Cars speak a language of their own, and every motor enthusiast learns the complicated auto vernacular over time. If you are starting out, you needn’t learn every term. However, understanding the ones below is a step in the right direction.
Superchargers, and turbochargers, are used to produce more power without increasing engine displacement, but neither are particularly fuel-efficient and both can require costly maintenance as vehicles age. A supercharger serves the same function as a turbocharger, but avoids lag time because it runs off an engine-driven pump.
A hydraulic (liquid-pressured) piston assembly that holds disc-brake pads.
The exhaust system device in the tailpipe that reduces engine noise. Some vehicles have more than one muffler along the tailpipe.
If your car starts to turn in one direction whenever you give it some throttle, you’re experiencing torque steer. It’s a more common phenomenon in front-wheel drive cars, and can (but does not always) occur when drive shafts are of unequal length.
The amount of friction between the tire and the ground.
This term defines how much air resistance your car faces while moving. The lower the drag coefficient number, the less air resistance your car has. This has definite implications for fuel economy. Lower numbers are better for both your wallet and the environment.
A transmission gear with a ratio below 1:1, which improves fuel economy by reducing engine revolutions per minute at highway speeds. On a five-speed manual transmission, the fourth and fifth gears are overdrive. On a four-speed automatic transmission, the fourth gear is overdrive. When an overdrive gear set is engaged, the output shaft turns at a higher rate than the input shaft, reducing engine revolutions at cruising or highway speeds.
The hydrocarbon substance in gasoline that reduces engine knock or pinging, which is a noise caused by premature ignition of fuel in the cylinder combustion chamber. The higher the octane number, the less chance of premature ignition. High octane, which has a rating above 91, is useful only when recommended by the manufacturer.
A normal vehicle that has been altered to improve speed and overall appearance or look.
Four on the Floor
Slag for a four-speed manual transmission.
A British term for ‘convertible’, most commonly used by Rolls-Royce.
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