Every car found on the road today is the impressive result of thousands of parts, many hours of hard work, years of research and consumer insights, all bundled into a travel system that moves everything from your in-laws to commerce as a whole. You’ve likely gotten behind the wheel before, but have you ever wondered about the journey that wheel went on to end up in your hands? The process of making cars is intricate and fascinating, and thankfully a fairly transparent bit of knowledge for the curious.
How Are Cars Made?
Making the Canvas
The body of the car is the literal framework of the entire vehicle. Once the parts of the frame are stamped or cut out from sheets metal, teams of welders or welding machines step in to turn an assembly of pieces into an entire frame. This frame not only has to withstand years of road vibrations while remaining intact, it also needs to hold each panel in the correct place to ensure aerodynamic performance and keep components like the engine securely fixed beneath the hood. A floor piece will also be added at this point in assembly, giving manufacturers an enclosed vehicle “shell” to work with.
Red, Blue, Silver?
The aesthetic touches of car design may begin with shape, but color is a very important touch of visual flair that helps cars sell. After the body is welded together, paint comes next. This paint is typically applied with nozzle-equipped spraying robots in a paint booth to minimize fumes and product waste. At this stage, clear coatings and protective top layers may also be added to reduce scratching and chipping when the car eventually makes its post-sale debut. The paint is left to cure and dry for a certain amount of time to avoid smudges or dust getting into the paint job.
Fill ‘Er Up
Now that the exterior and paint components are finished, manufacturing employees will install the engine – which is typically assembled separately prior to the body’s arrival – as well as the heating, cooling, ventilation and electrical systems in the car. Wires will be threaded and components like the exhaust will be added at this point, and the car will start to very closely resemble its finished product. Bearings, small spheres of polished metal that act as lubricating joints, will be fitted into bearing housing pieces in areas such as door hinges to allow smooth openings and closings. Especially when a high quality product like Statewide Bearing housings are used, these bearings provide a longer lifespan than traditional folded hinges, due to their rounded shape, and they are an essential part of modern cars.
The Finishing Touches
After the HVAC and electrical systems are in place, the final pieces – doors, wheels, windows, seating and any remaining interior components that are required will be added to the body of the car. At this point, the first of many quality control tests will be performed, assessing system performance, engine viability and more. As Jamie Page Deaton points out for HowStuffWorks, these tests will complement earlier, basic tests that were performed at each step in the assembly process. This double-checking, combined with full driving tests after the car leaves the assembly line but prior to delivery to sales outlets, help automotive companies deliver a consistent, reliable product to their customers.
So there you have it, the complete story on exactly how your car was made. From the proverbial “drawing board” to a fully drivable car, this is the journey an automobile takes. The assembly line might have been conceptualized and initially implemented by the Ford Motor Company, but modern science and design has narrowed it down to a sleek, efficient science.