GLOSSARY OF CAR TERMINOLOGY
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Braking systems which sense wheel
rotation and automatically "pump" the brakes for the driver in
emergency braking conditions. The pumping and the prevention of wheel lockup
allow the driver to retain steering capabilities during the braking emergency.
Any Fool purchasing a vehicle with such a system would be well advised to
insist on the dealership demonstrating the proper use and maintenance of it.
Most of these systems work when the driver applies heavy, constant braking pressure,
and do not work properly if the driver "pumps" the brakes as he may
have been previously taught.
Introduced during the 1970's in USA, as standard on many cars since 1990, globally.
Causes quick cooling of cabin by way of chilled air flow.
Usually found on heavy-duty trucks, using compressed air to operate.
A method for reducing exhaust
emissions. The injection of fresh air into the engine exhaust ports, combined
with the high heat present in the exhaust manifold, causes the burning up of
leftover fuel vapors.
The wind resistance of a vehicle's design elements. Aerodynamic vehicles
claim to offer increased performance and reduced wind noise while moving. See
Coefficient of Drag.
Any non-steel road wheel. Mostly aluminum, but technically a mixture of two or
May be alcohol-based, such as ethanol or methanol; compressed natural gas; or
combinations of gasoline and alcohol.
Tyres designed to provide good traction in winter snow and slush without
wearing too quickly on dry roads.
A suspension component. A steel rod or tube that connects the left and right
suspension members to resist roll or swaying of the vehicle. Improves handling.
Vertical roof support between the windshield and front edge of the front side
The ratio between the width and sidewall (or height) of the tyre. Tyres with
lower aspect ratios, usually found on sports models, provide superior handling
but a harsher ride.
Several Dealership operations located on one site.
Automatic Locking Retractor
Standard on 1995 and later models, this device is built into the shoulder belt
retractor and keeps the belt cinched tightly, which is essential for properly
securing a child-safety seat.
A system that varies the power and torque to a drivetrain without the use of a
A device that converts mechanical
energy into electrical energy for the purpose of charging the car battery.
Automatic Transmission Fluid. A
liquid used within an automatic transmission to transfer the movement of the
torque converter to the driveshaft.
Automatically controls a vehicle's heating and cooling systems, maintaining a
temperature preset by the occupant.
Vertical metal roof
support between front and rear side windows on the side of the vehicle.
The pressure produced by
restrictions in an exhaust system. Back pressure affects the rate at which
exhaust gases are extracted from the cylinders.
A dynamic joint of
ball-and-socket configuration used in the steering and suspension systems.
A coat of paint acting as
the base for other layers to be applied.
A horizontal line,
usually imaginary but sometimes indicated by a feature in the body design, just
below the window openings on a car or truck body.
Full-length seat that runs along the rear width of the car cabin so that more
than two passengers can sit there.
An air pollutant produced via the
combustion engine an the fossil fuels it burns.
This child-safety seat is
designed for children who are too large for a baby seat, but not big enough to
sit safely in the vehicle's seats.
The type of exterior shell or shape to a vehicle (sedan, coupe, hatchback,
This child-safety seat is designed for children who are too large for a baby
seat, but not big enough to sit safely in the vehicle's seats.
Diameter of an individual engine cylinder. Relates to that of the piston stoke
length, both being given in millimeters, eg- 77.0/85.5mm
Gases created during combustion
that leak past the piston rings and are removed from the crankcase via the PCV
Device or system that
helps reduce the force the driver must exert against the brake pedal. May be
hydraulic or electric.
A hydraulic (liquid-pressured) piston assembly that holds disc-brake pads.
Used in a disc system, it is a replaceable piece of backing plate and
additional friction lining. The Disc, a thick, round metal plate located
behind each wheel, against which a set of brake pads are applied by a caliper
Occurs when the vehicle pulls suddenly to the left or right as the brake pedal
is depressed. It indicates the brakes may be out of adjustment.
Shiny metal disk that brake pads squeeze to stop the vehicle; hence the name
A curved, replaceable piece of friction material used on drum brakes. The wheel
cylinder pushes the brake shoes against the brake drum.
Individual driver or passenger seats, that enclose a person by means of depth
curvature an side lips. Usually found in customised an sporting cars.
a length of metal with spring or
rubber backing that sits rear-most on a car, and fronts the radiator.
a small car made from light wood
an metal, with no mechanical content other than a steering mechanism plus 2
The cylinders are
opposite (180 degrees apart) from each other. Also called flat engines, these
are relatively flat compared to In-line or V engines.
The vertical metal roof support between the side edge of the rear windshield
(also called the backlight) and the rear edge of the rear window.
The interior people-space within
a car. For a truck its called a Cab. The 'Greenhouse' is a term used in
automotive circles to describe all of the windows enclosing the passenger
A two-door small open car with a
hand- retractable roof, being either a rag (cloth) top or hard top. Seating 4
usually, it appeared first in the 1920's but faded-out a decade later, an
returning to fashion by the 1960's.
An irregularly shaped disc or
projection whose rotation creates a rocking motion in an adjacent part.
Inward or outward tilt of the wheels tyres. This adjustment affects how the
vehicle holds the road and handles cornering.
A metal shaft supporting the cams
that cause the open/close operation of the intake and exhaust valves. The
camshaft turns at 1/2 the speed of the crankshaft and is connected to it either
via gears, a timing chain or a timing belt.
Introduced by the Brabham Team in
1978, these offer improved performance and superior durability to the steel
brakes they superceded. Carbon disc brakes operate at their best when heated to
extremely high temperatures, up to 1000° centigrade. Therefore, they are not
suitable for road going cars as there performance when cold is very poor.
This is an ultra-light, but
extremely strong material that has been used to manufacturer vehicle parts for
road an racing cars. It was introduced to the World of Formula 1 racing in the
1970's in the form of large but light wings.
the first team to use it to produce the whole monocoque of a Formula 1 car in
Device that mixes air with fuel, delivering the mixture into the engine's
combustion chambers. Only found on older vehicles. By the mid-1980s, new
emissions standards led to the use of fuel-injection systems, which do not
require frequent adjustment.
Computer Aided Traction System,
in which a machine automatically adjusts the road holding ability of a car
while it covers slippery or uneven ground. A standard high-tech add-on for expensive
sports-cars an luxury saloons, introduced in the 1990's.
A component of the exhaust system
that creates a heat- producing chemical reaction to convert potentially harmful
combustion byproducts into carbon dioxide and water.
In a lease transaction,
the price at which a financial institution buys a vehicle from a dealer.
Equivalent to the cash purchase price if the consumer were buying the vehicle
outright, it includes taxes and any other additional charges. Also called
Captive Finance Company
A car insurance institution owned by a car manufacturer. Examples include
Chrysler Credit, Ford Motor Credit and General-Motors-AutoCredit.
On all-wheel drive vehicles, a third differential in addition to those for the
front and rear axles. This third differential allows the front and rear wheels
to turn at different speeds as needed for cornering on dry pavement. On
slippery surfaces, it locks all four wheels together, either automatically or
manually depending on the system, for greater traction.
Aerodynamic efficiency (Cd)
multiplied by frontal area (A). This will tell you how much effort is required
to push the car through the air at a given speed.
a jukebox style enclosure
containing 5 to 50 audio CDs, each being accessible via a built-in CD player,
all remotely controlled from the car-hi-fi panel on the dashboard.
Central Locking System
On a vehicle with power door locks, the system locks or unlocks all doors at
Center High-Mounted Stop Light - required brake light mounted higher than
the taillights, at the top center or bottom center of the rear windshield, as
for racing purposes by regulation.
A safety valve which allows fuel,
air or a vacuum to flow in only one direction.
A sequence of tight corners.
Often inserted on straights to slow cars into the following corner. A number of
race tracks have been modified to reduce speeds.
This is the part of the car in
which the driver sits and to which the engine and suspension are attached. In
modern Formula 1 cars the chassis is a monocoque design manufactured from
The pole of lights that starts a drag race, named for its red and green lights.
Most drag races use the pro or heads up start which has three lights in between
the first (red) and last (green) stage.
The result of the process of
lowering the top of a car, usually as part of a customized design.
The transparent top coat of paint on many newer vehicles; designed to create a
long-lasting, lustrous appearance.
The non-technical term for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system
(HVAC). Most current vehicles have all three - heating, defrost, and AC.
This drivetrain component is
found between the engine and the transmission. It acts as a coupling device
which is used to engage and disengage the transmission from the engine when
shifting gears. It is necessary to do this joining and detaching because the
engine is turning at a relatively high rate (thousands of revolutions per
minute), and attempting to alter a gear ratio at this point could send various
bits of transmission shrapnel careening about the occupant compartment.
Presses against the transmission flywheel to transfer power from the engine to
The rear seat in a coupe.
Coefficient of Drag (Cd)
A measure of the aerodynamic resistance of the vehicle body. The smaller the
number, the more wind-cheating the body design and the greater likelihood that
passengers won't have to endure wind noises.
Carbon dioxide pollution expelled
from the exhaust pipe, that since the 1990's must be at low enough levels to
make the car meet world toxicity regulations. Figure given in grams per
A transformer used in the
ignition system for stepping up the voltage of the electric current conducted
through the spark plugs. This high level of "electrical pressure" is
what causes the current to jump the gap at the tip of each spark plug and
create the actual spark that ignites the fuel inside the cylinder.
A heavy-duty, spiraled metal
component of the suspension system which forms a dynamic connection between the
body of an automobile and its chassis.
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by collision with
another car or object.
The stage prior to combustion during
which the piston in a cylinder pushes down on the fuel vapor within to
The ratio of the volume within an engine cylinder when the piston is at the
bottom of its stroke, compared to the volume in the cylinder when the piston is
at the top of its stroke. The higher the ratio, the more compression during
combustion and the more powerful the engine. Eg- 8:3:1
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by things other than
collision. For example, if your car is stolen or vandalized.
Top section of the engine cylinder, where the air-fuel mixture is ignited by a
spark plug. The explosion of the combustion pushes the piston down into the
cylinder, producing the force that the transmission delivers to the drive
Constant-Velocity Joint (CV Joint)
On front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, a coupling that allows the
front axle to turn at a constant speed at various angles when the vehicle
turns. The CV joint is a shaft that transmits engine power from the
transmission to the wheel.
A spare tyre mounted on the
bumper at the rear of the car, usually requiring a bumper extension.
A medium-large sized car seating
upto 5 people an having possibly 4 doors. Largely occurring in America, as with a top that can be either lowered or removed. Originally, many popular
American cars were of this design, but soon the protection of the closed in
sedan gained dominance. Convertibles have always had a niche except for a brief
period in the '70's and '80's when the disappeared due to safety concerns.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
The government tracks the average fuel economy of all the vehicles produced in
a single model-year by each individual manufacturer. CAFE is that rating.
Generally, a two-door car with close-coupled passenger compartment.
Coupe de Ville
A coupe with an enclosed, rear passenger section and an open driver's section.
The area inside the engine block
where the crankshaft, piston rods and other moving parts operate and receive
The main shaft of an engine
through which the power produced during combustion is transferred to the
transmission (and ultimately the wheels) as torque. Its rotation results from
the reciprocating motion of the pistons.
Crash protection research
programs run by government backed authorities. Cars are crashed head-on into a
rigid barrier at 35 mph, and instrumented dummies measure crash forces endured
by properly restrained occupants. Each tested vehicle is assigned a score
indicating the likelihood of moderate, severe or fatal injury.
A device that, when set by the driver, will hold the car at the chosen speed.
Optional accessory similar in
function to fender skirts but are normally longer, fit on the outside of the
body of the car, and are most often used in customization work.
Portions of a vehicle's structure designed to buckle and fold in an impact,
absorbing crash force rather than transmitting it to vehicle occupants.
One of a group of chambers in the
engine within which the process of combustion takes place. The most common
engine configurations utilize either four (4), six (6) or eight (8) cylinders.
The main part of the engine to which other parts are attached.
At the top of the engine block is the cylinder head which contains intake and
exhaust valves. Air and fuel enter the cylinder head through the intake valves
and spent leftovers are released after combustion through the exhaust valves
A device which reduces vibration.
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
These lights come on whenever the vehicle is turned on; they make the vehicle
more visible to other drivers. Mandatory in Canada and standard equipment on
many vehicles sold in the United States.
This may refer to the unit found between the front driver and passenger
seat that contains the automatic transmission shifter, cupholders and a storage
compartment. But it can also refer to the section of the instrument panel that
includes the controls for the sound system and climate-control system,
particularly if the panel flows down the center of the vehicle and includes the
automatic-transmission shifter. Called a Console in USA.
Dealer Invoice Price
Also called dealer cost.
The amount the dealer pays for a car or truck. Deducted from this price may be
a dealer incentive, which is a set discount offered for a limited period of
time, or a dealer holdback, which is a percentage of the vehicle's wholesale
The decrease in a vehicle's market value over time. The amount of yearly
depreciation is affected by vehicle condition; resale-marketplace supply and
demand; and make and model reputation. Convertibles, high-performance cars,
trucks and vans tend to depreciate less than other vehicles.
the process of removing the body trim or contour lines from the hood or
trunk of a car, usually as part of a customized design.
An internal combustion engine in which the air-fuel mixture is ignited by
compression in the cylinder rather than by a spark. Diesel engines use diesel
fuel rather than gasoline and tend to be more fuel-efficient and require less
maintenance than gasoline engines, but it is more complicated to get them to
run cleanly. Also used as a slang term: after turning off the ignition, the
engine continues to run for a short period.
A mechanical gearbox or fluid coupling that allows wheels to rotate at
different speeds. Usually located on an axle, it allows the outside wheels to
turn faster than the inside wheels during cornering. Four-wheel-drive and
all-wheel drive vehicles have two differentials, one for the rear axle and one
for the front. all-wheel drive vehicles also may have a third or center
differential on the drive shaft that runs between the front and rear axles.
A rear outlet for expelling
A small dent or scrape in the body of the vehicle.
Shiny metal discs, called brake rotors, are attached to the wheel hub, rotating
with the wheel. When the brake pedal is depressed, the brake calipers squeeze
the discs to slow the vehicle. See Brake Caliper and Brake Rotor. Diameter
given in millimeters.
The volume displaced by an engine's cylinders. Formerly measured in cubic
inches, it is now more commonly expressed in liters.
Part of the ignition (electrical) system. Delivers electricity from the
ignition coil to the distributor cap and the spark plug wires in the correct
firing order. (The firing order is that sequence in which each cylinder begins
its power stroke.) The spark plugs ignite the fuel and air mixture in each cylinder
thousands of times a minute, producing the explosion that pushes the piston
down in the cylinder to power the vehicle.
Popular name applied to the angle
created at the door opening by the wrap-around windshields found on many mid to
late '50's models.
The air pressure applied to the
surface of a car at high speed, by means of aerodynamic body details, thus
improving its traction, as airflow tries to lift the car.
The pipe that joins the entire
exhaust system to the exhaust manifold.
Double Wishbone Suspension
A type of independent suspension in which the upper and lower support pieces,
or members, look somewhat like a wishbone.
A straight-line racing car where
the engine is half exposed an the rear wheels are larger than the front wheels.
Exotic booster fuels are usually added like nitro-gas.
A phenomena where two cars running nose to tail together can move faster than
an individual vehicle.
Connects the transaxle to the front wheels on a front-wheel drive vehicle.
Drive Range (EV)
The distance an electric vehicle can drive without re-charging its batteries.
A braking system that uses a metal drum. Brake shoes press against the drum to
slow or stop the car.
Vehicle components which act together to move the vehicle forward or backward.
On a rear-drive vehicle, it is the combination of the engine, transmission,
differential and drive shaft. On a front-drive vehicle, it consists of the
engine, transaxle and drive axles.
A long metal cylinder located
between the transmission and the rear axle, in front-engine rear-wheel drive
vehicles. The shaft is connected to the components on each end with a universal
joint, which allows for movement up and down without bending the shaft.
Electronic Brake Distribution is
a component used with ABS an usually a brake assist mechanism, for small
powerful cars, like the new Mini of 1998.
In an electronic muffler system,
sensors and microphones in the exhaust system sense the pattern of exhaust
pressure waves. This information is sent to an on-board computer that controls
loudspeakers in the muffler. The computer operates the loudspeakers to generate
sound waves that oppose and cancel the original exhaust sound waves produced by
Electronic Stabilization Program
(ESP) increases vehicle control
in situations near the vehicle's limits. It reduces the risk of skidding and
helps to keep the vehicle on course. ESP recognizes the course desired and the
car's reactions. Through brake application at individual wheels, it generates
one-sided forces which help the car to move in the desired direction. The ESP
program uses other driving aids and is permanently engaged.
Electronic Control Module (ECM)
Electronic Control Module. The master computer responsible for interpreting
electrical signals sent by engine sensors and for activating automated engine
components and processes accordingly in order to produce optimum performance.
A system which uses an electronic
unit as opposed to an older mechanical style distributor with points (contacts)
to control the timing and firing of spark plugs.
Electronic Valve Timing (EVT)
System in which a computer controls the timing of the opening and closing of
The basic job of an engine is to
take fuel and convert its energy to some usable mechanical form (burn gasoline
to spin a shaft and, ultimately, the wheels). Usually made from alloy &
block. Its Cubic Capacity number [cc] represents the interior fuel space within
it. The higher cc# the greater power it generates. Most vehicles today are
fitted with what is known as a 4-cycle internal combustion engine. The four
cycles are: Intake, Compression, Power, Exhaust.
The total of the volume used for combustion inside the cylinders of an engine.
Measured in liters on newer models, or in cubic inches on older models.
The position it sits within the
chassis, the cylinder amount, their arrangement, the CC total, plus any extra
Engine management system
Computerized control of the
ignition an fuel systems, making driving more economical, quieter, and
power-effective. It can be made by the company using it, or be bought from
another car manufacturer, or from a specialist electronics maker.
Engine noise pollution
An environmental concern measured
in SPL decibels, at various speeds, an when the engine is idling. Leaded
emissions relate to 'toxic pollution'.
An air intake with behind it a
large inducting fan, drawing air through a water cooled piping arrangement,
thus preventing engine overheating, where the event is highly expected.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The federal agency that regulates air quality and sets automotive fuel-economy
and emissions standards.
The value left in a used vehicle after subtracting the outstanding loan balance
from its market value. For example, if £4,000 is still owed on a car worth
£8,000 on the open market, then it has an equity of £4,000.
A process in which a neutral third party takes care of the transfer of
ownership of the vehicle.
Evaporated fuel from the carburetor or fuel system which mixes with the
surrounding outside air.
Part of the climate-control system that contains a liquid refrigerant which
turns to gas to absorb heat from the air.
Any mileage over the amount agreed upon within a car hire lease contract. Generally
incurs a per-mileage charge at the end of the lease. Experts recommend a yearly
mileage limit, or Mileage Cap, that exceeds normal driving needs.
A government fuel consumption
rating in mpg for when driving along motorways.
A cast set of pipes or passages
through which exhaust gases exit the engine cylinders on their way into the
Devices that open passageways
from the cylinders for exhaust gases to exit but which also close them during
compression and combustion to maintain cylinder pressure.
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
Part of the emissions system, it recirculates exhaust gases into the intake
manifold, cooling the combustion chamber.
The basic design and
options that make up the packaging of an entry-level vehicle.
Transmits power from a crankshaft-driven pulley to an engine fan and other
The accepted an safest method by
which a driver turns a steering wheel.
A body panel that lies below
either side of the bonet, between the front bumper and front-most door edge,
encompassing the wheel space in-between, [2 off].
Provides a flexible connection between car an that which it tows, like a
Federation Internationale De L'Automobile
Final Drive Ratio
The reduction ratio of the transmission gear set furthest from the engine. In
other words, the ratio of the number of rotations of the drive shaft for one
rotation of a wheel. In general, a low final drive ratio results in better fuel
efficiency, and higher final drive ratio results in better performance.
The metal panel that separates the engine compartment from the passenger
compartment. It also often includes sound and heat insulation.
When a gas is blown into the
engine to increase speed, by a turbo or supercharger.
The most popular, sophisticated, and expensive of all the forms of auto racing
is Formula 1 [F1]. It tends to be dominated by European drivers, who race
through non-ovular circuits around the globe. The parallels to Indy Car racing
have lead to the defections of drivers like Nigel Mansell, who sought the
greater spoils of victory in the US, even though the technical expertise an
racing challenge are lower their. Formula 2, 3, an 4 are lesser versions of F1,
in terms of finance, spectacle, an Skillman-ship. Since 1970, F2 cars have
tended to succeed in the Le Mans 24hr race. Of the 3 cars from left of the
picture below, they represent F1, F2, & F3. Next is a rally car, then a
vintage racer, and right-most is a touring-car racer.
Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)
A transfer case distributes power to both axles in order to drive all four
wheels. Sometimes called All-Wheel-Drive in USA.
Vehicle on which all four wheels turn when the driver turns the steering wheel.
The rear wheels turn at a smaller angle than the front wheels. This system
appeared on a few sports models in the 1980s but was never very popular in North America.
Two special headlights designed
for cutting through foggy conditions along the road ahead.
The sequence in which spark plugs
fire and combustion takes place in the engine cylinders.
A large disc bolted to the rear
end of the crankshaft. The flywheel is encircled by a ring gear whose teeth are
designed to mesh with the pinion gear in the starter during the process of
starting the engine.
A restoration method in which the
car is completely disassembled with all parts cleaned or replaced as necessary,
including the engine and all other mechanical components) so the restored car
meets the exact factory specifications of the time as closely as possible.
Front Wheel Drive
The front wheels are the ones
that are being powered by the engine/transmission, and the rear wheels just
follow along. Generally speaking, these cars are more fuel-efficient than their
rear-wheel drive counterparts, and they operate more easily in snow, but they
are more expensive to build and maintain.
A combustible, vaporous mixture
of air and gasoline which is ignited within an engine to produce power.
"Fuel" is a term often used in reference to the gasoline itself.
The name for a volumous fuel tank
used in formula racing cars, that sits behind the driver an is reinforced with
Fuel Injection System
Injects fuel into the engine's cylinders with electronic control to time and
meter the fuel flow.
These systems are vast and countless,
but today's basic systems divide into two fundamental groups: carburetor
systems and fuel Injection systems. Carburetor systems work by allowing the
vacuum created by the engine in the intake stroke to pull fuel and air into the
engine. Fuel Injection systems are more common these days. Sensors and computer
controls monitor various engine speeds, air flows and throttle positions, and
then tell the system what to do. A fuel pump is used to transfer the gasoline
from the fuel tank to the injector (which is kind of like a spray nozzle).
Taking the place of carburetors in the 1980s, the fuel injector is an
electrically controlled valve that delivers a precise amount of pressurized
fuel into each combustion chamber.
Stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection insurance. Extra insurance for lease
customers to cover the difference in the actual value of the vehicle and
whatever is owed on the lease. Important if the car is stolen or totaled early
in the lease term. It also covers the difference in value between what may be
paid by an insurance carrier and what is still owed to the leasing company,
including future lease payments.
Also called gas-filled shocks. They are shock absorbers filled with a
low-pressure gas to smooth the vehicle's ride during up-and-down movement.
A thin, expanding material used
to seal the gaps and imperfections between hard, adjoining surfaces.
The ratio of teeth counts between
A metallic enclosure containing
several cogs, each one affecting the effort in which the car moves. Each
cog/gear has a different mph ratio per 1000rpm. Overall control maybe manual
via the gear stick, automatic, or semi via a hand paddle.
A small lightly powered single
seat sporting car, driven by juveniles for leisure, or more seriously as a
precursor to professional sport driving, as like F1 champion Ayrton Senna did
while training before turning Pro.
A type of car race popular in Europe. Also, a French term meaning great prize.
Gray Market Vehicle
Any car that is imported, but not through authorized retailers. May have
insufficient emissions standards.
A traffic situation where most
vehicles cannot move in any direction.
An opening in the front of the vehicle that allows air to reach the radiator.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The kerb weight of the vehicle plus the maximum load it is designed to carry.
The distance between the ground and the lowest point of the vehicle chassis
(usually the axle). A vehicle can drive over any object shorter than its
minimum ground clearance.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The actual weight of the vehicle plus the maximum load it is designed to carry.
A car designed to resemble a
convertible in looks and feel but without a removable top. Hardtops do not have
the fixed post between the side windows.
A special headlight form whose
brightness power is greater than standard bulbs, though they cost more an last
A tight looping curve on a race
The ease of vehicle steering and maneuverability around turns, up hills, etc.
A passenger car with a full-height rear door that includes a rear window. Usually
has a rear folding seat. Called a 'Compact' by leasing companies in USA.
The distance from the top of an occupant's head to the headliner.
The interior covering of the roof. Headliners often contain consoles with slots
for garage-door openers and other devices, as well as dome lights and wiring
for electrical and electronic components attached to the headliner. The
covering usually includes a sound-absorbing material.
The allotted room between a passenger's hips and any other part of the vehicle.
Horsepower (hp, bhp)
Abbreviated as hp, as in 200-hp engine, or bhp (brake horsepower or net
horsepower) to designate power produced by an engine. In general, the higher
the horsepower, the higher the vehicle's top speed. One horsepower is the power
needed to lift a 550-pound weight one foot in one second.
A normal vehicle that has been altered to improve speed and overall appearance
or look. When racing acts as a variation of a dragster by hiding the usual
front engine chassis under a lightweight body that looks like a street
Manufacturer refund to a dealer after a vehicle is sold. Usually a percentage
of the recommended retail price.
A chromeplated metal figurine
that sits atop the radiator or at the middle-front of the bonnet.
An integral car component
operated by means of liquid under pressure, as used in the braking system. Word
derived from Grecian origin.
A suspension beam under the car that supports the body in the shape of a
The speed of the engine at minimum throttle and the engine in neutral.
The system responsible for
generating and distributing the electrical spark needed to ignite fuel in the
cylinders and for altering the frequency (timing) of that spark in relation to
changes in engine speed.
Inboard Air Jack
A device added to some racing
cars which raises their chassis after making a pitstop, so quicker action can
be taken on their maintenance. It is powered by a compressed air canister.
Devices which receive fuel at low
pressure and shoot it into the engine cylinders at predetermined intervals
under higher pressure.
A cast set of pipes or passages
through which fuel or air is directed into the cylinders.
Devices that open passageways for
fuel vapor to enter the cylinders but which also close them to maintain
cylinder pressure during compression and combustion.
A suspension design that lets each wheel move up and down independently of the
others. A vehicle can have two-wheel or four-wheel independent suspension;
sportier models have four-wheel independent suspension. See also Multi-Link
Suspension, Live Axle.
the engine location maybe front,
rear, or mid. If its mid or further back the car is rear-wheel drive. Its
orientation maybe traverse or longitudinal.
International Hot Rod Association
International Motor Sports Association, founded by John Bishop in 1969.
Sanctions, organizes, markets and officiates professional auto racing
Cylinders are arranged side by side in a row and in a single bank. Most
four-cylinder and some six-cylinder engines are in-line engines. In V-6, V-8 or
V-12 engines, the cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled
away from the other in a 'V' pattern.
An electronic safety feature that
prevents a car from being illegally driven away.
The big race held in Indianapolis every year on Memorial Day weekend.
Inflatable Tubular Restraint
This tube of woven material is stiffer and stays inflated longer than a
traditional airbag cushion. The tube protects the occupant's head and torso in
a side impact, in part by keeping them away from the point of intrusion. The
uninflated tube is tucked into the edge of the roof headliner. The tube is
attached at the base of the A-pillar in front of the occupant, and at the
roofline behind the occupant. When it inflates, the tube angles across the
window to keep the occupants head from hitting the window glass or metal side
pillar. Because of the longer time the tubular restraint stays inflated, it is
expected to also offer protection in a rollover.
Device that cools air as it leaves a turbocharger or supercharger before the
air is blown into the engine air intake. Cooling makes the air denser and
richer in oxygen, which lets the engine produce more power.
The amount of space or material that can be carried inside the vehicle.
A metal plate with a J shaped
whole, in which the gear-stick must slip between during gear changes.
The point at which the cab of an
articulated lorry is overtaken by the trailer its pulling while still attached.
The surface of a bearing against
which a moving shaft turns.
To transfer electrical power from
one car battery to another to enable the cars ignition system to startup, using
A system for locking and unlocking doors of a vehicle with a central locking
system without using the key. Usually, the user controls the locks by pressing
a button on a remote key-fob transmitter. Some vehicles have electronic
combination locks on the doors near the handle.
Kilometers Per Hour (KPH)
Multiply by 0.621 to convert to miles per hour.
A vehicle that is designed for assembly by the private hobbyist.
A roof style characterized by a
(usually small) rear section being covered by vinyl fabric or otherwise set
A safety belt that
secures the driver and/or passenger in the seat with a continuous web of
material which fits across the lap and crosses the upper body. It keeps the
occupant from jerking forward in the event of a crash. Also called three-way
belt, three-point belt, or three-point safety harness.
A large luxury car, especially
the huge, chrome laden, finned monsters of the late '50's.
Suspension spring made up of several thin, curved, hardened-steel or
composite-material plates attached at the ends to the vehicle underbody. The
curved shape of the plates allows them to flex and absorb bumps.
Lean or Rich Fuel Mixture
The fuel mixture is lean when it has too much air, and rich when it has too
much fuel. These terms can also be used to refer to adjustments the electronic
control module makes to the fuel mixture in response to various driving
conditions, particularly on engines with variable-valve technology.
With the front seat adjusted all the way back, the distance from the
accelerator pedal's heel point to the back of the front seat cushion.
A legally documented claim against a vehicle by another party to which the
vehicle has been offered as security for repayment of a loan or other debt. A
lien against the title may make it impossible to sell the vehicle and transfer
the title until the lien is cleared.
The rear opening on a hatchback. Called a tailgate in Europe, or hatch door.
The distance a person must lift an object off the ground to put it in a trunk,
boot, or cargo bay.
A device that helps prevent the drive wheels from skidding or losing traction
by diverting power from the slipping wheel to the opposite wheel on the same
Engine-displacement measurement, as in a 2.0-litre engine. The metric
equivalent to the imperial measuring standard, which is largely favoured by
American car makers. A Gallon is this other liquid volume standard, an contains
A solid axle allowing movement of the wheel on one end to affect the opposite
wheel. Found on older rear-drive cars and tucks. Also called a rigid axle.
Leased car agreement
A contract between leasor and lessee for a specified time period and at a
specified payment. The title to the car remains in the name of the leasor as
owner of the asset.
Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)
Obtained by divided price or value into loan amount. A vehicle with a £10,000
price and an £8,000 loan would have a loan-to-value ratio of 80 percent.
The amount of turns the steering
wheel must rotated for the wheels to be turned from rightmost to leftmost. Eg -
for the Mini Cooper its 2.5.
Generally, a car on which the
chassis has been lowered; however, other customizations are often present. Some
American cars have a hydraulic mechanism that does this action during driving.
A tyre rating which indicates a tyre designed to perform well in mud and snow.
A MacPherson strut is a unit that includes a damper or shock absorber cartridge
inside a large, long metal spring. MacPherson struts are used over the front
wheels of most front-drive cars. Replacement of MacPherson strut cartridges
requires a spring compressor.
Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor (MAP sensor)
Detects engine load by measuring air pressure or vacuum in the intake manifold.
A transmission that varies the power and torque through a foot pedal controlled
clutch and a floor-mounted or steering-shaft-mounted gear selection lever.
Mass Airflow Sensor
Device that measures the flow of air entering the throttle housing.
The primary component for
pressurizing fluid in a hydraulic system. Used in the braking system, it
supports a reservoir for holding brake fluid and is activated each time the
driver depresses the brake pedal.
Two figure totals given in
brake-horse-power by engine revs per minute. [bhp x rpm].
The weight of force per foot,
given in pounds, and the rpm level, eg 100 lb ft at 1000 rpm.
A glittery sheen within the
paintwork by customer request at an additional cost.
A quite large car of saloon
capacity but resembling a small van with windows.
Miles Per Gallon / MPG
Fuel economy measurement. Generally, a vehicle maker may offer mpg ratings for
city driving, highway driving, and combined driving, so their is no definitive
single measure overall.
A chamber in the engine exhaust
system used to suppress exhaust noise and smooth exhaust pulsations. Also
referred to as a "silencer". Motorbike an moped owners sometimes
remove these to beef-up their sound.
A multi-person vehicle, pioneered
by Renault, like a windowed van with several seats. Similar to a mini-bus but
with modcons an for private use.
Independent suspension controlled with several link arms that restrict
undesired motion of the suspension for a smoother ride and more precise
Multi-Port Fuel Injection
An electronic fuel-injection method that uses individual injectors to spray
fuel directly into each intake port, bypassing the intake manifold. Also called
multi-point fuel injection.
A term used beginning in the
mid-'50's to refer to cars which had very high horsepower and is still in use
today. Occasionally called a 'pony car' in USA. The Aston-Martin Vanquish is a perfect example.
National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing; the governing body which sets
the rules and regulations for stock car racing.
A mixture of nitric acid and methane which is used to fuel Top Fuel Dragsters
and Hotrods; is also called nitro or top fuel.
A small frontal body section of a
car which extends beyond the bonnet line, typically slanting downwards. The
narrower version used on Formula cars is called a shark-nose. 'Nosed' refers to
the process of raising a small peak in the center of the bonnet of a car,
usually as part of a customized design.
The hydrocarbon substance in gasoline that reduces engine knock or pinging,
which is a noise caused by premature ignition of fuel in the cylinder
combustion chamber. The higher the octane number, the less chance of premature
ignition. High octane, which has a rating above 91, is useful only when
recommended by the manufacturer.
Indicates the number of miles a vehicle has been driven, an is also called a
Mileometer. It is illegal to tamper with the odometer reading. This illegal
practice of rolling a vehicle's odometer back to indicate that it traveled
fewer miles than it actually has, is done by 2nd-hand sellers. Odometer
Rollover occurs when the vehicle's mileage exceeds the mechanical limits of the
odometer - usually 99,999 miles. This must be certified by the seller, under
law binding Mileage Acts.
A wheeled road vehicle whose
design allows it to move across rugged terrain with greater ease than standard
Overhead Cam (OHC)
The camshaft is on top of the cylinder head on overhead-cam engines. Single
overhead-cam (SOHC) engines have a single cam above the cylinder head. Dual
overhead-cam (DOHC) engines have two cams above the cylinder head.
An overhead-cam engine with
overhead-valves, which means the intake and exhaust valves sit atop the
Occurs when the rear tyres lose adhesion under cornering. In motor sports, this
is also called loose. Oversteer can lead to a spin if the driver doesn't reduce
acceleration. See also Understeer.
A transmission gear with a ratio
below 1:1, which improves fuel economy by reducing engine revolutions per
minute at highway speeds. On a five-speed manual transmission, the fourth and
fifth gears are overdrive. On a four-speed automatic transmission, the fourth
gear is overdrive. When an overdrive gear set is engaged, the output shaft
turns at a higher rate than the input shaft, reducing engine revolutions at
cruising or highway speeds.
An emissions related device which
senses the presence of oxygen in the exhaust. The voltage it puts out is
interpreted by the main computer (ECM) along with other sensor input to
determine automatic adjustment of the air/fuel mixture.
Machines or features that can be added to a particular model which are not part
of the standard package. These usually involve additional cost and can be
ordered individually or as part of a package. A CD changer/jukebox is an
Seen at racing meets, the pace car leads race cars into their pole positions at
the beginning of races, or after a yellow flag or restart has been called.
A car that is suitable
only for gleaning parts. Such cars are often, wrecked, incomplete and do not
run. Such a car would normally have a condition number of #6.
A device or structure
that automatically helps restrain vehicle occupants in an impact. This includes
airbags, belt pretensioners, padded knee bolsters, and shoulder belts that are
motorized, or attached to the door.
The ledge between the rear seat and the backlight (or rear windshield). The
name is misleading because it's a bad idea to put anything on the package
shelf. However, it often contains the sound system's rear speakers and, on some
vehicles, the CHMSL or center brake light. Sometimes also called the package
tray. On European cars the package tray often contains a first-aid kit; on
higher-end models it may contain storage compartments.
A four-door open car
(convertible). Most true phaetons had vanished by the late '30's, but as late
as the '60's, a few models that roughly qualify for the term were briefly
re-introduced by Lincoln. VW brought back the term in 2002 for their luxury
The type of light-duty truck with an open cargo bed behind a closed cab.
A type of gear that has small teeth that mesh with other, larger gears.
The smaller of two meshing gears.
A pinion gear is used in a starter motor to engage the flywheel ring gear and
also rides along the surface of the steering rack (hence "rack and
This is the garage area at F1
races, where major mechanical work is done on the cars. The pitlane runs its
length. At Indy racing [in USA] its called the 'gasoline alley'.
A solid, cylindrically shaped
part that alternately compresses fuel vapor within a cylinder (the compression
stroke) and is thrust downward (the power stroke) by the force of the explosion
that results when the vapor is ignited. Rocker arms connect the pistons to the
Metal rings seated in grooves on
the outside of a piston that are used to ensure a proper seal between the
piston and the cylinder wall. Typically, three (3) rings are used: two (2)
ensure proper compression is produced and one (1) prevents oil from leaking
into the cylinder.
The degree of acceleration after
exiting a sharp turn, as in 'pokey'.
The leading spot amongst an array
of cars on the starting grid of a race.
Positive Crankcase Ventilation Valve
An emission device that routes oil pan vapors to the intake manifold to be
burned during combustion. Also known as the PCV valve.
A steering system that uses a separate motor or engine power to reduce the
effort necessary to turn the front wheels.
Power Steering Fluid
Many power steering systems use
hydraulic power. These systems use a power steering pump driven by a belt from
the crankshaft. The pump moves fluid under pressure through hoses to the
steering gear. The pressure is used in the steering gear to reduce steering
effort. A reservoir for fluid is attached to the rear of the pump.
The maximum power output of the vehicle per unit mass. The higher the ratio,
the more powerful the vehicle. In comparing several vehicles, this can be a
better measurement than engine horsepower or torque because it considers the
weight variable. In other words, a car that seems to have a powerful engine but
is also heavy may have less get-up-and-go than a vehicle that has a similar or
less powerful engine but also weighs less. Lotus are the best exponents of
this. Given in a BHP per tonne value.
The combination of engine and transmission.
A device that rapidly yanks in shoulder-belt slack when a crash sensor detects
an impact. Some pretensioners are activated by a small explosive charge in the
belt retractor; some contain their own inertial sensors. So far, pretensioners
are still found on more expensive models, particularly those by European
manufacturers. By pulling in belt slack within milliseconds of an impact,
pretensioners help reduce chest and head injury by restricting occupant motion
and preventing the occupant from hitting the belt.
A headlight that uses a spherical reflector to tightly control the light beam.
The bulb or light source directs the light inward, toward the reflector at the
back of the headlight assembly, which then projects it forward from the
vehicle. These lights are more powerful, accurate and expensive than standard
sealed-beam and halogen headlights, and are generally found on sport and luxury
Professional Racers Organization
A method of starting a drag race that differs from most starts in that it only
has one amber light between the initial staging and the final lights on the
A customized automobile designed
for very high-performance and racing.
An essentially complete, usually
running car, that is capable of being restored. A project car usually has a
condition number of #4 or #5.
Road rallies which are very competitive and are run at high speeds on roads
closed to the public. Often sponsored by the SCCA.
Holds the clutch disc against the flywheel.
Acronym for pounds per square inch. A pressure measurement used in tyre
inflation and turbocharger boost.
A metal rod that transmits the motion of the camshaft to the valve actuators to
open and close the valves. Used on engines with overhead valves but without
Sheet of metal panel that covers the front and rear quarters of the vehicle.
A department within a company that
ensures its products meet the required standard, such as checking if a car has
Counted officially by race
organisers, this determines each cars position on the 'starting grid'. It is
achieved by each competitor driving their cars their fastest around 1 circuit
of the race-course, over 1 session.
The environmentally safe refrigerant now used in air-conditioning systems. It
requires a slightly bulkier condenser unit than the older R-12 type. Vehicles
equipped with R-12 systems can be converted to use R-134a. Since Freon is now
banned, expensive and hard to obtain, the conversion may be a good idea when an
R-12-based system needs recharging, particularly if technicians detect a leak.
An open car having a single seat
for two or three passengers, with originally a rumble seat in the rear, an
usually a folding roof.
Rack and Pinion Steering
The steering wheel is connected to a pinion gear that meshes with a toothed
bar, also called a rack or linear gear. As the pinion turns, the rack moves
side to side, moving the steering linkage and causing the front wheels to turn
left or right. The ends of the rack are linked to the steering wheel with tie
The RAC Motor Sports Association is recognized by the FIA as the governing body
of motor sport in Great Britain.
The copper or aluminum device in front of the engine through which hot engine
coolant is circulated and cooled. The liquid is then recirculates back through
the engine block to cool it.
A convertible with a soft top, usually made from canvas or a polymer.
Competing teams, consisting of a driver and a navigator, are given route
instructions, which they must follow exactly. Each team follows the course
independently, trying to rack up points based on how well they meet a
Rear axel assembly
The drive shaft turns (spins) a
set of gears within the rear axle assembly known as the differential, or rear
differential. The differential changes the direction of power from the
driveshaft out to the rear wheels via the rear axle.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)
The drivetrain in which power is applied through the rear wheels only.
A manufacturer calls in vehicles to repair defects, usually safety-related.
Recalls may be voluntary, requested by the government, or mandated by NHTSA.
A steering mechanism in which the steering shaft turns a worm gear causing a
toothed metal block to move back and forth, turning the front wheels. Ball
bearings reduce friction between the worm gear and the metal block.
The point on the engine tachometer that indicates the maximum RPM the engine
can safely withstand.
Disengages the clutch disc from the flywheel by pressing on the pressure plate
A car having a mechanically retractable hardtop such as the late '50's Ford
An electronic safety device
preventing high-speeds above 160mph from being reached.
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
Describes at which speed the engine crankshaft is turning.
Usually sits near the Speedometer.
Shows the driver the rpm level while pressing the accelerator,
thus indicating how much fuel maybe unnecessarily be being burned.
The outer edge of a bare wheel. A hub-cap sometimes sits within this.
The body panel that runs beneath a vehicle's doors.
A neutral road vehicle
examination done by transport depts., publishers, an consumer associations. It
covers - design, engineering, performance, braking, handling, ride, comfort,
safety, equipment, specifications, economy, market & finance.
The rotating part of a machine or
mechanism. The brake disc itself is referred to as a "rotor," as is
the center of a distributor or starter motor.
A protective steel cage to prevent driver injury during a rollover.
The type of vehicle impact in which the car or truck rolls over on its side,
onto its roof, or turns over completely. The biggest cause of injury in a
rollover is ejection of the occupant or any part of the occupant. Rollover is a
greater risk in any sport-utility vehicle - because of its high center of
gravity - than in a minivan, pickup truck or passenger car. Rollover can occur
immediately upon impact or in the seconds after an impact, which makes it more
difficult to protect occupants with traditional airbags. Inflatable tubular
restraints and similar designs that stay inflated longer than traditional
airbags will be more effective in rollover situations.
This indicates that something may be wrong on the race track, but the cars are
allowed to stay, running at a reduced speed. A quick check by the officials
usually resolves the issue and the green light comes back on.
Fold-up seat in the rear of a car.
A strip running between the
fenders and below the doors of early autos used both as a step up into the car
and to wipe the mud from one's feet.
A time period between
8am>10am, where traffic peaks more so than at any time during the day, but
An LCD showing the vehicle
position within the local area, as pinpointed by a GPS satellite.
The distance from the point where the steering axis intersects the ground to
the longitudinal line that runs through the center of the tyre's contact patch.
Also called "steering offset."
A fixed-roof car with at least
four doors or any fixed-roof two-door car with at least 33 cubic feet of rear
interior volume. Called a Limousine outside America. Daimler only make this car type.
A two-door sedan having a slanted
back with the rear window and trunk along one unbroken curve. This name for the
early streamlined design is most often used for Buick and Cadillac models, but
similar designs of other makes are known by various names.
An algorithm is a mathematical formula or series of formulas used by an
on-board computer or processor to make decision. In an airbag system, a crash-sensor
algorithm determines whether the change in velocity indicates an impact of
great enough force to require airbag deployment, based on pre-programmed
parameters. If the change in velocity is great enough, the processor sends a
signal to the device that inflates the airbag.
Sequential Fuel Injection
Similar to multi-port fuel injection, but the injectors spray fuel into the
individual intake ports exactly at the beginning of each cylinder's intake
cycle. The precise fuel control provides better engine performance.
An independent rear-suspension
system in which each wheel hub is located only by a large, roughly triangular
arm that pivots at two points. Viewed from the top, the line formed by the two
pivots is somewhere between parallel and perpendicular to the car's
On a vehicle with automatic transmission, a safety device that prevents the
driver from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal is depressed.
The mechanism in a transmission linkage that controls the motion of the
gearshift lever. The shift gate is usually an internal mechanism; however, in
some transmissions: including Ferrari five-speeds and Mercedes-Benz automatics:
the shift gate is an exposed guide around the shift lever.
A device that converts motion into heat, usually by forcing oil through small
internal passages in a tubular housing. Used primarily to dampen suspension
oscillations, shock absorbers respond to motion; their effects, therefore, are
most obvious in transient maneuvers.
The lower portion of an engine
below the cylinder head.
An inflatable cushion that fills the space between the door and the occupant to
prevent head, torso and pelvis injuries when a vehicle is hit from the side.
Side airbags may be stored in the door-trim panel or the outboard side of the
seat; they may protect the hip and torso only or also protect the head. A new
design, called an inflatable tubular restraint, is stored in the edge of the
roof headliner and attached at the base of the A-pillar at the front end and
above the doors along the roofline at the other. The device inflates into a
somewhat stiff tube that prevents the occupant's head from hitting the side pillar
or the window.
safety regulations require that vehicles absorb a certain amount of force when
hit from the side. To meet side-impact standards, automakers have stiffened
side-impact beams, which resist intrusion into the passenger compartment, and
added safety devices such as side airbags and extra padding, which are designed
to push the occupant toward the interior of the vehicle and away from the point
A spare tyre mounted on the side
of a car, normally on the fender just above and behind the front wheel.
Single Overhead Cam (SOHC)
An engine with a single overhead cam generally has one intake and one exhaust
valve per cylinder; the single cam opens and closes both valves. See also
Overhead Cam and Dual Overhead Cam.
A large area of smooth, flat pavement used for various handling tests. Road
holding is measured by defining a large-diameter circle (Car and Driver uses
300 feet) on the skidpad and measuring the fastest speed at which the car can negotiate
the circle without sliding off.
A type racing tyre characteristically very wide with no tread.
Several soft turns in a row at a
race-track, like at Brands Hatch in the UK.
Society of Automotive Engineers
The professional association of transportation-industry engineers. The SAE sets
most auto-industry standard for the testing, measuring, and designing of
automobiles and their components.
The electromagnetic device
positioned above the starter which thrusts the pinion gear against the engine
flywheel when starting ("turning over") the engine.
A particular kind of tube frame
that consists exclusively of relatively short, small-diameter tubes. The tubes
are welded together in a configuration that loads them primarily in tension and
The amount of BHP produced from 1
litre of fuel.
Converts voltage into an arc that passes between its electrodes; the arc
ignites the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. The mixture explodes,
creating power by pushing down the piston.
An instrument dial above the
steering wheel which informs the driver of the current speed, in MPH and/or
Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)
Refers to a style of truck which has a square passenger cabin and hatchback,
and may be equipped with two- or four-wheel drive.
A body type designation. Generally a small, powerful car seating only two
Two types of sprint cars exist, the first is the open-wheel cars that feature a
upright roll cage. The second is a similar car that has a large wing mounted to
the top for stability.
An aerodynamic device that
changes the direction of airflow in order to reduce lift or aerodynamic drag
and/or improve engine cooling..
A very fast sports car with a
removable roof and a top speed above 170mph.
There are many designs, but each contains similar elements including a system
of sensors and mathematical algorithms to detect the presence or absence of an
occupant in the seat; to determine the size, weight and nature of any occupant
(including whether it is a rear-facing infant and determine whether the
occupant is an adult, a dog, a bag of groceries or a rear-facing infant seat);
and to determine whether the occupant is too close to the airbag door for safe
deployment. A smart system will use that information to decide whether to
inflate the airbag in an impact. Later generations of smart airbags will adjust
the rate of inflation based on force of impact and size of the occupant.
The angular difference between the direction in which a tyre is rolling and the
plane of its wheel. Slip angle is caused by deflections in the tyre's sidewall
and tread during cornering. A linear relationship between slip angles and
cornering forces indicates an easily controllable tyre.
A slang for an automatic transmission.
The opposite of dive, squat is the dipping of a car's rear end that occurs
during hard acceleration. Squat is caused by a load transfer from the front to
the rear suspension.
The ability of a car to resist road irregularities and run in a straight line
without steering corrections.
As opposed to the moving rotor,
the stationary portion of a device. In an alternator, for example, the stator
includes an intricate copper winding that picks up the current induced by the
rotation of the rotor within a magnetic field.
An electric motor used to
initiate movement of internal engine parts so that combustion can begin.
Activating the starter causes the solenoid to thrust the pinion gear in the
starter against the engine flywheel ring gear and begin turning it.
A customized, usually modernized,
most often classic, automobile designed for show and/or pleasure driving.
The first section or portion of a race track.
A two- or four-door passenger car with a cargo area that extends all the way to
the rear bumper. A model variant derived from an extension of a popular saloon
model. In Europe is termed an estate version.
The line that intersects the upper and lower steering pivots
on a steered wheel. On a car with a strut suspension, the steering axis is
defined by the line through the strut mount on top and the ball joint on the
The general relationship between forces at the steering wheel and handling.
Ideally, the steering effort should increase smoothly as the wheel is rotated
away from center. In addition, the steering effort should build as the
cornering forces at the steered wheels increase. Finally, the friction built
into the steering mechanism should be small in comparison with the
handling-related steering forces.
The relationship between yaw and the steering wheel's position and effort. All
three should be proportional and should build up smoothly.
The ratio of the different steering gears. Usually a lower gear means a faster
The device by which the movement
of the steering wheel is transferred to the front wheels of an automobile.
The metal rods on each end of the
steering rack that connect it to the front wheels via ball joints (tie rod
A single, self contained pivoting
suspension unit that integrates a coil spring with a shock absorber. Struts are
used on front wheel drive automobiles. A suspension element in which a reinforced
shock absorber is used as one of the
wheel's locating members, typically by solidly bolting the wheel hub to the
bottom end of the strut.
Stock Car Racing
Started by NASCAR's founder, Bill France, in the 1940s. Initially meant track
cars equipped with showroom parts. Today, few cars use stock parts. Most are
built from custom parts, made especially for these race cars, that look like
those in showrooms.
The up-and-down distance the piston travels within the cylinder. On a
traditional internal combustion engine, the piston makes four strokes during
the combustion cycle, only one of which is a power stroke. On the power stroke,
the piston is near the top of the cylinder, and it has compressed the air and
fuel mixture. The spark plug ignites the mixture, and the force of the
explosion pushes the piston down into the cylinder, producing the force that
turns the crankshaft. The piston returns to the top of the cylinder to expel
the exhaust gases on the second, or exhaust, stroke. It slides down to the
bottom of the cylinder during the intake stroke, when the valves open to let in
air and fuel. The piston rises to the top of the cylinder on the compression
stroke to begin the cycle anew. This process repeats hundreds or thousands of
times a minute, resulting in the number of crankshaft revolutions per minute at
which the crankshaft is rotating. Length measured in millimeters.
The car size class one step up from the mini-car, like the Rover 45 an Austin
Car doors that open from the
front rather than the rear, by being hinged beneath the windscreen or rear
window. Although most often thought of as applying to rear doors of four-door
cars, several early models had suicide-style front doors. Some of the last
suicide doors to appear on an American car were on the '1960's Lincolns. In 2002 Mazda introduced a car called the RX8 which brought back this obscure
Serves the same function as a turbocharger but avoids lag time because it runs
off an engine-driven pump. Both turbochargers and superchargers are used to
produce more power without increasing engine displacement, but neither are
particularly fuel efficient and both can require costly maintenance as vehicles
age. A standard piece of equipment of Hotrods and Top Fuel dragsters, this
provides more power by blowing a combination of more air and vaporized fuel
into the car's engine.
Springs, dampers, shock absorbers, hydraulics, wishbones, roll bars, struts,
and links used to suspend the frame, body and engine above the wheels.
The space in the engine block under the crankshaft into which
the oil drains from its various applications.
The variety an quality of
function controls the driver can utilize while driving.
Engine lubricant not derived from raw petroleum. It has superior engine-protection
properties but costs as much as five times more than petroleum oil.
T-top; Targa top
A hand removable plastic roof, as
with TVR's Tuscan model, leaving a T shaped roof opening.
The instrument gauge that shows engine speed, or revolutions per minute. On a
vehicle with manual transmission, the driver can use the tachometer to tell
when to upshift or downshift. Also called tach.
A pivoting actuator that opens and closes cylinder intake and exhaust valves.
A machine which
counts the travel-time of a taxi journey.
Throttle-Body Fuel Injection
A form of electronic fuel injection in which the injectors are centrally
located in a throttle-body housing that contains a valve to regulate air flow
through the intake manifold. Less efficient and precise than multi-port or
sequential fuel injection.
On overhead cam equipped engines,
an external belt used to synchronize the operation of intake/exhaust valves
with the compression/ignition process occurring in the cylinder head and engine
A valve in a fuel injection pump which times the delivery of fuel.
Tie Rod End
A type of ball joint which
transfers the movements of the steering wheel to the wheels.
A wheel-alignment term that indicates the leading edges of a pair of wheels
angle slightly toward each other. Front-drive cars are often aligned with
slight toe-in to compensate for the effects of torque steer, or the tendency of
the front wheels to pull to the side under hard acceleration.
A wheel-alignment term that indicates the leading edges of a pair of wheels
angle slightly away from each other.
The fastest of drag racing vehicles, these have a characteristically long body
and use top fuel which accounts for the tremendous speeds these vehicles can
A measure of twisting force, given in foot-pounds (abbreviated as lb.-ft.) or
Newton-meters (N-m). In the case of an automobile, it is the twisting or
rotational force the engine exerts on the crankshaft. Vehicle specifications
often include the maximum torque an engine produces at a specific number of
revolutions. An engine that produces 200 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 revolutions
per minute, or 200 lb.-ft.@ 3,000 rpm, accelerates better at low speeds than an
engine that provides 200 lb.-ft.@5,000 rpm.
An enclosed device connected to the crankshaft that uses a turbine-based system
and a thin fluid (ATF) to propel the movement of the automatic transmission
mainshaft. As opposed to an automobile equipped with a manual transmission and
clutch that must be engaged/disengaged, this "fluid" connection
between the engine and the wheels is what enables a car to come to a full stop
with its automatic transmission still in gear.
The tendency of the front wheels on a front-drive vehicle to pull to the side
under hard acceleration.
The amount of torque derived
power effort, in pounds per foot, over the tonnage of the vehicle.
A simple, rugged type of suspension spring that twists as it is compressed or
A vehicle body's resistance to twisting motions.
The amount of weight a vehicle can tow behind it, eg a trailer carrying a
Vehicle width, measured from the center of one tyre's contact patch to the
center of the opposite tyre's contact patch. 2 - a racing surface at
race-course, like at Silverstone in the UK.
A system for limiting wheel slip under acceleration, thus maintaining each
wheel's contact with the road surface. Traction-control systems generally use
the anti-lock braking system to stop wheel spin and reduce power from one or
more engine cylinders when an electronic sensor detects wheel spin.
The amount of friction between the tyre and the ground.
The amount a dealership credits you for the used vehicle you provide as partial
payment for another vehicle. The amount credited is often about 5 percent below
the vehicle's wholesale market value.
On four-wheel drive vehicles, a gearbox that allows power to be delivered to
front and rear wheels.
A transmission and differential
housed together in the same enclosure. This setup is most commonly found in
today's front-wheel-drive-dominated car (not truck) market. The transmission
and differential are married together because no drive shaft is required in
front-wheel drive (front engine) vehicles.
The transmission is used to take the high-speed, low-torque power of the engine
and convert it to a lower-speed, higher-torque output, which ultimately turns
the drive wheels. Transmissions come in a wide variety of choices, but they
basically divide into three categories: Manual, Automatic, and Manumatic. Lower
gears allow fast acceleration, higher gears provide better gas mileage. Manual
transmission uses a system of gears to create the high torque output required
from the engine's high speed input. A clutch is used to disengage the
transmission from the engine when shifting gears. Automatic transmissions do
the shifting for the driver. No clutch is required. The shifting is
accomplished by a hydraulic oil system. Manumatic transmissions are a hybrid of
manual and automatic transmissions. In most cases they require no manually
operated clutch, but they allow for the driver to shift gears manually when
A tyre rating consisting of a number followed by two letters, such as 300AB.
The number indicates the useful life of the tyre, the first letter (A, B, or C,
A for best, C for worst) indicates its traction in wet conditions, and the
second letter (A, B, or C, A for best, C for worst) its resistance to heat
A fully independent rear suspension featuring a single fiberglass or composite
the embellishments added
to the cars interior that give it identity an character, such as leather, wood,
fabric, chrome etc.
The level of options or features added to a model (as like with a GT version).
An optional extra as selected by the customer, like an airbag, doesn't
instigate a new trim level. Only the car maker selects the attributes to a car
to make it a special variant of the basic version, which is the 'factory
standard' version, an is the cheapest within the range.
The actual velocity a body moves
at as opposed to the reading given by internal instrumentation. Used by speed
cameras an police with timing guns in speed-traps.
A regularly scheduled maintenance to check normal operation of the vehicle.
An integral piece of the
turbocharger, this small fan drives the compressor. A rotor with vanes or
blades which is driven by the movement of fluid or gases across its surface.
The turbine wheel in a turbocharger spins as a result of exhaust gases. In a
torque converter, a turbine is used to propel ATF within the unit.
The time it takes the turbocharger to kick in after the driver accelerates; the
lag results because a turbocharger compressor is spun by exhaust gases in the
Device that compresses and forces extra air into the intake manifold to produce
extra power. Both turbochargers and superchargers are used to produce more
power without increasing engine displacement, but neither are particularly fuel
efficient and both can require costly maintenance as vehicles age. By forcing
fuel through the engine, this system allows the car to gather more speed.
Usually they're made by specialist component makers like
Roots, X-Trac, Bosch, etc.
The minimum distance a car needs
to turn around in one step. A low figure is a prerequisite for a proper Taxi
deign, an in the venues of big cities is a regulation.
A semi-independent rear axle often used on front-drive vehicles. The horizontal
beam, which connects the two rear wheels, can twist to reduce the effect of one
wheel's motion on the other. Less expensive and more compact than fully
Occurs when the front wheels have lost adhesion or the driver is turning the
steering wheel too sharply for the vehicle's speed. In understeer, the front
wheels do not follow the steering wheel angle, and the car refuses to turn and
pushes ahead. In motor sports, this is called push. The driver can regain
traction by reducing speed. Also may be called plow.
Tire whose tread pattern is designed to get optimum traction only when the tyre
is mounted to roll in one direction.
A type of body construction that doesn't require a separate
frame to provide structural strength or support for the car's mechanical
components. A unitized body can employ monocoque construction, or it can
utilize strong structural elements as an integral part of its construction.
Before 1980 cars were built almost exclusively from frames. In
other words, underneath everything was a basic rectangular steel assembly.
Everything else on the car attached to the frame in one way or another. Today,
nearly every car and many trucks are built on the "unibody" concept,
for reasons of weight and cost. Unibody construction uses the body assembly
itself to create the infrastructure of the vehicle and is constructed in most
cases by spot welding together hundreds of smaller metal assemblies. On a
modern assembly line you may see automated spot welders sparking away on hunks
of sheet metal, eventually forming a car body.
A joint that transmits rotary motion between two shafts that aren't in a
straight line. Depending on its design, a universal joint can accommodate a
large angular variation between its inputs and outputs. The simplest kind of
universal joint, called a "Hooke joint," causes the output shaft to
speed up and slow down twice for every revolution of the input shaft. This
speed fluctuation increases with the angular difference between the shafts.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Insurance which pays for costs resulting from a hit-and-run or an accident with
an uninsured motorist.
A vehicle with six cylinders. The cylinders are divided into two banks, each of
which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a 'V'. Typically, this
angle is 60 degrees on V-6 engines.
A vehicle with eight cylinders. The cylinders are divided into two banks, each
of which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a 'V'. Typically,
this angle is 90 degrees on V-8 engines
A vehicle with a dozen cylinders.
The cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is facing each other at
the top, an slightly forms a 'V' shape. Typically this angle is 30 degrees on
most V-12 engines. Occasionally two V6 engines can be combined to act as a V12.
The valves and camshaft(s) within an engine, and any parts attached to the
valves, such as rockers and pushrods, to move them up and down.
Many overhead-cam engines, particularly multi-valve models, are described by
the total number of intake and exhaust valves in the cylinder head. A 24-valve
V-6 engine would have four valves per cylinder: two intake and two exhaust
valves. A 16-valve V-8 engine has only the standard single exhaust and single
intake valve for each of its eight cylinders.
The valve number per cylinder and
the cam number plus its position.
A high-rpm engine condition in which the valve lifters lose
contact with the cam lobes because the valve springs are not strong enough to
overcome the momentum of the various valvetrain components. The onset of valve
float prevents higher-rpm operation. Extended periods of valve float will
damage the valvetrain.
Also called a "valve follower": the cylindrically shaped component
that presses against the lobe of a camshaft and moves up and down as the cam
lobe rotates. Most valve lifters have an oil-lubricated hardened face that
slides on the cam lobe. So-called "roller lifters," however, have a
small roller in contact with the cam lobe: thereby reducing the friction
between the cam lobe and the lifter.
The collection of parts that make the valves operate. The valvetrain includes
the camshaft(s) and all related drive components, the various parts that
convert the camshaft's rotary motion into reciprocating motion at the valves,
and the valves and their associated parts.
A particular kind of fluid coupling in which the input and output shafts mate
with thin, alternately spaced discs in a cylindrical chamber. The chamber is
filled with a viscous fluid that tends to cling to the discs, thereby resisting
speed differences between the two shafts. Viscous couplings are used to limit
the speed difference between the two outputs of a differential, or between the
two axles of a car.
A box-shaped truck with a forward cab and a cargo area to the back bumper.
A power-steering system that varies the amount of assistance it provides
according to driving conditions. It provides maximum assistance at low speeds
for maneuvers such as turning into a parking space or turning a corner after
leaving a stop light. It provides minimum assistance at cruising or highway
speeds to provide greater vehicle stability.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
A seventeen-digit identification number, unique to each vehicle, which includes
codes for the manufacturer, year, model, body, and engine specifications.
Vented Disc Brakes
A brake disc that has cooling passages between the friction surfaces.
In a V-6, V-8 or V-12 engine, the cylinders are divided into two banks, each of
which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a 'V'. Typically, this
angle is 60 degrees on V-6 engines and 90 degrees on V-8 engines. From the rear
are identified by having twin exhaust pipes, an by ear have a deep rumble
A valve used to limit the boost developed in a turbocharger. A
waste gate operates by allowing some of the engine's exhaust flow to bypass the
turbocharger's turbine section under certain conditions.
The pump that circulates coolant through the engine block, cylinder head and
radiator. It is driven by the engine crankshaft.
Measured in Kg, representing the
balance, control an stability, with the centre of gravity acting as the
Determined by the diameter and width of the wheel on which the tyre is mounted.
A 15-inch wheel has a diameter of 15 inches. A 15 X 7 wheel has a 15-inch
diameter and a 7-inch width.
The distance between the center of the front wheels to the center of rear
A mainstay in drag races, this refers to when the front end of car lifts up
during a race. It is also known as a wheelie.
An undesirable suspension characteristic in which a wheel (or
several) moves up and down so violently that it actually leaves the ground.
Wheel hop can be caused by many problems, including excessive unsprung weight,
insufficient shock damping, or poor torsional axle control.
When a wheel continues turning
after its lost traction during a sharp turn, or looses surface contact while
over uneven ground.
The area of space between a wheel
and the fender that shrouds it. The arch follows the profile of the wheel size.
2 body panels that exist either
rear side, beneath the trunk cover, partly enclosing the rear-wheel-space.
The high-point of NASCAR racing, a race that spans the entire season as drivers
accumulate points at each of 31 events. The driver that accumulates the most
points, not the most wins, becomes the eventual Winston Cup winner.
Refers to a vehicle which has
part of its side body-panels covered or replaced with decorative wood.
The name given to the famous
chassis designs used by Jaguar since the 1960s, such as the XJ, XK an X-type.
This is used by law enforcement
agencies when searching for illegal materials concealed within the door panels
an bodywork of cars, such as Semtex an heroin.
The rotation about a vertical axis that passes through the car's center of
The only car company named after
a country that no longer exists, ie Yugoslavia.
A steering system whose geometry has a scrub radius of zero. This configuration
minimizes the steering effects produced during acceleration (with front drive)
or braking on varying traction surfaces.
The plain of movement a road
vehicle cant access.
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