Inside the Car - Understanding the controls

The Vehicle

Legally, you’re now allowed to drive a car but first you need to know how the vehicle works such as – what does each of the control do and how and when to use them.

The controls are divided into 3 categories:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Auxiliary

Primary Controls

  • Accelerator
  • Brake
  • Clutch
  • Gear Stick
  • Handbrake
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelt
  • Steering Wheel

The accelerator, brake and clutch are the 3 pedals you can find from right to left. The left foot is exclusive for the clutch pedal while the right foot controls the accelerator or brake at a given period. The reason is because there is no instance that you will use both the brake and the accelerator at one time so your right foot is enough to control both.

Clutch:
This controls the movement of the vehicle off the road, change your gear or to put the vehicle to a stop. Its primary purpose is to either connect or disconnect the engine power to the road wheels. It is necessary so the transition from one gear to another is smooth and allow the vehicle to stop without the need for stalling. If you use the clutch, it will always decelerate fast and accelerate slowly.
Brake
The brake is a control you need to use gently. It is also ideal to brake early and easy rather than late and hard. You can use the brake without any need for the clutch but if you want to stop the vehicle then you need to use the clutch fully pressed down before you can put the vehicle to a complete stop. It is recommended that you should not brake and turn at the same time because this can result to unwanted reactions from the vehicle – either it may not turn as much as you wanted to or it may slow down as much. If you enter a bend or junction, it is ideal to use the brake in advance as you turn while you accelerate. However, there may be times when it is necessary to press the brakes extra hard when turning especially when meeting a hazard.
Accelerator
This control is otherwise known as the gas pedal since it can make the vehicle go faster by allowing more fuel to the engine. It should also be used gently and allow smooth gradual speeding not only for safety but to be more economical when it comes to fuel consumption.

The Cockpit Drill

On the first time that you enter your car, you will perform the cockpit drill. The very purpose of which is to make sure you’re comfortable enough as you sit down and be in an appropriate position to handle all controls of the car.

It is important that you perform the cockpit drill. The mnemonic DSSSM can help you perform the cockpit drill properly and in what order the checks must be done.

1. Door – It must always be closed.
2. Seat – It can be categorized into three:

2.1. Cushion: You should adjust the part of your seat so your left leg is slightly bended as your foot depresses the clutch fully.
2.2. Back: You should adjust it for your full comfort.
2.3. Head restraint: This is not a head-rest. This is designed to avoid whiplash injuries in cases of accidents. It must be adjusted in a manner that it goes directly behind the head.

3. Steering – It must be checked using both hands at the top of the wheel.
4. Seatbelt – Make sure that the strap flatly falls across your chest.
5. Mirrors – Check the mirrors and adjust it accordingly so it can give you an accurate field of vision on either side.

If you have finished performing the cockpit drill, you will notice that you’ll be sitting appropriately and comfortably so you can operate the car controls properly.

Secondary Controls

Ignition:
This is the control that can bring the car to life. Most ignition turns the key clockwise through three stages. Once you have the engine ignited, you can leave it alone. However, the car gear must be on neutral before you switch on the car.
Horn:
This is often found on the steering wheel and must be used exclusively to signal road users that you are on the road and must not be used for rebuking.
Indicators:
The main purpose of indicators is to signal road users of your specific intentions. Often, when the stick is at the left-hand side, down is for left while up is for right. When it is located at the right-hand side of the steering wheel, up is for left while down is for right. The reason is it is always relative to the direction where the steering wheel turns.
Wiper:
The wipers have different speeds according to how heavy the downpour is. Ensure that the windscreen washer is topped up so the windows remain clean while you drive.
Lights:
During dawn and dusk, dipped lights must be used as well as in built-up areas, encountering traffic and following another vehicle, during fog or heavy downpours. Other times, you can use the full beam.

Auxiliary Controls

Speedometer: This control lets you know how fast your car is traveling either in mph (miles per hour) or KPH (kilometers per hour) or perhaps both.

Rev Counter: This lets you know the number of revolutions per minute that the crankshaft is doing. The higher the rev counter is, the harder the engine is going to work. If your vehicle gets more than 2000 Revs, you should consider changing gears or gently ease on the accelerator to slow down and decrease the pressure on the vehicle.

Temperature Gauge: The temperature gauge will tell you how hot the engine actually is. If it gets into the red, there is a chance that it will overheat. You must stop the vehicle before it gets over the limit.

Fuel Gauge: This control tells you how much petrol your vehicle has left. If the fuel warning light goes on, you must go for refuel as quickly as you can. It usually comes on if your vehicle has 8 liters of petrol available but when this level goes far down the residue and dirt within the petrol tank may be carried throughout the engine and may cause trouble.