Automotive Jargon Buster

We've gone through all the car jargon that you could possibly think of, allowing you to avoid confusion when it comes to reading key automotive terms.

Whether you’re buying a car or selling it, it can be so easy to get lost in all the car jargon and understanding what it all means. That’s why we’ve put together this jargon buster to help you out.

Antilock braking system

An automatic system, which prevents the wheels from locking during emergency braking. It’s pretty self-explanatory really. It also helps to improve steering control and reduce stopping distances.

Automatic transmission

This does what it says on the tin. If your car has an automatic transmission then it will shift through the gears automatically and you won’t have to lift a finger.


You’ve probably heard of this term before, which stands for auxiliary. This is the audio connection and allows you to connect your phone, tablet and whatever other devices to your car’s built-in audio system.


Designed to release in the event of a collision, an airbag is essentially an inflatable cushion that helps passengers from colliding with hard surfaces inside the car.

Air filter

If you’ve ever heard of the term ‘air filter’ before, this refers to a filter that is composed of fibrous materials. Its job is to prevent dirt, dust and debris, as well as other contaminants from entering the engine.


This refers to brake horsepower. This is the standard measurement of the power of an engine. Generally, the higher a car’s BHP, the higher it’s top speed.

Black box telematics

Black boxes are very common these days, especially for young drivers. It is a device that is fitted into your car, which allows for your insurance provider to collect and analyse data on how you drive. It’s a great device used to assess risk.

Blindspot monitor

This monitor is brilliant for helping to warn drivers if another vehicle is positioned in their blindspot. There is also ‘active blindspot assist’, which when used in certain circumstances, can help to enable the car to take action in the event of danger.


The chassis is a term that is used to describe the base frame of a vehicle along with all the mechanical parts that are attached to it. So as technical as this term may sound, it’s actually


Also referred to as antifreeze, the coolant is necessary for your car as it protects the climate control system. Its job is to disperse any excess heat as it prevents parts from freezing up.

Cross-traffic alert

You might never have heard of this one before, but it’s so clever. Cross-traffic alert involves sensors that are used to monitor and alert drivers to any passing traffic within their blind spot. Incredible, isn’t it? This is very handy when it comes to emerging out of a parking space.

Cruise control

The automatic system, which helps to control the car’s speed, keeping it at a steady pace and is set by the driver.

Cut and shut

This is an accident damaged car that has been illegally put back together, often with parts from different vehicles to form one part.


There are various cylinder arrangements but you will always find this part of the engine between the crankcase and the cylinder head. Here is where the magic happens and the ignition of fuel takes place.


The dampers are a key component of a car’s suspension and are sometimes referred to as ‘shock absorbers’.


Believe it or not, but all the different parts that make up a car all work together to deliver power to the wheels. Although you might not even think about this when your driving, the components used to do this differ depending on the vehicle itself and whether its manual, automatic, front-wheel or four-wheel drive.

Electric stability control

To help assist both understeer and oversteer, as well as to improve car safety, electric stability control works to help apply the brakes to a particular wheel if the car begins to lose control.


An electric vehicle. This refers to cars that are powered purely by an electric motor. This can also include hybrids, E-REVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles too.

Full-service history

A full-service history refers to a car that has a full log of all regular maintenance that has occurred and has also received service stamps from approved outlets.

Fuel injection

This is a system in which automised fuel is applied to the combustion chamber of each cylinder within the car’s engine.

Front-wheel drive

This refers to the engine power that is channelled directly to only the front wheels of the car.


You’ve probably heard of ‘GPS’ and when it comes to GPS in vehicles, this refers to the digital navigation system. You’ll find these built into many modern vehicles these days and it works in a way that uses your current location to deliver the best route to your destination.

Gross weight

The gross weight of a car is the total weight of a car, plus its maximum amount of people and cargo.


This is the standard unit measurement that measures an engines work rate. It basically works to give you an idea of exactly how much a car can overcome issues such as weight and drag when moving. The way it is calculated is by multiplying torque by speed.

HPI Check

If you’re looking to buy a used car, then it’s a good idea to check that it has got this extensive service history, commonly known as an HPI Check.


Imagine an engine powered by both petrol and electricity? Hybrid models can jump between the two, that’s how efficient they are.


Most cars tend to have these nowadays. As technology enhances, you’ll find that more and more cars are fitted with this electronic safety device that prevents the engine from turning on unless the correct key is in use.


Refers to a car that has been raised off the ground by its suspension.

Kerb weight

This is the weight of a car with just fuel, oil, and water inside.


You’re likely to find these in your low-beam headlights, brake lights, and indicators. They also use much less power than a standard bulb.

List price

This refers to the cost of a car as soon as it is driven off the forecourt and before any depreciation has occurred. In theory, this is the maximum price that somebody would pay for a car.


The make or brand of a vehicle, for example, BMW, Mercedes or Rolls-Royce.


Miles per gallon. Yes, this is the number of miles a car can travel for every gallon of fuel that it consumes.


Miles per hour. The number of miles a vehicle can travel at a constant speed over the period of an hour.

Naturally aspirated

An engine where the cylinders draw in the fuel mixture under atmospheric pressure. This is performed by the suction action of the pistons during induction.


The device used to record mileage throughout your vehicle’s lifetime and is also known as a milometer.

Parking sensors

If your car has parking sensors then you’ll find these on the bumpers of the car. The purpose of these sensors is to assist the driver when parking next to or against another vehicle, as well as objects. If you’re too close, you’ll hear a beeping sound inside the car.


This abbreviation refers to Pounds per square inch and is a measurement of pressure that is used when measuring your tyre pressure.

Power steering

Any form of steering, that is assisted by electric or hydraulic motors. This basically reduces the amount of effort that is required by the driver to turn the wheels at low speed.


The distance that an electric vehicle can travel on pure electric power before it needs charging.

Road Tax Band

A vehicle’s grouping, which specifies the amount of annual tax that must be paid. In the UK, the bands range from A (least) to M (most) and are dependant on the amount of C02 that is produced.

Rear Wheel Drive

The opposite of front-wheel drive, this is where all power is transferred to the rear wheels only.

Statutory Off-Road Notification

Also known as a SORN, this occurs when you register a vehicle that you no longer use on the road to the DVLA. In return, you will receive excemption from paying vehicle tax.


The purpose of stop-start is to help to save fuel. In doing this, the vehicle will temporarily shut down when stationary. When you start moving again, it will start up again.


This refers to the type of gearbox that is fitted within a vehicle. The two different types that you may well have heard of automatic and manual. Semi-automatic versions are also available to.


When put in simple terms, torque refers to a measurement that is used to tell you how much pulling power that an engine generates.


If you want more power, then getting a car that is equipped with a turbocharger is what you need. It works by getting more air into the cylinders by compressing it and blowing it in.


These are devices that are operated by the camshaft, which open and close around the combustion chamber. The way in which they work is to allow the fuel mixture in and exhaust gases out.

Vehicle Registration Mark

This is also referred to as the VRM, which is basically a vehicle’s number plate.


This is the distance between the centre points of the front and rear wheels.


You would have heard this term if your car has ever been involved within an accident and the cost to repair it is higher than the cost to replace it. Often these cars get scrapped instead of being repaired.

So now that you’ve got your head around all this confusing car terminology, if you ever want to get a value for your car and find out how much it’s worth, maybe you want to upgrade and get yourself on that is turbocharged, then let us help you to sell your car. Just head over to our valuation page and we’ll help you find the car buyer for you.

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