Frequently Used Car Terms

Buying a car can be very confusing, not least because sellers use so many different terms. Research has shown that many people don’t understand these terms. So here is a list that will outline the most common ones when selling cars, along with what they actually mean for you, behind the wheel. This list will keep being updated to reflect the common terms, so keep coming back and visiting for more details.

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Enough car terms here to keep all occupied. Camber and toe-angle can wait.
Enough car terms here to keep all occupied so Camber and Toe-angle can wait.

Part Exchange: If you have a part exchange, it means you already have a vehicle to pass to the seller. This will reduce the price of the vehicle you are trying to buy. A very popular way of getting money off a replacement vehicle.

Mint Condition: This is the seller trying to tell you that the car is in good condition. Personally, I get really put off by this phrase. This is partly because I often find it to be false, but mostly because it just sounds casual. As the saying goes, if you have to tell someone that you’re powerful, you probably aren’t.

Service History / Log Book: This is the list of papers that can show if the car has been well taken care of. This can offer reassurance that the car is not about to fall apart. If the car has been recently serviced and checked over, this can also offer peace of mind.

Tax Band: This is the level of road tax that you must pay if you want to use the car on the road. Worth checking this before purchasing a car. Before 2001, the amount of tax paid on a vehicle was based purely on engine size. Since then, it has been based on C02 emissions.

ABS: This stands for Anti-Lock-Brakes. It is a systems that prevents the wheels from locking in a fixed position during braking. This ensures that one can brake hard and still steer to avoid any hazards that may be in the way.

Traction Control: This is a system that stops your wheels from spinning too much under power. This helps prevent drivers from losing control of cars under tricky driving conditions.

ESP: This stands for Electronic Stability Programme. This is the stage up from traction control. It uses wheel sensors, accelerator position and steering wheel angle to work out where the driver wants to go. If the car follows a different path, the system brakes individual wheels, reduce engine power or both to get the car back under control. The main aim here is to prevent the car spinning out of control.

Cruise Control: A system that holds the car at a set speed without the driver pressing pedals. Perfect for lazy people like me.

Double Clutch Gearbox: A posh sort of automatic gearbox which can shift between gears very quickly. The best automatics can shift gears almost as quickly (as far as most people are concerned). Also more expenisive if it goes wrong, so bear in mind when buying used.

HUD: This stands for Head Up Display. This a display which projects information closer to the driver’s natural eye-line. It means the driver can keep looking straight at the road ahead without having to glance down to see speed, or engine revs. Useful feature which could genuinely save lives.

Brake Assist: Research has shown that some drivers do not use full braking force in an emergency stop. This system recognises if the driver applies the brakes more sharply than usual. It then automatically applies maximum force to enable the shortest stopping distance. This can therefore reduce the chance of an impact.

Climate Control: This is simply air conditioning where the occupants can input exactly what temperature they would like the car’s interior to be. In some upmarket cars, one can even select different temperatures for different parts (or zones) of the car.

Have any more terms that I should use? Do join the family and let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!