If you want to be a grease monkey (and who doesn’t?), you’ll need to start by identifying the insides of your car and understanding which part does what. Here’s a beginner’s guide:
Converts mechanical energy into electricity; recharges the battery and powers the electronic system.
What if it breaks? Battery stops charging, eventually goes dead.
Fix yourself? Fairly easy on most vehicles; just remove, then bolt in new alternator and adjust belt tension.
Transmits force of combustion to the driveshaft. In other words, makes car go.
What if it breaks? Engine makes horrible screeching noise, eventually seizes.
Fix yourself? Major surgery; requires all manner of tools and long hours.
Part of, yes, the distributor, which, yes, distributes electricity in timed intervals to the spark plugs to make them spark.
What if it breaks? Engine misfires, runs rough.
Fix yourself? Easy as pie— just make sure to connect wires in right order.