Car Jargon Explained

Online Loans

January 4, 2021

“Your AWD SUV’s OEM CVT needs replacing”. Car words often sound like some sort of code.

OnlineLoans goes over some car words and explains their meaning.

Common Confusing Car Words

4WD – The vehicle has four powered wheels.

4×4 – The vehicle has four wheels and each of the four is powered. Comparable to a 4×2 where the vehicle has four wheels but only two of them are powered.
(4WD Vs 4×4: Most people use these interchangeably)

AWD – Depending on the road surface and traction needed, the vehicle powers two or all four wheels. Sensors determine whether engine power is needed for all four wheels.

BHP – Brake horsepower. It’s the usable horsepower the vehicle generates. BHP takes power loss from friction into consideration.

Carbon Fibre – A strong but very lightweight material used to make some car parts, especially on performance cars.

Catalytic Converter – Usually called a ‘cat’, this is part of an exhaust system that induces chemical reactions that convert an engine’s exhaust emissions into less harmful products. They are mandatory.

CVT – Continuously variable transmission. A type of automatic transmission that changes through an ‘unending’ range of gear ratios.

Drive Train – The parts of a car that deliver power to the car’s wheels. For example, manual, automatic transmission and the parts needed for F/RWD, AWD and 4WD. The engine is not included in the drivetrain.

EV – Electric Vehicle, like a Tesla.

FWD – Front Wheel Drive. Vehicles that have power through their front wheels.

Hypercar – A race-ready performance car built for (and priced for) maximum acceleration, speed and handling.

Kerb Weight – The weight of a vehicle with a full tank of fuel but without passengers, cargo or accessories.

LED – Light Emitting Diode. These aren’t automotive specific, but they are often used in car headlights and can be 80% more efficient than older style headlights.

MSRP – Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price. The price that the manufacturer suggests the vehicle should be listed at.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer. Parts made by the vehicle manufacturer, not generic or third-party brands.

Overhaul – To thoroughly take apart, check and inspect all parts of an engine and replace worn or damaged parts.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. These vehicles can be recharged by plugging into a power outlet or by their engine’s generator. They use both a small petrol engine and an electric motor.

Paddle Shift – These are gear shifters located at the back of a steering wheel. The driver can shift up and down using the paddle shifters.

RWD – Rear Wheel Drive. The vehicle is powered by the rear wheels.

SUV – Sports Utility Vehicle.

Timing Chain – These can be a rubber belt too. They are responsible for an engine ‘running like clockwork’ by synchronising the valves and other engine components.

Torque – The force at which an engine can rotate. Often, torque is seen as power or ‘strength’ of an engine and horsepower is how quickly that power can be delivered.

VIN – Vehicle Identification Number. This number is unique to individual vehicles. It can indicate the manufacturer, country where the vehicle was built, which plant, model year and the unique serial number.

Car Words Conclusion

The auto industry seems to have its own language and with the list above, you’ll soon be in the know. As more unique innovations and features become standard, so do the words to describe them.

We’ve only covered a few here and if your owner’s manual has specific words and acronyms, have a look in the glossary.

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