The instruments and usual controls on the panel in the driving compartment. The good driver early familiarizes himself with the position of these controls and instruments and by regarding their information learns to give his car proper care. Some of the points to be kept in mind with reference to these are mentioned here. Many other suggestions will be brought out in study and class discussion. Other instruments appear on other car panels.
Cars with automatic shifts sometimes incorporate a freewheeling device which is engaged momentarily when an automatic shift is being made. If a car is equipped with a manual-control freewheeling device, it is a good plan to keep it out of the freewheeling position for mountain driving or on wet streets, and locked out when the car is parked, especially on any grade where the added safety of gear engagement is used to hold the car.
If a manual control of the carburetor choke is provided, use it sparingly and always return it to the "in" position as soon as the engine is warm enough to continue operating. Learn the positions of the light switch and the control of the dimmer switch on the floor for passing. Gasoline gauges usually are of the electric type and give approximate information on the amount of fuel in the tank.
The oil gauge is possibly the most important instrument on the instrument panel. Its failure to operate usually indicates incipient trouble which may be avoided if its warning is heeded. The speedometer is placed immediately in the line of vision of the driver and serves to help regulate his driving habits.
A good driver holds his speed to an even, steady pace, which may be faster or slower, according to his own desires, the condition of the highway, and regulatory speed laws. Usually a throttle control is provided on the instrument panel. It is used rarely to control the engine speed when driving. The ammeter should be observed frequently in order to know whether the generator and charging circuits are in working order. The charging rate frequently is lower at higher engine speed. If the generator fails to charge when driving, this fact is indicated by the ammeter hand showing on the discharge side.
Another important instrument is the engine temperature indicator. It should be observed regularly. If the temperature rises to 200 deg. Fahrenheit or more, the danger point has been reached.
Other controls and instruments which appear on the instrument panel, are the parking brake lever, usually at the lower left-hand corner ; the ignition switch, which usually is controlled by a key ; the defroster control, which usually is a small switch with rheostat enclosed ; a clock, which usually is mounted in connection with the glove-box door ; a cigar lighter, and one or more ash trays.
The popular position for mounting the car radio generally is the central position of the instrument panel. Push-button control is an aid to the driver, as it is more nearly automatic and requires less time.
The horn switch may be in the form of a ring or centre control on the steering wheel. The gearshift control is mounted on the steering column beneath the steering wheel. The direction signal may be on either side of the steering column beneath the wheel. The fresh-air control may be in connection with the heating system. The cowl-ventilator control lever usually is mounted on the back of the instrument panel.
A driving compartment with the usual controls and instruments is illustrated in Figure 35. Class study and discussion should develop knowledge of names, locations, and uses of the instruments.