15 commonly used auto jargons and their meanings


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Ever found yourself at a loss of words when trying to explain your car problem to a mechanic, or stuck in a jargon-filled, car-related conversation you know absolutely nothing about? We have composed a list that might be able to help.

There are times when you probably would find it useful to know the meaning of rather cryptic terms on automotive magazines, blog posts, or even your car’s instruction manual. Read on for the list of 15 most common car terminologies that you will likely come across.

1. AWD

This acronym stands for All-Wheel Drive. AWD engines simultaneously transmit power to all four wheels to propel the car, hence the name.

2. FWD

This acronym stands for Front-Wheel Drive. FWD engines only deliver the power to the front wheels. This type of transmission layout is often said to be more fuel efficient and budget-friendly.

3. RWD

This stands for Rear-Wheel Drive. In this case, all the power needed to push the car forward is sent to, you guessed it, the rear wheels. The front wheels therefore don’t receive any power from the engine and are exclusively used to manoeuver the car. This creates the higher flexibility and better balance of weight, which is why most sports cars are RWD.

4. 4WD

This acronym stands for Four-Wheel Drive. A 4WD system is a more rugged version of the AWD with less traction. A part-time 4WD system will allow the driver to switch to RWD format to conserve fuel, while a full-time 4WD does not allow such option.

5. Drivetrain

The drivetrain of a vehicle consists of the different components such as transmission, axles, propeller shaft, etc. that collectively deliver the engine power to the driving wheels. Depending on the transmission layout, engine power is transferred to the front, rear, or all four wheels. The wheels that receive power are the drive wheels that propel the vehicle forward.

6. Drophead

A drophead Rolls Royce

Drophead, or ‘convertible’, is a British term mostly used by Rolls Royce

A convertible, or drophead, is an automotive body type equipped with a flexible, top-down roof that can be opened or closed to convert between an enclosed cabin and an open-air mode. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

7. Coupe

A dark navy colored coupe

A coupe is a fixed-roof car that is shorter and sportier than a sedan (or saloon)

In Nigeria, you might be more familiar with the term “two doors”, which is another name for coupe cars.

8. Horsepower

A horsepower is a unit of measurement of how much energy your car engine can produce. In physics, engine horsepower is simply the rate at which the car engine performs work.

>>> You might also want to read: What are differences between the 6-cylinder engine and the V6 engine?

9. Torque

Torque is defined as the rotating force that a given amount of power can generate. The more horsepower an engine produces, the more torque potential there is from the engine.

10. Pound-foot

Abbreviated as lb.-ft, this is used as a unit of torque.

11. OBD

This stands for ‘On-Board Diagnostic’, a built-in computer system that is available in all car models manufactured after the year 1996. The OBD system monitors the status of your car to detect and troubleshoot potential problems or malfunctions.

12. ABS

ABS icon

ABS stands for ‘Antilock Brake System’

This stands for ‘Antilock Brake System’, a safety feature first introduced in 1985 to monitor the car brakes with sensors in order to prevent skidding during panic stops.

13. Oversteer

This is the situation when you are cornering and the rear tires lose traction before the front tires, which results in the end of the car stepping out and the vehicle will start to go sideways.

14. Understeer

This is the same as oversteer, except that it is the front tires that lose traction before the rear tires, which causes the rear to grip the road and the car to steer less than what is commanded by the driver.

15. Throttle blip

This refers to a rev-matching technique where the driver momentarily stabs the throttle in order to raise the engine revs.

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