Below are key auto repair terms and descriptions that will help you navigate your way through your auto’s repair from beginning to end at automotive repair shops in the San Francisco Bay Area.
aftermarket auto parts
Aftermarket auto repair parts are not made by the original parts manufacturer. Instead, aftermarket parts are made by another company to fit and function the same as the original car parts, and they’re often less expensive than OEM parts. Some aftermarket automotive parts are redesigned to increase vehicle performance.
Also known as: aftermarket parts, off-brand auto parts, off-make auto parts, functionally-equivalent auto parts, high performance aftermarket parts, performance auto parts
all wheel drive
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, all-wheel drive, allwheel drive
Liquid in the cooling system that disperses heat is known as anti-freeze. Automotive antifreeze prevents car fluids from freezing during winter, cools the engine in summer and protects the car’s cooling system from corrosion and rust.
Also known as: coolant, auto coolant, antifreeze, anti freeze
auto electrical repair
Auto electrical repairs are repairs to vehicle electrical systems. Auto electrical repairs include alternator repair, ignition repair, auto starter repair, and auto electrical wiring repairs and replacement.
Also known as: automobile electrical repair, automotive electrical repair, car electrical repair, auto electrical service
automotive air filter
A paper or synthetic filter that blocks dust, dirt and debris as air enters the engine.
Also known as: auto air filters, car air filter, performance air filter, auto air filter replacements, auto cabin air filter
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, chassis
Auto control arms are the moving suspension parts mounted between the vehicle frame and the car wheels.
Also known as: car wishbone, auto double wishbone, vehicle suspension
The rod that transfers power from the engine to the transmission.
Also known as: crank, crank-shaft
Automotive differential is important for turning and cornering your vehicle. It’s the gear system that allows one wheel to rotate faster than the other.
domestic auto repair shops
Auto repair garages that specialize in repairs on domestic vehicles. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler 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
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 is usually referred to as hesitation.
Also known as: engine hesitation, engine sputtering, auto stumbling, auto hesitation
Mechanical horsepower is the amount of energy produced by a vehicle’s engine, and is generally defined 745.7 watts, or the equivalent to moving 550 foot-pounds per second. Horsepower originally compared the output of steam engines with that of draft horses.
Also known as: HP, mechanical horsepower, car horsepower, imperial horsepower, vehicle horsepower, electrical horsepower, hp
The term used to describe a vehicle that is stationary but running.
Also known as: automotive idling, car idling, idling, vehicle idling, idling vehicle
An auto mechanic is a professional who repairs and maintains vehicles.
Also known as: auto mechanic, automobile mechanic, auto repair technician
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: mobile auto mechanic, mobile car repair, mobile auto repairs
OEM auto parts
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
When an engine runs at reduced speed or requires more throttle to maintain speed.
Also known as: auto power loss, low power output, automobile hesitating
The term referring to the transmission and engine, the parts that deliver power to the vehicle.
The speed at which the engine crankshaft is turning.
Also known as: revolutions per minute, engine RPM, engine revolutions per minute, car rpm, car rpms
rebuilt auto parts
Rebuilt auto parts are used auto parts that have been remanufactured, reconditioned and restored.
Also known as: salvage auto parts, salvage car parts, salvaged parts, used auto parts, replacement parts, used car parts, refurbished auto parts, rebuilt auto parts
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 other vehicles (usually damaged in accidents or suffering from irreparable or major repairs that leave many car parts usable) are called salvage auto parts. Salvage parts often make for inexpensive auto repair parts, but they usually don’t come with warranties because they aren’t new so their reliability can’t be guaranteed. However, salvage auto parts may be a good option 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
Serpentine belts are also called multi-vee or multi-rib belts. They are long, continuous automotive belts that run several vehicle 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
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, auto shimmying, car shimmying
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.
Also known as: suspension system
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.
Also known as: auto timing belt, cam belt, bad timing belt, broken timing belt
The underside of a vehicle that supports and creates the framework.
Also known as: automobile framework, car body, auto frame, vehicle chassis
The pump that moves coolant (antifreeze) through the radiator and engine.
Also known as: auto water pump, truck water pump, car water pump, vehicle water pump
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