The glossary of automotive jargons

Published On  January 27, 2015 07:39 PM By Firdaus Shaikh at

Very often while buying a new car or while reading reviews we’re bombarded with jargons like VVT, adaptive cruise control, traction control etc. Quite often we tend to skip them for we may not necessarily understand what these terms mean. Googling them is one option to understand their meaning and purpose, but how many terms will you Google at once? We bring to you a list of automotive jargons used commonly in today’s times, to help you understand automotives better. This list may look exhaustive to you, but trust us, it is like a mini-skirt – long enough to cover everything and short enough to keep you attention.  We hope after going through this list you’ll feel confident about knowing these terms and it is our way of contributing to your knowledge. So here it goes.

Also Read: Everything to know about Barack Obama's armoured Cadillac Limousine 'The Beast'

ABS: Antilock braking system. A computer-controlled system that prevents brakes from locking up and tires from skidding during hard braking.

Adaptive Cruise Control: A laser- or radar-sensing cruise control system that causes a vehicle to automatically slow or stop in order to avoid front-end collisions.

Adaptive headlights: Headlights that turn as the driver turns the steering wheel, for the purpose of improving illumination in the direction of the turn.

Adjustable seats: Accelerator and brake pedals that can be moved closer to or further away from the driver's seat.

Adjustable suspension: A suspension that offers driver-selectable damper (and sometimes spring) firmness settings to suit varying conditions and personal preferences.

Air conditioning filter: A device that removes contaminants from external air entering the ventilation system.

Airbag deactivation: A system that uses sensors in a vehicle's front passenger seat to determine whether to activate that seat's front airbag, based on whether it detects the presence of an individual of sufficient weight.

Angle of approach: The steepest angle of inclined roadway onto which a vehicle can be driven from a level roadway without the vehicles forward overhang making contact with the inclined surface.

Angle of departure: The steepest angle of inclined roadway from which a vehicle can be driven onto a level roadway without the vehicles rear overhang making contact with the inclined surface.

Automatic transmission: A transmission that uses a torque converter, planetary gearset and clutches or bands to automatically change a vehicles gears.

Brake lining: High-friction, heat-resistant material that is attached to the brake shoes in a rear drum brake system

Ball joints: Movable joints in the steering linkage and suspension system of a vehicle that permit rotating movement in any direction between the parts that are joined.

Body: The outer panels that shroud the mechanical and electrical workings of a vehicle.

Bore: The diameter, in inches, of the cylinders in the vehicles engine

Brake fluid: The fluid used in the hydraulic brake system.

Brake Linings: High-friction, heat-resistant material that is attached to the brake shoes in a rear drum brake system.

Brake pads: High-friction material attached to a metal backing plate.

Brake pedal: A device used to control a vehicles brakes

Brake Assist: A system that monitors the swiftness of a driver's brake pedal application and applies additional braking force if it determines a that panic stop is occurring

Bumpers: A supplemental device designed to protect a vehicles frame and/or body from collision damage.

Carbon footprint: A measure of a vehicles total consumption of natural resources weighed against the Earths ability to regenerate those resources.

arburetor: A device used on older internal combustion gasoline engines that is mounted on the engines intake manifold and supplies fuel to the engine.

Centre of gravity: A hypothetical point at which all of the mass of an object acts as if it were concentrated. For a vehicle, the lower the center of gravity the less likely the vehicle will be to roll over when it is destabilized.

Climate control: The computer-controlled regulation of heating and air conditioning systems to accommodate a user-specified temperature setting.

Climate-controlled seats: Seats that have internal heating and cooling mechanisms.

Clutch fluid: The liquid used in a hydraulic clutch system that helps disengage the clutch from the flywheel

Collapsible steering column: A steering column that collapses in the event of a hard frontal impact to reduce the risk of injury to the driver.

Coolant: Also known as "antifreeze." A mixture of water and ethylene glycol that has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than plain water.

Cornering brake control: A feature of some antilock brake systems that proportions and applies brake force in order to prevent oversteer.

Cornering lights: A pair of white driving lights located at the two front corners of a vehicle designed to aid during cornering

Cruise control: A device that, when engaged by the driver, automatically controls a vehicles speed.

Curb weight: The total weight of a vehicle, including a full tank of fuel, all fluids and standard equipment, but without any cargo or passengers

CVT: A transmission with a continuously variable drive ratio (as opposed to conventionally stepped gear ratios) that maintains a steady acceleration curve with no pauses for gear changes.

Descent control: An off-road version of cruise control that uses the ABS and traction control systems to independently manipulate a vehicle's four brakes, which allows the driver to descend steep and uneven terrain at a walking speed more effectively than the driver can by using a break pedal that controls all four brakes at once.

Direct Injection system: A fuel injection system in which the injection nozzles are located inside the combustion chamber of each piston.

Direct shift gearbox: Also referred to as "DSG," "SMG," "sequential manual gearbox" and "automated manual transmission." See "Automated Manual Transmission."

Dislplacement: The volume, in cubic centimeters, of a vehicles engine cylinder with its piston at bottom dead center, multiplied by the total number of cylinders in the vehicles engine.

Drive belt: A belt that transfers the rotation of the engine through the crankshaft pulley to drive various devices, such as the alternator, water pump, air conditioning compressor or power steering pump.

Drive shaft: A sturdy metal tube with universal joints on either end that connects the engine to a differential on a rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle.

Dusk sensing headlights: A feature that, when activated, automatically turns on the headlights and taillights when the ambient light dims at sunset.

Engine Auto start/stop: A system that automatically shuts the engine off when a vehicle comes to rest for a period, and then restarts it automatically when the brake is released and the throttle is depressed.

Engine oil: A substance that lubricates and cools the moving parts of the engine and reduces corrosion and the formation of rust.

Fog lights: A pair of driving lights that provides a wide, low beam in an attempt to undercut fog.

Forced induction: The forced compression of air into an engines cylinders by means of a supercharger or turbocharger.

Fuel filter: A replaceable metal or plastic canister that prevents particulate matter and most contaminants in the fuel from reaching the engine.

Fuel injection system: A device that atomizes fuel by forcibly pumping it through a small nozzle under high pressure and delivers it to the vehicles engine.

Idle speed: The RPM of the engine free from load (all accessories off), at normal operating temperature and in neutral (or, in the case of an automatic transmission, park or neutral).

Ignition timing: The process of setting the time that a spark will occur in the combustion chamber (during the power stroke) relative to piston position and crankshaft angular velocity.

Intelligent alternator: An alternator that operates primarily when the engine has no need for power, i.e., when coasting or during braking. The alternator remains passive while the vehicle is under power, with needed electrical power provided by the battery, for the purpose of improving the vehicles fuel efficiency.

Keyless ignition: A system that allows the activation by the driver of a push-button to start a vehicle if proximity sensors detect the electronic key inside the vehicle.

Lumbar support: A mechanical or pneumatic device that matches a vehicles seat back to the contours of the driver or passenger.

Manifold heat control valve: A thermostatic device that routes exhaust heat to the intake manifold in order to promote fuel vaporization and reduce warm-up time.

Navigation system: A device that communicates with global positioning satellites to determine a vehicles physical location and plot a course using stored map information.

NVH dampening: A system of devices that lessens the noise, vibration and harshness in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

OEM: Original equipment manufacturer, i.e., the manufacturer of a vehicle.

Oil-filter: A cartridge-filled canister placed in an engines lubricating system to strain dirt and abrasive materials out of the oil.

Oversteer: A handling characteristic of a vehicle that causes it to turn more sharply than the driver intends because the rear wheels are sliding to the outside of the turn.

Parking assist: An electronic system that employs laser, radar or sonar technology to enable a vehicle to park itself, in some cases without driver input.

Parking lights: Sometimes referred to as "daytime running lights." White lights intended to increase a vehicles visibility to other drivers.

Parking sensors: Button-size sensors in the front and/or rear bumpers that measure the distance to nearby cars and other objects and alert the driver using sounds or lights.

Power steering: An electric and/or hydraulic system that multiplies, for ease and comfort, the force a driver exerts on the steering wheel.

Rain sensing wipers: A feature that uses rainfall sensors to engage the wipers and adjust wiper speed accordingly.

Rear spoiler: An aerodynamic device attached to a vehicles trunk lid or liftgate consisting of one or more airfoils supported by uprights that allows air to flow over it as well as under it, resulting in decreased lift and increased stability at high speeds.

Regenerative braking: A method of assisting the deceleration of a hybrid or electric vehicle in which the vehicles electric motor switches from drive/output mode to generator mode. This recharges the battery by converting a portion of the vehicles kinetic energy into electrical energy.

Remote start: A feature of a vehicles electronic key fob that controls the vehicles ignition.

Roofline: The outline or contour of the roof a vehicle.

Run flat: A tire that is capable of being driven on temporarily after losing its pneumatic pressure.

Sear adjustment type: The type of adjustment control for the seats: manual, power or power-with-memory.

Seat belts: Harnesses designed to secure vehicle occupants during a collision.

Seatbelt force limiters: A part of the seatbelt pre-tensioner that helps prevent the seatbelt from being tightened to the point of injury to the occupant.

Self leveling headlights: A system that uses suspension height sensors to determine the orientation of a vehicle's body for the purpose of making up-down adjustments to the direction of the headlights, for the protection of oncoming drivers.

Skid plate: A shield typically attached to the bottom of a vehicles front bumper that is designed to guard the undercarriage in the case of insufficient ground clearance.

Spoiler: An attachment to a vehicle (or component of its body) originally introduced for the purpose of directing airflow over such device (or the entire vehicle) to decrease lift and increase stability at high speeds, but that is sometimes used on consumer vehicles solely for aesthetic reasons.

Stability control: Also known as "electronic stability control," or "ESC." A safety feature that improves the safety of a vehicles handling by detecting skids and compensating by adjusting braking pressure to help maintain the intended direction of the vehicle. Some stability control systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.

Sunroof: A fixed or operable opening in the roof of a vehicle that is covered with a metal or glass plug.

Tachometer: An instrument that tells the driver how fast the engine is rotating, commonly including a redline to indicate the maximum engine speed.

Tail lights: A set of housings that include a vehicles brake lamps, reverse lights and rear turn signal lights.

Torque: A measurement of an engine's power that indicates how forcefully it can rotate the crankshaft at a given engine speed.

Traction Control: Also known as "traction control system," or "TCS." A safety feature that regulates wheel spin and prevents loss of control under acceleration by ensuring maximum traction and contact between the tires and the road (by adjusting brake pressure to one or more wheels, closing the throttle, or reducing the fuel supply to at least one or more cylinders).

Understeer: A handling characteristic of a vehicle that causes it to turn less sharply than the driver intends because the front wheels are sliding to the outside of the turn.

Variable Valve Timing: An engine feature that allows the lift, timing or duration of the engines valvetrain to be changed dynamically while it is in operation.

Wheel alignment: The adjustment of various components to meet predetermined specifications for camber, caster, toe and ride height

Wheelbase: The distance between the center of a vehicles front axle and the center of its rear axle. Happy revving.

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