When talking to mechanics, it can sometimes seem challenging. We don’t always understand what they’re saying, so we can get confused. Whether it’s brake repair, replacing parts, or just changing the engine oil, jargon and terminology can throw us for a loop.
To help with better understanding mobile mechanics and their words, here’s a quick guide to some of the more common terms you’ll hear.
ABS is the anti-lock braking system. It’s run by a computer and keeps brakes from locking up and tires from skidding. They used to be more mechanical, but that’s faded in recent years.
The accelerator is the gas pedal. You do not want to step on this too hard unless you’re in a car chase being filmed for an action movie.
The air filter is usually paper or fabric and is meant to keep debris, dust, and dirt out of the engine. A damaged filter is not a good thing.
Alternators produce alternating electrical current. This keeps things like wipers, air conditioning, cooling fans, and radios running.
A catalytic converter is part of the emission system. It changes exhaust emissions into gases, so they’re not coming out of the tailpipe as solid chunks or worse. If it isn’t working correctly, you will fail a standard emissions test.
Despite looking like a radiator, a condenser is not the same thing. It is meant to circulate the refrigerant used for the air conditioning.
Disc brakes are a braking system. They rotate a disc along with the wheels, with mechanisms that push onto the discs to stop the vehicle.
A distributor moves electrical current in a particular firing order. This, in turn, drives the cylinders of the engine.
Four-wheel drive is something that should be obvious, but let’s cover it anyway. A 4WD vehicle is one that powers all four wheels at the same time. This creates greater traction, making it suitable for rough terrain and similar conditions.
The fuel system has an injector, which is a valve that moves fuel into the combustion chamber. The fuel pump, on the other hand, is what forces gasoline from the tank into the engine. Too much or too little and you get performance problems.
Transmissions move the gears in a vehicle. This is important. Terrain and driving conditions are what determine the movement of the gears, and the right transmission can ease any problems you have because of above factors.
A parking brake is what’s used to keep a parked vehicle from moving around. You’ll usually find these on the drive shaft or rear wheels.
A powertrain is also known as a drivetrain. It acts as a collection of parts meant to move the wheels around.
The radiator is part of the cooling system. It works by exchanging heat, reducing the temperature of the coolants and protecting the engine from heat-related stress.
Shocks are part of the suspension system. It provides greater stability, along with the distribution of weight so that no one side of the car is too mired by whatever it’s carrying.
There are other terms, but these tend to be the most common.