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HELP - Books w/ car anatomy & engine/powertrain function overview for beginner?

I am a woman in the automotive supply industry trying to advance upwards in the career ladder. I have always been one to try to break female / male stereotypes (for example, I TIG weld MUCH better than I sew), but find that I’m at the disadvantage in discussions at work because I did not grow up “in the garage” with my father. I have a general understanding of how how a car works, but lack the detailed amount of chassis terminology and knowledge of engine and powertrain functions.

Can you recommend a good book(s)covering “how a car works” with “anatomy of a car” info? I’ve tried looking in bookstores and on-line, but only find car manuals or racing/hobby car books.

Your help would be greatly appreciated!



Auto Fundamentals
By Stockel, Stockel and Johanson
Published by Goodheart - Wilcox
ISBN 1-56637-138-4

Automotive Engines
By Crouse and Anglin
Published by MacMillan/McGraw Hill, (800) 338-3987
ISBN 0-02-801099-X

Complete Engine Performance and Diagnostics
By Robert Scharff & Editors of Motor Service
Published by Delmar Publishing / Thompson learning, (800) 477-3682
ISBN 0-8273-3579-2

Automotive Chassis Systems
By Thomas W. Birch
Published by Delmar Publishing / Thompson Learning, (800) 477-3682
ISBN 0-7668-0001-6

Fuel Systems and Emission Controls
Published by Chek-Chart Publication, (408) 739-2435
ISBN 9-781579-322496

Any bookstore can order them for you.


Some years ago I bought a Reader’s Digest Car Owner’s and Repair Manual. Forgot the exact title. It has colorful diagrams of the various systems that make the car work, such as cooling system, steering, powertrain, heating/cooling sytem, etc. I lend it out a lot to beginner car owners.

You will also find a good overview in any illustrated encyclopedia. Your library no doubt has one.

If you shop in a technical book store you will find such books as “The Automobile Engineer’s reference Book”, etc. These books are pricey, and you would best go to your local library and in the tech section you will find a variety of books dealing with car design and operation.

Any book by Jane’s, the British firm, on cars will have incredible information, but be prepared for quaint language, like bonnet (hood), boot (trunk), facia (dashboard) wings (fenders) etc.

Happy hunting!

Thanks much (and quick!).

Thanks to both of you. Found a bunch of these on Amazon for a decent used price. Will keep receipts for next year’s taxes…

Car Talk by Tom and his brother, or should I sat Tom and His brother or Tom and his Brother? I got one at Borders but you are free to get yours anywhere.

It might be too basic for you, but Car Repair for Dummies has tons of useful information about car operation, and, of course, repairs.

You want real problems, try to find the same thing in Spanish. I traveled all over Mexico City some weeks ago, looking for a book on how cars work, for a 23 year old niece who lives in a Third World village in the mountains, the sort of extremely intelligent young woman who is extremely curious about everything. She wanted to know how cars work. I found one on carb type motors printed in Spain, that wasn’t too bad, but little on the rest of a car. It was a used book store on Doncelles, not far from the Zocalo.

The minute her dad saw that book, he borrowed it! Heh, heh. She will get it back eventually, and it won’t hurt him either.

I did visit Autozone in McAllen, and was able to order Haynes for her dad’s 1976 Chevrolet pickup in Spanish, and that will be nice.

But, some years ago, my son wanted a book on cars, and we found a really expensive one which went into all parts of a car, in great detail. Highly suitable for a auto mechanic student. Fantastic book. But, it looks like there is nothing like that in Spanish.

What?! Nobody mentioned for a lot of great articles on anything under the moon! Alas!