11 car vocabularies Nigerians always use wrongly; we learn everyday


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Nobody is perfect when it comes to cars and this is why you need to learn every day. Click here to update your vocabularies, especially the car vocabularies Nigerians always use wrongly.

We live in a country where almost every popular car has a funny nickname that just sticks. Pencil Light Camry, Evil Spirit, Big Daddy, Pure Water e.t.c are some common nicknames for cars in Nigeria but something is crazier than that.

Nigerians, especially mechanics have a set of wrong vocabularies when it comes to cars but nobody notices because we all have gotten so used to it that it sounds grammatically and technically correct. I have come up with 11 car vocabularies Nigerians always use wrongly and this is why we would be trashing out all the wrong set of car vocabulary that you have been used to, so it can be replaced with the correct word or expression.

Consider this article the school of car vocabularies.

11 car vocabularies Nigerians always use wrongly

1. Grille as Basket

Uncle Jide; a very popular mechanic in Mile 2 mechanic village Lagos kept telling his client that the basket in front of his car had to be changed and I was just there wondering what basket could mean on a car. It was later I realized that it was the front grille he was referring to. Apparently, the car was involved in a minor crash and the front grille broke.

>>> What should you do after a car accident?


Grilles on new cars are just getting bigger

The grille on a car is that mesh in front of the car that allows air rush into the engine compartment of the car to help it cool and also provide the air needed for the engine to function properly. It also carries the car logo most of the times. 


This is what a traditional grille looks like

Most cars today have the lower grille and the upper grille which is the main grille. The grille is the word guys, not basket or net. The grille of a car is one of the parts on a car that can easily be replaced to give the car extra beauty.

2. Turn signal as Trafficate

Think of one word that sounds so correct but is actually very wrong. Trafficate is the word!. There is no word like trafficate in the dictionary but in Nigeria, it means when you switch on either of the turn signal lights.


Most indicator lights are yellow and they are as important as a car engine

This word ‘trafficate’ has probably soaked into your mind but the moment you check the dictionary and find out there is no word like that, you will accept this gospel.


Always use your turn signal to signal road users of your next move

The name of the button that triggers the turn signal is simply called the ‘turn signal switch’.

3. Hazard light as Double-Pointer

Double pointer also sounds so correct but is entirely wrong. I mean, if a car was manufactured in Nigeria with its manufacturer re-naming the ‘Hazard Light’ as double-pointer then we have no issues with that but till then, there is nothing like the ‘Double Pointer’.


The hazard sign is gotten from two red triangles

The hazard light is the light you switch on when you are trying to alert every road user that you are in distress. It flashes both left and right turn signal light at the same time.


Here is a car with the Hazard light on 

Some even call it double trafficator light. Very wrong sir/ma.

4. Throttle Pedal as Turtle

Does ‘press the turtle’ sound familiar? If you board any public transit often then you would have heard the world ‘turtle’ being used to describe the ‘throttle pedal’ which is what makes a car move forward or backward.


Still can't believe we named this turtle

The ‘turtle’ most people say actually means ‘throttle’ but even ‘throttle’ is an action word and not a part of the car. Throttle means when you make something move faster. The correct phrase to describe that gas pedal that moves your car is ‘Throttle Pedal’ like I mentioned earlier.

5. Bumper as Bomber

The word ‘bomber’ is just a wrong pronunciation of the word ‘bumper’ which is the protective part of a car’s front and rear. When mechanics say ‘bomba’ always correct them immediately because these words spread fast and the word ‘bomba’ can cause problems for you outside Nigeria.


Bumpers protect your car while bombers destroy them

Imagine going to a car parts store in the USA and saying ‘I need a bomba for my Avalon’. They would just assume you are a criminal of some sort.

6. Rear Bumper as Fender

Another miseducation about cars I noticed is that a lot of people argue that the Fender is the rear protector of the car while the bumper is the front protector of the car and this is wrong.


That part in Red is the Fender

The fender is the part of the car that protects the two sides of the engine bay. It is the part that protects the front end of the car up to the front doors.

This means we have the front bumper, rear bumper and fender.

7. Instrument Cluster as Dashboard

The dashboard in cars used to be originally the front part of even before the invention of a speedometer or the radio. When cars got advanced, the dashboard had a major part called the instrument cluster.


The Dashboard is more of the full front of the car

The instrument cluster is the part of the car that has all the gauges; the fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, temperature gauge and tachometer.


Instrument Cluster simply means the gauges 

So, if you want to refer to the part of the car with gauges it is safer to use the word instrument cluster and not the dashboard.

8. Infotainment as Radio

These days, cars have way more than radio as a form of entertainment. The word to use is ‘infotainment system’.


These days, car infotainment is way more than radio

An infotainment system is a device in cars that allows drivers to be entertained because it is able to play music & videos via different sources. Some infotainment system these days even allow people to browse the Internet.

9. Bodykit as Padded/Padding

This is one of the secrets to know when dealing with a Nigerian mechanic. I really don’t know where Nigerian mechanics learnt that the word ‘padded/padding’ means the body kit on a car. Once any Nigerian mechanic sees a car with a protruding body kit they just call it padded/padding and these words have been adopted by customers too. 


Bodykits make your car beautiful, faster and more balanced...they don't pad anything

A friend who drives a Lexus IS250 was trying to tell me he needed body kits to make his car look sportier. I mean, he wanted to pimp the car but he was not communicating properly cause he kept saying ‘I need padding for my Lexus’.


Almost everything on a car has a name...this is a side skirt

The kit on the side of a car is called the side skirt, the one in front is called the front spoiler or bumper lip while the one at the rear is the rear diffuser or the rear bumper add-on.

10. Steering wheel as Steering

There is a huge difference between the steering and the steering wheel. Steering is the act of turning the wheel to change the direction of a car while the steering wheel is the round part of a car that every driver uses in controlling the car.


The steering wheel steers the car but we are all about the correct words

Most people just say ‘I am holding my steering’ very wrong because you ‘steering’ is not a thing, the steering wheel is the thing to hold and turn.

11. Reverse Back

The last on the list today is this tautology of saying ‘reverse back’.


That man is probably saying 'Reverse Back'

Reversing already means when a car is driving backwards. Stop adding back when you say 'reverse'.


Now, you have learnt about 11 car vocabularies Nigerians always use wrongly. We hope you apply them daily when talking about cars and also educate people around you. Consider our website, Naijauto.com. your playground for anything relating to cars in Nigeria. 

>>> Get brand new, foreign used, and locally used cars on our car for sale section. Do check them out!




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Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

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