Automobiles are the most common way to get around, but they’re not without downsides. The most obvious is that they produce pollution, cause automobile accidents and use a lot of fuel. There are also the economic costs of buying and maintaining a car. You may need to weigh these costs against the benefits of having a personal vehicle to decide whether owning an automobile is right for you.
The word “automobile” comes from the Latin ad vehiculum, meaning “vehicle for travel.” An automobile is a four-wheeled passenger vehicle designed to run primarily on roads and have seating for one to six people. It is powered by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Trucks, buses, limousines and vans are all automobiles as well.
Modern cars are complex technical systems incorporating subsystems with specific design functions, such as electric motors for propulsion and the ability to steer, brake and turn. Various materials are used for the body of the automobile, including high-strength plastics, new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals, and electronic computers. Some of these materials are produced by a special process called “autoclave curing.”
In the early 1900s, when automobiles were first widely available, they revolutionized American life. People could escape the confines of the city and visit relatives in rural areas. Farmers, factory workers and teachers switched from horses and trains to cars, and families began spending more time together as a result of the ease and speed of automobile transportation.
As the automobile industry grows, it supports more than 9.6 million American jobs. These include jobs in cutting-edge plants that assemble millions of vehicles, and in transportation infrastructure to export finished products across the country and around the world. The auto industry also provides a significant source of tax revenue.
An automobile is a complex system that requires expert engineering to develop and test, and that must meet strict safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles, including automobiles.
Having an automobile allows you to travel quickly and easily, even in rural areas where there’s little public transportation. You can shop for groceries or clothes, and you can visit friends in other towns and cities. In addition, the automobile is useful for work-related activities, such as making sales calls and attending meetings.
A car can help you feel more independent because it means you don’t have to rely on others for rides. And you can save time on your commute and on trips to work, school and other places. In addition, you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy, such as taking vacations and visiting with family members. However, there are some times when it’s not feasible or economical to own an automobile. If you can’t afford to buy a car, or if the purchase would cause you to exceed your budget for other items such as food, rent and health care, it may be better not to buy one.