Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that are used to transport people. They are usually propelled by an internal-combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems comprising thousands of component parts. They have been designed and developed for specific design functions and are driven by new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. Some have been influenced by the changing demands of the consumer, such as environmental concerns and safety issues.

During the 19th century the automobile came to represent an important force for change in American society. It was the backbone of a new consumer goods economy. It was the chief customer of the petroleum and steel industries, and it consumed many other ancillary industrial products. It also provided many jobs. Its very existence stimulated a host of new suburban communities. Its development also accelerated the growth of cities and paved the way for America to become a global power.

Before cars were invented moving a few miles away required hours of riding in a buggy over rough roads. Automobiles brought the freedom to travel at will and allowed more families to live in suburban areas.

The first automobiles were built in the late 1800s. The earliest had steam engines attached to wagons. Later the inventors of Gottlieb Daimler and Nikolaus Otto developed petrol or gas powered engines. By the end of the 19th century Germany was leading the world in car production. But it was Henry Ford who introduced the assembly line that made automobiles affordable for most Americans. His Model T was the most popular car ever.

In the postwar era, the automobile became the center of American cultural life. It was the symbol of the ‘good life’ and was a major contributor to the prosperity of the United States. However, it was a major source of air pollution and was draining the nation’s dwindling supply of oil.

Today, the automobile is still a significant force in American society. But it is no longer a force for progressive change. It is more of a status symbol than anything else. Most families have one or more cars and there is a growing concern about the effects of automobiles on the environment.

The word “automobile” is derived from the Greek term meaning “self-moving”. Most automobiles burn a volatile fuel to make an internal combustion engine (sometimes called a motor) run. This motor is connected to the wheels by a drive system which can be made to go faster or slower. There are many other systems in an automobile, such as brakes and lights. It is important to keep these systems in good working order. You should check them regularly, and change the oil and filter when necessary. An automobile has a dashboard which shows you how fast you are going, how much petrol is left and other information. Most vehicles are now computerized and some may even drive themselves in the future.