header image
Parts
Homepage. This page: Glossary of popular motoring terms and phrases (sort of...)
Motoring Glossary !
Ok you've read all the high brow classic cars magazines, and the many pearls of wisdom that they have imparted, and if you're anything like me, you'll be as baffled now as you were before you'd spent that 5. So what follows is a slightly less-than-serious interpretation of what motoring terms and sayings really mean, so if you want to know your big end from your torque wrench, go no further - in fact, print this page off, you never know when you might need to explain a particularly obscure term next time you pop down the local pub for a swift pint of ale! All contributions of a similar vein welcomed, just drop me a line via the link on the homepage right here!.
Accelerator pedal to increase forward momentum, or in the case of many prewar cars to wind up the volume level of the engine with little or no determinable effect on speed
Air conditioning - term used to describe a fold down roof
Air filter - this useful invention prevents flies and small animals from forming part of the Ottoman 4 stroke combustion process
Alloy wheels - alternative method of keeping the car off the road surface, prone to being removed without prior consent during hours of darkness
Anti Freeze - not when you take Aunty to the betting shop in your trailer on a winters day, but a substance which if added to the engine water gives it a fighting chance of survival in cold weather
Armrest - designed for perching your half eaten sandwich and jam doughnut on at motorway services
Back seat - see Bench seat
Battery - saves your thumb from instant dislocation, see Starting handle
Bench seat - early form of in-car entertainment (depending on your passenger of course)
Big end - commonly thought to mean the end of the world, this is in fact an expensive and potentially noisy part of the combustion engine
Brake pedal - method of signalling to your car that you'd like to arrest progress in the very near future
Brake light - signals your intention to lessen the pace to those around you, no ETA for retardation given however
Bumpers - accurately measure the amount of room you would have needed to the front and rear of your car when parking
Bus - a large, usually empty, expanse of air clad in a simple aluminium cover with its own dedicated motorway lane
Car polish - a substance which if vigorously applied to the coachwork will improve its longevity. Usually used once after the car is purchased, then never sees daylight again
Caravan - attractive addition to the rear of your vehicle, bringing joy and toots of delight from passing motorists who clamour to follow religiously in your wake, as you negotiate country lanes
Carburettor - regulates how much fuel to leak onto your driveway
Carpet - instant repair, often glued down, designed to cover up a corroded floorpan
Classic car - any car that has survived its 10 year birthday and has a group of masochistic followers who cannot see themselves in any other form of transportation
Cruise control - allows you to concentrate on something other than the speed at which you are travelling, or rest your foot for a while
Clutch pedal - somewhere to rest your foot when driving along, can quieten gear changing also
mechanic under the bonnet of a classic car
Column gearchange - permits you to change gear when you really meant to turn right
Country garage - a quaint charming establishment that has one petrol pump and is never open
Cruise - originally this collective term described an informal group of old cars nuts cruising around in their chrome laden sleds, the term now having been hijacked by baseball cap-wearing oiks in their carbon fibre (lookalike)-clad Saxo VTRs doing burnouts in B&Qs car park
Crumple zone - when you have to squeeze a holidays-worth of clothing into the back of a Lotus Elise
Cyclists - see Motorcyclists (slightly slower)
Diesel engine - specifically designed to stop you falling asleep at the wheel
Dipstick - used only irregularly, for investigative purposes to confirm why your engine has seized
Distributor cap - passes a high tension electrical pulse to your arm on demand
Dogleg 'box - a confusing arrangement whereby ones ratios are not where you'd normally find them
Domestic cooker - designed principally to bake paint onto a freshly painted suspension component, also has some negligible cooking uses (apparently)
Door pockets - a reservoir installed to allow young children to bring up their food without unduly distracted the driver
Driving License - a written confirmation that at one time you were a reasonable driver
Driving gloves - designed to minimise surface contact with the steering wheel, to cut down on skin wear & tear
Exhaust pipe - directs spent gases from the engine into your boot area
First aid kit - the thing you wish you'd remembered to put in the garage immediately prior to picking up that hammer
Fuel injection - a more accurate way of distributing fuel at higher pressure around your engine bay
Gearbox - an intricate maze of cogs and selector fork, around which great suspicion lurks at the first hint of a metal-on-metal experience
Grab handle - allows unwell passengers to hasten their exit from your vehicle
Grease nipples - items that allow grease to be forced into moving joints on older cars, unlike the other kind, usually to be found in disreputable magazines
Hands free phone - frees up your hands whilst driving, to permit you to concentrate on opening that can of Budweiser
Handbook - book of instructions which shall remain firmly in the glove compartment until the cars disposal
Handbrake - the thing that you wish you'd remembered to apply before parking uphill of that new Bentley
Hard shoulder - a portion of the motorway where drivers of Austin Metros congregate on a daily basis and swap notes, suspension spheres etc etc :)
Heated rear window - somewhere to warm your hands on a cold day when giving someone a push start
HGV - a heavy goods vehicle, a machine with whom it is unwise to tangle or its driver displease
Hide food - not as some think, a treatment for leather seats, but in fact the act of hiding boiled sweets from sticky fingered children during a long journey
Horn - allows driver to alert occupants at the dwelling outside which they have parked of their arrival (use restricted to hours of darkness only)
Hire car - Incorporates engine designed to run at maximum revs at all times
Hubcaps - randomly detach themselves to visibly warn cars behind of a sharp bend approaching
In car navigation - at one time this would be a passenger with a map, nowadays more often applies to small TV screens which allow you to focus on them as opposed to the busy road outside
Indicators - a visible device to advise those around you of the turning you made 10 minutes ago
Jump start - the process whereby one neglected vehicle is given the kiss of life by another running vehicle, or the involuntary movement made by an owner when a classic dragged out of a canal fires up for the first time in 35 years
Kingpin - ask any Morris Minor driver!
Layby - area to the side of highway specifically designated for sleepy truck drivers, and burger vans (meat of indeterminate origin)
MOT - the annual opportunity for your precious car to be laughed at & derided by a collection of oily fingered garage mechanics
Motorhome - essentially a van with all the benefits of caravan accomodation bolted on behind the cab to form a slightly unwieldy creation
Motorway Services - home to the lesser spotted synthetic sandwich, 5 Cola drink and RAC man trying to sell you breakdown cover
Motorcyclists - a collective term for entities that move very quickly in a totally random and unpredictable manner
MPVs - a term used to describe abnormally large machines bought by people with lots of children, in areas where television and other entertainment was rarely available
Oil - forms a protective covering on your driveway, impervious to all known cleaning solutions
Oversteer - describing the actions taken by someone who is very bad at parking
Petrol - permanent cologne for your hands, not recommended for long term skin care however
Petrol station - a permanent roadside fixture from where fuel and any number of useless domestic items can be bought. Motor spares are however rarely to be found on the premises
Petrol tank - the Governments mobile tax collection point
Piston slap - action performed when you snap a piston ring when trying to replace it
Radiator - collects samples of passing flies for future inspection
Radiator grille - designed to take chunks out of passing fingers during the weekly car wash
Radio - provides aural entertainment whilst awaiting the arrival of a breakdown recovery truck, inaudible at all other times
Rear view mirror - allows you to admire the retrim you did of the back seat, whilst on the move
Repmobile - a car used by travelling sales people, all of which sport an ever increasing number of letters to their model name to mark out the success or otherwise that this person is having
Reverse light - a visual warning to all passing cats & rodents of your intended route of passage
Roadmap - explicitly defines the route you'd planned to take
Roofrack - ideal way to dispose of your garden cuttings whilst on the pretence of driving it to the nearest municipal tip
Rust - encouraged & freely donated to all motorists by the local councils road salting department
Sandblasting - a process for efficiently distributing large quantities of expensive grit around the neighbourhood
Satellite navigation - the act of opening your sunroof on a clear night and using the stars to guide you
Seat - isolates your posterior from exterior undulations
Seatbelt - restraining device, ideally must be applied in advance of any impending collision
Speedometer - a rough approximation of how fast you would be travelling had you remembered to drop the car down off the axle stands
Starting handle - DIY thumb breaking tool, designed to dislocate the thumb at both joints in a single deft swing of the handle
Steering wheel - suggests direction changes to the front wheels via a series of cogs, cables, pieces of string and divine intervention
Sump - collection point for destroyed engine components following a blow up
Sunroof - admits sun when its sunny, and drips of water when its not
Sunvisor - designed to minimise distraction from oncoming traffic lights
Taxi - a vehicle of indeterminate origin and unbelievable mileage, usually beige or black, usually to be spied doing 3 point turns on busy A roads
Tinted glass - lessens the requirement to look like Roy Orbison whilst hauling the wheel
Torque wrench - to be used to lessen risk of being overtaken by errant roadwheels, and other such indignities that result from loose nuts
Towbar - an effective deterrent against other drivers who are too close behind you
Tyre - circular black device that softens the impact of bouncing up a kerb
Unleaded fuel - often referred to as Liquid Gold (the carat depending on which country you're in at the time due to cost variations)
Understeer - describes the actions of someone immediately leading up to their crash
Warranty - 100% watertight guarantee that nothing will be replaced should it fail on your secondhand car purchase
WD40 - a spray to be aimed in the approximate direction of a corroded nut, simultaneously waterproofing the surrounding area
Wheelbrace - tool offering minimal leverage to prise off wheelnuts applied by tyre fitting companies using air powered guns
Wheelnut - one of a number of small fittings designed to keep a particular corner of the car off the tarmac
White Spirit - a marvellous invention, designed solely to speedily remove oily thumbprints from items of furniture or freshly decorated living rooms
Windscreen - near vertical section of glass designed to keep flies out of your teeth
Windscreen washers - add water to the mixture on your screen, forming a fly soup
Windscreen wiper - an apparatus designed to glide over squashed bugs on your 'screen, smearing things and leaving a discernible residue
Workshop manual - detailed instructions on how the mechanically disinclined can dismantle their pride and joy. Reassembly coverage is however sketchy

Custom Search
www.oldclassiccar.co.uk (C) R. Jones. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers