pennies, tape, and a ruler.

Inclined Plane

  • The Ramp or Inclined Plane - Did you know a ramp is an inclined plane? Work with a class partner to list as many inclined planes as you can.
  • The Ramp - Download this interactive software and follow the instructions to test the effectiveness of the inclined plane with household objects.
  • Inclined Plane (PDF) - Using rice, a rubber band, ruler, masking tape, three books, yardstick, sock and string, this teacher's guide teaches students how an inclined plane moves materials.
  • Acceleration Lab Teacher's Guide - A more advanced lesson plan to teach students about inclined planes and the relationship between plane angle and acceleration.
  • Simple Matchings Worksheet (PDF) - This lesson plan covers all simple machines, and forces students to recognize which simple machines are in every day life by providing images.

Screws

  • Machines in Motion (PDF) - Use this hands on guide to describe the purpose of screws. The lesson plan, focused on Leonardo Da Vinci's discoveries, suggests several ways for students to experiment with screws.
  • Second Grade Work & Simple Machines Unit - This five-day lesson plan for second graders, offers activities for teaching students about simple machines, including a scavenger hunt.
  • 4th Grade Simple Machines Stations (PDF) - Teach 4th grade students about screws at a screw station, complete with materials that enable experimentation and testing.
  • The Screw - Providing answers to what it is, why do we use it, and fun facts, this is a terrific overview of the screw for all ages!
  • What is a Screw? - Watch this quick video on an overview of the screw and how it affects other machines.

Compound Machines

  • Simple Machines and Compound Machines - Follow this webquest to explore how more than one simple machine will create a compound machine. Provides links to addition resources.
  • School Toolbox: Simple Machines Vs. Compound Machines - Learn the difference between both machines and how they are both used in everyday life.
  • About Compound Machines - This lesson plan reinforces the concepts of how simple machines make up compound machines by breaking down everyday objects and pointing out all of the simple machines within.
  • What is a Compound Machine? - Study.com provides an excellent overview of compound machines, complete with videos, quizzes and additional learning materials.
  • Compound Machines - Geared at 8th grade students, this website teaches students to understand the advantage of compound machines, and how simple machines provide the working foundation.

Wedge

  • The Wedge and Simple Machines - Boston University provides information on what a wedge is, why we use it, and other fun facts!
  • The Incline or Wedge - Giving a more technical background of the wedge (including the mathematical information on required force) this overview is recommended for older students.
  • Simple Machines: The Wedge - EdHelper provides reading information (suggested for grades 3-5) all about the wedge. (Note: Must sign up for full lesson plan, but is a great website for all educators.)
  • Kitchen Gadgets Galore - This lesson plan presents common kitchen gadgets as simple machines, including the wedge. Great for exemplifying how simple machines are in everyday objects.
  • The Inclined Plane - (Another common name for the wedge) This quick definition of what a wedge is and how it affects everyday life will be sure to educate students of all ages.

Other Resources

  • Simple Machines In Cars And Tractors - Load this video presentation to learn about how many simple machines are in these common automobiles.
  • Work and Simple Machines -- Activities for Teachers - Broken down into an introduction, basic concepts, applications and additional activities, this is a great teaching guide with tons of resources.
  • Be Inventive - This hands on activity gives students the chance to design and build simple machines that solve problems posed in the instructions.
  • Moving Along with Simple Machines - Targeted grade level is 2-3, this is an exciting four week project covering all six simple machines in depth.
  • Simple Machines Used in History - This interactive lesson plan is geared toward grades 3-6. Approximately taking one hour, students use images from the Library of Congress to observe and identify simple machines, as well as have group discussions with their classmates.
  • The Facts About Simple Machines - Giving a brief history of how the want and need for simple machines came about, this easy to read overciew gives practival examples of all six simple machines!

Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating

(21,124)

Rating Summary
19,824
839
175
85
201
19,824
839
175
85
201

Mazyar

7 years of experience
315 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Mitsubishi Galant - Oil Change - Snellville, Georgia
Marvelous job done by Mazyar on my car. He was friendly and does not mind if you watch him perform the job. He will even show you what he is doing and how. He too will show you if he finds a problem with the vehicle so you can see for yourself. I say this because he was only supposed to change the oil and filter but I told him about a noise I keep hearing in the suspension. He inspected the suspension while he was underneath the car and came to find out it was the stabilizer bar links. He was patient at finding the issue and never rushed through it just because it was not part of the service. This shows me that he indeed cares about the customer and its vehicle and does not mind doing extra, as long as the customer is satisfied with his work and and all questions are answered. I will sure be using him for future services.
Porsche 911 - Oil Change - Douglasville, Georgia
Mazyars what can I say the consummate professional. He has worked on my 2001 911 turbo several times. He is awesome and you can tell he enjoys what he does. Very very satisfied. Will call on him anytime to work on my vehicles.

Nazareth

26 years of experience
181 reviews
Nazareth
26 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Oil Change - Tujunga, California
Nazareth was prompt, friendly and efficient. He had an earlier cancellation and called to offer an earlier appointment. He is very knowledgeable and wiling to take the time to explain things in detail with no jargon. He offered a detailed explanation of my car's condition and additional repair items required. I'm a former auto mechanic from the 1970's and I can say that I'm very pleased with the service Nazareth provided.

Chuck

9 years of experience
216 reviews
Chuck
9 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala - Oil Change - Dallas, Texas
Chuck did a good job! He showed up about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled on a Thanksgiving and completed the full service oil change within one hour. Great communication skills as well .

Eduardo

18 years of experience
426 reviews
Eduardo
18 years of experience
BMW 740i - Oil Change - Houston, Texas
Eduardo is always very professional and prompt! He does an awesome job with every service request to my vehicle. I will trust him with all my required repairs and services.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Replace a Wheel Speed Sensor
A car wheel speed sensor helps control the anti-lock brake system by determining if a wheel is moving at a different speed than the other wheels.
How to Buy Good Quality Rims
Keeping Keeping your vehicle wheeling along requires more than just tires – you also need rims; and not necessarily some super-slick shiny monster rims, either. The size of the wheels and the rims are important and relate directly to how...
How to Replace a Front Axle Engagement Switch on Most Cars
The switch that engages the front axle fails when it gets stuck, does not activate the four-wheel drive, or is difficult to engage.

Related questions

Loud steering that only makes noise when I turn

Noises can be annoying and bothersome. Diagnosing a noise is a hands on job. With so many items involved in driving and turning, it is hard to say what the specific cause could be. The possible items involved are the...

When shifting, loud bang-type noise

Hi there. A faulty motor mount could cause this type of noise on your 2002 Mercedes Benz E430. Another thing to consider is a center driveshaft bearing assembly. It may shift upward in its housing if the rubber bearing mount...

Can you drive on 3 lug nuts

Hey there, thanks for writing in. All of the lug nuts are necessary. Leaving even one off could result in warping of the brake rotors or drums, necessitating their replacement. If two are left off that puts an excess load...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com