Jargon Buster for New and Used Cars
ABC Active Body Control. This system uses a number of
sensors to monitor the body movement of a car at
all times. It can then adjust the suspension
accordingly, helping to reduce body roll when
braking, cornering or accelerating.
A/C Air Conditioning.
ALR Automatic Locking Retractor, also goes under the name emergency locking retractor. Seatbelts usually have an emergency locking feature.
Auto Automatic transmission a car with no clutch or manual gears.
AWD All-Wheel Drive. The majority of cars are two wheel drive vehicles, with the engine driving through either the front or back wheels. AWD provides improved traction off road or in freezing conditions (snow and ice), worth remembering though that they do increase fuel consumption.
APR Annual percentage rate the real cost of the loan you take out on your car.
AYC Active Yaw Control, as used by Mitsubishi on later Evo models to sense and inhibit excessive understeer or oversteer - or yaw. A form of stability control by any other name.
BHP Brake Horse Power. This is a measure of
an engines horsepower without the loss in power
caused by the gearbox, generator, water pump,
differential and any other auxiliary components
such as power steering, alternator or the AC
compressor. The term "brake" refers to the
original use of a band brake to measure torque
during test (which is multiplied by the engine
RPM and a scaling constant to give horsepower).
Brake Assist a system that senses when the brake has been used in an emergency and follows this with an artificial production of maximum braking effort.
BIK Benefit in Kind taxation. The tax imposed on company car users for the notional value of being supplied with a car. Complex scale takes into account value of car, mileage driven and emissions rating.
Biofuel At the moment the availability of cars that can take biofuels is limited but expanding. Biofuels include corn-based ethanol and rapeseed-oil biodiesel.
Catalytic Converter A catalytic converter is
a metal box with chemical catalysts inside it
that sits underneath your car. There's a pipe
going into one end of the converter from the car
engine and another pipe going out of the other
end of the converter to the car's exhaust. The
catalysts make chemical reactions happen that
convert the molecules of pollution into simple,
harmless gases. These are much safer to pass
into the outside air.
C/C Cruise Control. With cruise control you set the speed you want to maintain and the system automatically adjust your engine power in order to maintain this speed. To override this system you can either brake or accelerate.
CO2 Emissions figures detailing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by an engine.
Contract Hire Instead of buying the car outright, with a contract hire deal you can lease it over a set period and then hand it back to the lease company.
CRS Child Restraint System, a much more sinister term for a childs car seat, booster seat or cushion.
CVT Continuously Variable Transmission, an increasingly popular form of automatic transmission which has either no steps at all (unlike a conventional automatic) or a number of fixed steps with steplessly variable ratios between them.
Depreciation Every car loses some of
its value as you drive it. Those that depreciate
the least make the best used cars. The lowest
depreciating cars still lose around 50% of their
value after three years.
DDI Diesel Direct Injection. This is when diesel fuel is squirted directly into the combustion chamber with extreme pressure. This helps to deliver improved control, fuel efficiency and controls noise and vibrations.
DME Digital motor electronics, another name for Electronic Engine Management that controls ignition, fuel injection and other systems for optimum performance, emissions control and efficiency.
DOHC double overhead camshaft, also known as Dual overhead camshaft or twin cam. This is characterized by two camshafts being located within the cylinder head, one for inlet and one for exhaust valves. Typical automotive engines equipped with dual overhead camshafts can have from two to four camshafts in total, depending on the engine configuration. The term Twin Cam doesn't tell the exact location of camshafts, but it is mostly used to describe DOHC structure.
Down-payment The money you pay upfront for a car to reduce your monthly payments.
DSTC Dynamic stability and traction control system, Combines electronic stability control and traction control. Traction control adjusts engine power and sometimes applies brake force to limit the amount the driven wheels can slip when you try to accelerate hard. Stability control senses steering wheel input and car body movement to detect the onset of sliding or spinning. Automatically applies braking effort to individual wheels and adjusts engine power to restore stability.
DVLA The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency where you must record changes of vehicle ownership.
DVD Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. This is the current favoured choice for storing information on a disc. They are used to store anything from music, film and the details for Sat Nav systems.
EBA Electronic Brake Assistance.
EBD Electronic Brake force Distribution. This system helps to balance breaking effort with the front and rear wheels. This is mainly to prevent the rear wheels from locking up as weight transfers forwards, helping to maintain control and stability when hard breaking has occurred.
ECC Electronic Climate Control. This automatically maintains a preset temperature within the car. This is achieved by either cooling or heating the incoming air.
ECU Electronic Control Unit also named electronic engine management. This is an integrated way of controlling functions such as fuel metering and delivery, as well as ignition.
EFI Electronic Fuel Injection. Simply a way of getting fuel into a petrol engine.
EGR Exhaust Gas Recirculation. A system which recirculates a proportion of exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber, to lower combustion temperatures and reduce emissions, particularly of harmful oxides of nitrogen.
ENCAP European New Car Assessment Programme. This is a stringent European wide vehicle testing programme for safety. The safest cars receiving the much sought after 5 star rating.
ESP Electronic Stability Programme. A system which typically uses a series of sensors in order analyse a vehicles cornering stability and when necessary reduce power or selectively apply gentle braking to correct any under or over steer.
FHC Fixed-head coupι, coupι
describes a car with two doors and two seats. A
fixed-head coupι has a roof that you can't fold
down or remove.
FSH Full Service History. Here you will find all the servicing history, along with MOT certificates, repair invoices and other documents giving a comprehensive view of the way the car has been used and maintained.
4WD Four Wheeled Drive.
GPS Global Positioning System. This refers to the use of satellite generated information to calculate a vehicles precise position. The essential reference point for satellite navigation systems.
Hybrid Fuel Referring to a new generation of high efficiency, low emission vehicles typically combining a small petrol car of diesel engine with electric motors, used interactively.
Independent suspension A system
where every wheel is sprung separately so that
if you ride over a bump it does not affect the
entire vehicle this is now fairly standard on
most new cars.
Intelligent Cruise Control you may also hear the term Adaptive Cruise Control. This combines all the functions of cruise control, maintaining a set up speed, together with distance sensing to reduce your speed if needed.
IDI Indirect Diesel Injection. Instead of injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber, the fuel goes into a pre-chamber
I/R/S Independent Rear Suspension. Each rear wheel is mounted and able to move in isolation from the other wheel. This can improve handling and comfort in comparison to cars with rear wheels linked to a common axle.
ISOFIX referring to the standard child restraint system or child seat restraint system. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardisation.
Kit car A car assembled from a collection of parts.
Lease This is a method of car
finance where you take the car for a period of
years and make payments based on the difference
between the retail price and the cars value at
the end of the term. Once this predetermined
term has passed, you must return the vehicle to
the leasing company.
LED Light Emitting Diodes. This is a compact, high intensity, fast reacting light source. LED has numerous uses including alarm system indicators and high intensity stoplights.
MET paint short version of Metallic Paint.
MoT A reference to the Ministry of Transport each car over three years old is required to pass an annual test to prove it is roadworthy.
MPG Miles per gallon
MPV Multi Purpose Vehicle, not multi people vehicle, known more as a people carrier.
NCRS New Car Security System. Basically how easy (or hard) your car is to break into and to drive away.
OBC On Board Computer. You can however
obtain estimated arrival times, fuel
consumption, time to next service etc.
OCD Occupant Detection System. A feature of advanced airbag protection systems. If the system detects that no front passenger is on board then in the event of an accident the airbag will not deploy. The system may also be able to detect the size and position of the passenger, meaning that the airbag can be deployed in a way that provides maximum protection.
PAB Power assisted Breaks.
PAS Power assisted Steering. Providing variable levels of assistance depending on your road speed.
PCP An abbreviation for personal contract purchase, where the driver leases the vehicle over a set period with a mileage limit and has the option to buy or return the vehicle at the end of the term.
PDC Park Distance Control. Sensors will detect obstacles and alert you when you are getting near.
Residual value The resale value of a used car, that it is what it is worth after it has depreciated in value. Those with the strongest residual values are the best to sell on at a later point.
Sat Nav Satellite Navigation. Sat Nav tells
you how to get to where you want to go.
Steering ratio How far you have to turn the steering wheel compared to how far the wheels actually turn.
STC Stability Traction Control system. This combines electronic system control and traction control. Stability control senses steering wheel input and car body movement to detect the onset of sliding or spinning. Traction control adjusts engine power and can apply brake force to limit the amount the driven wheels can slip when accelerating hard.
SUV Sport Utility Vehicle. Also known as 4x4, and certain estate cars.
TA Traffic Announcements (or TP,
Traffic Programme). Interrupts normal programme
with broadcast traffic information.
TDi Turbo-diesel injection/Turbo-direct injection, a turbocharger is a fan driven by the flow of exhaust gases that forces more air into the engine's cylinders. More air means that more fuel can be burned giving a significant increase in power and performance.
TNT Taxed and tested, the car has current road tax and an MoT certificate.
Transponder key The key talks electronically to the car, with complexly coded signals from embedded chips. If key and car dont recognise each other, no-one is going anywhere.
Traction Control see STC
Understeer When a car pushes straight on rather than reacting to turn in the desired steering direction. This is usually a trait of two-wheel drive cars.
VIN Vehicle Identification numbers. A security safeguard, individually coding each car, you will find numbers etched onto numerous components that can include body shell or windscreen.
V5 The logbook for all British cars that is used for registration purposes you should not buy a car without it.
Zetec Fords front-line
performance-enhancing engine technology, and by
extension the badge for Fords sportier
ZEV Standing for zero emissions vehicle, this is a car that produces no harmful emissions whatsoever such as an electric car.