Field's Guide To Car Jargon
ABS – Anti-Lock Braking System. This system takes control of your brakes when it senses that your wheels might be locking up and skidding. The ABS rapidly applies and releases your brakes. The main benefit of this is to help give you steering control under heavy braking (when ABS activates it sounds surprisingly loud – and the brake pedal will vibrate).
Air Conditioning – Often known as AC, air conditioning provides cold air through the heating vents inside your car. It can also be used in winter to clear the screen quickly when the dial is turned to warm air.
Airbag – A highly effective safety device. Airbags are commonly found in steering wheels, in front of the front passenger seat. When you have a crash, they immediately inflate, protecting you from hitting hard objects within the car and helping to slow your forward movement as safely as possible.
Brake Caliper – The brake caliper is the part of the brake that squeezes the brake discs under braking, slowing the rotation of the wheels.
Brake Disc – Each wheel of a car has its own brake. The most common type of brake used on modern cars is the disc brake. This is a rotating metal disc that is fixed so that it always turns with the wheel. When the brakes are applied, a clamp (called a brake caliper) squeezes the disc, slowing the rotation of the wheel.
Brake Pad – Brake pads are the part of a brake caliper that meets the brake disc when the brakes are applied. The pads are made of a hard material that rubs smoothly against the metal disc and gradually wears down, needing replacing.
Cam Belt – The cambelt, or timing belt, is a rubber belt that drives the moving parts inside the top of the engine. Cambelts have specified replacement intervals (see your car’s service manual) and it is very important to have your cambelt replaced on schedule. If your car’s cambelt breaks, it will instantly cause huge damage inside the engine that could cost hundreds of pounds to repair. Not all engines have timing belts, some have timing chains instead – these don’t need replacing.
Catalytic Converter – Since 1993, cars with petrol engines have all had to have catalytic converters (sometimes known as ‘cats’). These are fitted as part of the car’s exhaust and do a great job of reducing harmful emissions (e.g. carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide) by turning them into less harmful gases or water vapour. They are generally reliable and last well but occasionally fail.
CO2 Emissions – One of the gases that comes out of car exhausts (petrol and diesel) is Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that is thought to be responsible for climate change and so car manufacturers are working hard to lower their car’s CO2 emissions.
More importantly, the cost of UK car tax for cars made since 2001 is now calculated based on the car’s CO2 emissions – lower emissions means cheaper car tax.
Cruise Control – An electronic system mostly fitted to larger cars that enables you to set a fixed speed for the car and then take your foot off the accelerator. The cruise control will automatically maintain a fixed speed until you brake or accelerate. Can be good for those long runs on quiet motorways - is there such a thing?
HPI Check – An HPI Check allows you to ensure that a car has no outstanding finance, has not been reported stolen and has not been written off by an insurance company. It’s an important check to consider doing when you are buying a used car because cars that are stolen or have outstanding finance can be repossessed without any compensation to the current owner (you).
Hybrid – a car that has both an internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel engine) and an electric motor with batteries. The electric motor is used when possible with the regular engine providing additional power when necessary (and charging the batteries). Hybrids are increasingly popular as they provide lower emissions and good fuel economy.
Immobiliser – an immobiliser is a piece of electronic theft prevention equipment that is wired into your car’s ignition system. When the immobiliser is active, you can’t start the engine – even with the key.
Jack – The jack is the piece of equipment used to lift one corner of the car off the ground so that you can change a wheel. Cars all come with a suitable jack that will fit correctly into the cars jacking points.
Jacking points – specified places on the chassis (framework) of a car that are designed to fit the car’s jack and enable one corner of the car to be lifted off the ground. Your car’s manual will tell you where you car’s jacking points are – never put the jack anywhere else as damage to the car will result and the car may unexpectedly fall off the jack.
Load Capacity – The maximum weight that can be carried in a car (or any vehicle). You aren’t normally likely to exceed this in a car unless you load the boot and rear seats very heavily or are towing a trailer that is incorrectly loaded or too heavy for your car.
Locking wheel nut key - This is a small key in the shape of a wheel nut. If you have alloy wheels it will most likely be fitted with locking wheel nuts so make sure you know where this key is located in your car, normally kept in the boot with the spare wheel or in the glove box.
MOT – The MOT is an annual test required for all private cars aged three years and over. The test checks a number of safety related items to make sure your vehicle is legal to use on the road. The MOT test does not include any maintenance or repair work and nothing is taken apart. Here is a list of the items that are checked during an MOT inspection. (LINK).
V5C – Vehicle Registration document, issued by the DVLA. A large, multicoloured document that has all the details about your vehicle and must be updated when you move house or when you buy or sell a car. See the rear of the V5C for full instructions on how to use it. Always keep it safe and never buy a car without one.
VIN – Vehicle Identification Number. A unique string of numbers and letters that identifies your car. Usually found on a plate under the bonnet (at the front) and often on a panel at the base of the front windscreen. The VIN on a car should match the VIN on its car’s V5C. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.
O/S/F - This refers to the drivers side front
N/S/F - This refers to the passenger side front
O/S/R - This refers to the drivers side rear
N/S/R - This refers to the passenger side rear
If you need any further help - call us at Fields Car Centre 01483 766634
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