Below are key auto repair terms and descriptions that will help you navigate your way through your auto’s repair from beginning to end.
aftermarket auto parts
Auto repair parts not made by the original manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are made to fit and function the same as the original parts, but they’re often less expensive than OEM parts. Some aftermarket auto parts are redesigned to increase performance.
Also known as: functionally-equivalent auto parts, off-brand auto parts, aftermarket parts, off-make auto parts, performance aftermarket parts
auto air filter
A paper or synthetic filter that blocks dust, dirt and debris as air enters the engine is called an air filter.
Also known as: air filter, auto air filters, car air filter, performance air filter, auto air filter replacements, auto cabin air filter, interior air filter
Four-wheel drive systems increase traction on slippery roads and off-road surfaces. All-wheel drive is different from 4-wheel drive because drivers cannot disengage AWD systems.
Also known as: AWD
Liquid in the cooling system that dissipates heat. Antifreeze prevents freezing during winter, cools the engine in summer and protects the cooling system from corrosion and rust.
Also known as: coolant
auto electrical repair
Auto repairs to the electrical system of a vehicle. Auto electrical repairs may include alternator repair, auto starter repair, ignition repair, and auto electrical wiring repairs or replacement.
Also known as: automobile electrical repair, automotive electrical repair, car electrical repair, auto electrical service
auto power loss
When an engine runs at reduced speed or requires more throttle to maintain speed.
Also known as: car power loss, low power output, automobile hesitating
A vehicle’s catalytic converter isolates exhaust particles and burns them before they leave the tailpipe.
Also known as: cat, catcon
The undercarriage of a vehicle is known as the chassis. The chassis carries all power train and suspension parts.
Also known as: framework, auto case, auto frame, auto undercarriage
The moving suspension components mounted between the vehicle frame and the wheels.
Also known as: car wishbone, auto double wishbone, vehicle suspension
The largest engine section, the crankcase contains the crankshaft.
The rod that transfers power from the engine to the transmission.
Also known as: crank, crank-shaft
domestic auto repair shops
Auto repair garages that specialize in repairs on domestic vehicles. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler (also known as The Big Three) are considered domestic vehicle manufacturers.
When a vehicle’s engine runs fast while the vehicle is stopped and idling.
When too much fuel is in the cylinders and makes starting difficult or impossible.
Also known as: engine flooded with gas, car flooded, engine stall, flooded vehicle
foreign auto repair shops
Foreign auto repair shops perform repairs and maintenance on vehicles manufactured by foreign car companies, including some models built in the United States, including BMW, Toyota, Honda and Lexus.
4WD is a drive system that powers all four wheels and provides better traction during off-road use and poor weather conditions.
Also known as: 4WD, 4×4, four by four, sport utility vehicle
A driving system that powers the front wheels of the vehicle. Front-wheel drive systems can be automatic or manual shift.
Also known as: FWD
The fuel delivery system where injectors (also known as nozzles) spray fuel into the cylinders, giving better fuel control and efficiency.
Also known as: electronic fuel injection (EFI)
The momentary loss of power on acceleration that causes a vehicle to hesitate when gaining speed.
Also known as: engine hesitation, engine sputtering, auto stumbling
The amount of energy produced by a vehicle’s engine.
Also known as: HP, mechanical horsepower, car horsepower, vehicle horsepower, electrical horsepower
The term used to describe a vehicle that is stationary but running.
Also known as: idling, fast idle, slow idle, auto idling
An auto mechanic is a professional who repairs and maintains vehicles.
Also known as: auto mechanic, automobile mechanic, auto repair technician, car mechanic, professional mechanic
mobile auto repair
A mechanic who repairs vehicles on-site is considered a mobile auto repair service. Mobile auto repair shops can often do minor and major repairs and tune-ups.
Also known as: on-site auto repair, mobile auto shop, full-service auto shop, mobile mechanic, mobile auto services, traveling mechanic
OEM auto parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
Auto parts made by the vehicle manufacturer. While they may cost more than aftermarket auto parts, OEM parts usually fit better, last longer and are covered by warranties.
Also known as: Original Equipment Manufacturer parts, stock vehicle parts, stock parts
The term referring to the transmission and engine, the parts that deliver power to the vehicle.
RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)
The speed at which the engine crankshaft is turning. Too-fast or too-slow RPMs are a possible sign of car trouble.
The differential is important for turning and cornering. It’s the gear system that allows one wheel to rotate faster than the other.
Also known as: auto differential, vehicle differential
Rough idling is when the engine shakes and vibrates while the vehicle is running and stationary.
Also known as: vibrations, auto choking, engine sputtering
Auto parts taken from recycled vehicles are called salvage auto parts. These are often inexpensive auto repair parts, but they usually don’t come with warranties because they haven’t been repaired or altered so their reliability can’t be guaranteed. Salvage auto parts are often a last resort for vehicle owners looking for hard-to-find parts for rare or older vehicles.
Also known as: salvage auto parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts, salvaged replacement parts, used car parts, refurbished auto parts, rebuilt auto parts
Serpentine belts are long, continuous belts that runs several automotive engine components, indulging the alternator, power steering pump, air pump and water pump.
Also known as: multi-vee belts, multi-v belts, multi-rib belts, s-belts, serpentine auto belt
The term for a side-to-side motion that causes a vehicle’s tires and steering wheel to shake.
Also known as: car shaking, vehicle vibrations, car shimmying, vehicle shaking
When a vehicle does not accelerate smoothly or quickly enough.
Also known as: auto hesitation, vehicle loss of power
The shock absorbers and springs that create a smoother ride by dampening the motion of a vehicle as it drives is referred to as a vehicle’s suspension.
Also known as: suspension, auto suspension, car suspension, vehicle suspension system repairs
The timing belt is a toothed belt that is operated by the crankshaft and drives the camshaft in a vehicle Broken timing belts cause valves to remain open and can cause engine damage when the valve is struck and bent by a piston.
The underside of a vehicle that supports and creates the framework.
Also known as: automobile framework, car body, auto frame, vehicle chassis
A hose that creates vacuum suction force in the engine. Vacuum hoses move fluids from one part of the engine to another.
Also known as: vacuum hoses, fluid hoses, engine hoses, engine fluid hoses
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The pump that moves coolant (antifreeze) through the radiator and engine.