Basics of vehicle construction

I just started a new game, and found a semi truck outside my bunker, with some dead humans carrying enough coke for an army, and lots of useful stuff.
The semi truck even has a bed in it.
When I enter the vehicle, and press a direction button, it says ‘the engine makes a sneezing sound’

How do I interact with a vehicle?
How can I see what’s missing?
I tried looking at all commands in the ingame help, but that does not help me.

I started as a mechanic, so I really want to make use of this nice opportunity and survive for more than 5 minutes for a change.

Can anyone give me a quick tutorial on vehicles?

Hit E on any part of the vehicle, here you can see the stats from it and move the tile selector around. Check for an engine, if the engine is black it won’t work (not racism) and is broken. Also check the fuel gauge, if you have bottles of fuel in your inventory you can move the selector over the fueltank and refuel the vehicle (if the tank isn’t broken).

Also, if next to a gasoline pump. Hit e on it and select pump gas and it should refill the vehicles fueltank.
(Read in a car GPS voice for maximum learning)

How do I move the selector from [board] to gasoline tank?

You need to select an action before you can use the arrow keys to move the cursor. Press "r"epair or rem"o"ve first.

Re"f"illing an item checks the tile for a usable container automatically.

Ah okay.
Thanks for your quick replies

I haven’t peeked in the Cataclysm:DDA wiki pages, but the basics are fairly simple.
You have a range of combustion engines, electric ones and those that use supermodern age fuel.
You can use steel to build your car. Every car needs a chasis, and some plating. Simple choice would be frames and boards; doors the addition to the picture.
Wheels are to be cared for the most. Easily destroyed but requiring good skill to be repaired. Once they’re toast you’ll need a jack (correct me if I’m wrong) and a wrench.
You’ll want to cover your vehicle; ups and sides. That’s the roof (some similarity to boards) and windshields/windows. Finding sheets of glass is a worse option comparing to disassembling some vehicles already around you, so pay attention. Also, you want a trunk? More steel.
Can you handle your gasoline? Fill a jug, a jerrycan or even a canteen and hurry back. Alright, you’ll need a fuel tank. And that’s more steel!
Be it, you’ll are close to wrapping up. But still you need some finishing. Once you’re skilled, all needed options for the components required and mentioned here will appear. There is a muffler or two on the road, a seat still in that chasis by every other house and car controls; care to explore a town and find 'em all in the chop shop, or the Garage as found on Map™.
Some of the tools you’ll might need are the welder, some goggles that come with it and of course, a hacksaw.
Tip Bust some zombie heads to collect working tools.

Your Vehicle Bible :

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The semi truck I found has all parts it needs. Some are damaged (light red means damaged, right?), but none are grey / missing.
Except the windshields, which have just been pulped by the hordes of fungal zombies spawning around me.
I guess it only needs fuel.

I suppose the sneezing sound the engine made while trying to move the car spawned those fungal zombies.
Such a perfect start, and I think I ruined it.

I still live though. I spent my day killing fungal zombies on the south entrance of the car (thank the gods I found that combat knife, and started with a shock defense bionic that runs on alcohol.)

The door that leads to the semi-truck’s sleeping cabin seems zombie proof. I’ve spent some time reading there with the door closed, in between fights, with the fungals right outside the truck.
If only the car would run on alcohol.
I drag their corpses to the north side of the car.
I’ve always hated it when corpses litter my car. Must drag them out.

Don’t drag them, butcher them. It’s a messy job, but the experience will teach you a few things, and later you could make stuff with their meat.