How Well Do You Know Car Acronyms and Abbreviations?


By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you a real car expert? If so, you probably test out the knowledge of other people who claim they are as well by throwing out some acronyms and abbreviations quickly. After all, someone who really knows their way around vehicles can quickly identify what you're referring to with ABS, SRS, AWD, and more.

But the automotive industry loves acronyms for all sorts of things, just like a lot of other industries. In fact, quite a few automaker names contain them, along with other "shop talk" vocabulary you might even hear tossed around when buying a car or having it serviced. If you have a true command of these terms, you can navigate any automotive situation far easier than the average person.

Car enthusiasts will use different abbreviated terms to sort out people who aren't part of the inner circle. If it's obvious you don't understand or use them, you're quickly identified as an outsider. So how much of a car nerd are you? Do you have mastery of all sorts of acronyms and abbreviations? Test your knowledge now with this quiz!

What is a car's cat?

Enthusiasts and mechanics often refer to a cat, or they talk about the cat-back system, which is the part of the exhaust that begins just behind the catalytic converter and ends at the exhaust tip(s).


What does MOPAR stand for?

In 1929, Chrysler founded the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation to help with the making and distribution of components for its vehicles. The contraction, MOPAR, wasn't used officially until 1937 for antifreeze, and then became the name of the company's parts division in the 1960s.


If you drive a Subie, what kind of car do you have?

Subarus has been lovingly referred to as Subies by owners and admirers for years. The company has been making cars since it created the first prototype, called the P-1, in 1954.


What is the tac on a car?

The tachometer is included in the gauge cluster for most cars. It shows the speed at which the engine is working at any given moment, usually displaying that number in revolutions per minute or RPM.


What is DOHC?

Dual overhead camshafts means an internal combustion engine has two camshafts in the cylinder head, versus just overhead valves or a single overhead camshaft configuration.


What does the "4x4" badge mean on some vehicles?

You'll notice this is on trucks and SUVs more than anything. The badge literally means four-by-four, or in other words, four-wheel drive, which the driver usually must engage for it to work, but not always.


What does SAE stand for?

Since 1905, SAE has acted as a neutral group for advocating the development not only of better cars, but other forms of transportation. It boasts more than 128,000 engineers as members, who live all over the world.


When you order a part and it's an OEM product, what does that stand for?

Sometimes, people just say OE, which is the same thing as OEM. It's the parts that came on your vehicle when it arrived at the dealership. You or the dealer could install aftermarket equipment to change the looks or other things about the vehicle, but those parts aren't OEM.


If a dealership says a car is a certain price MSRP, what does that stand for?

MSRP is a suggestion, as the name says, because dealerships can sell a car for less than or more than that amount. It does not indicate how much a dealer paid the automaker for the vehicle, despite what some people try to claim.


What did AMC stand for?

AMC was founded in 1954, using a name that played up to the patriotism of American car shoppers. Its death was drawn out, but the company ceased existence in 1987, with Chrysler taking over select brands like Jeep.


With the Ferrari FF, what does the model name stand for?

Not everyone loves the concept of the Ferrari FF, considering it's a grand tourer model that features seating for four people. The cargo area is also quite large, making it a Ferrari you could think of taking on the open road.


What does Nm stand for?

A Newton metre is a unit of torque measurement in the metric system. In the United States, as well as other parts of the world, lb.-ft. or pound-feet is the preferred means of measuring torque.


When buying a car, what does OAC mean for an offer?

Some offers, like zero interest for the first 36 months of a loan, is only offered to people with credit deemed worthy of that offer. Because of federal guidelines, dealerships and automakers must include OAC after these offers.


What does VTEC stand for?

Honda developed VTEC as a way to have the best of both low-speed and high-speed camshafts, delivering better performance. This innovative system debuted in the late 1980s.


With cars, what does WOT mean?

When you really lay on the accelerator for a car, the throttle might open all the way, which is WOT. It's when a car is pushed to its limits for acceleration at a certain point, but isn't always achievable with turns and road conditions.


What is EFI?

A few decades ago, automakers would proudly display EFI badges on cars as a signal to consumers that the vehicle had the latest and greatest technology. This development helped reduce fuel consumption and emissions, among other things.


If the owner's manual in your car refers to the SRS, what is that?

You might not think of it as a restraint system for your car like you do the seat belts, but the airbags technically are referred to as the SRS. An SRS warning light on your dash means your airbags might not work correctly, so you need to have that serviced as soon as possible.


What does it mean if you car has something that's 12v?

Most common is the reference to a car's 12-volt battery, which supplies electricity to the engine for creating the first sparks, getting the combustion process started.


What is EGR?

The EGR system on a car is designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide emissions coming out of the tail pipe, reducing environmental impact.


If a car is a ZEV, what does that mean?

The state of California created a ZEV program as a way to cut down on air pollution problems in its many urban areas. You might see some electric or fuel-cell cars with a ZEV badge as a result.


What does SAAB stand for?

The name translated from Swedish means Swedish airplane corporation, because Saab's parent company was, and still is, an airplane manufacturer. This is where the marketing tagline, "Born from jets," came from.


In the automotive world, what is UAW?

United Automobile Workers has been around since the Great Depression, working to represent the needs of people who assemble vehicles. It's not without controversy, but many think it greatly improves conditions in factories.


What is F1 short for?

Formula One is the top class for single-seater race vehicles, according to the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile, the most authoritative international racing organization.


When someone talks about NOS, what do they mean?

Nitrous oxide is commonly called NOS among some automotive circles, which is actually a brand name for nitrous oxide. The "Fast and Furious" movies helped make the term even more popular.


What is a car's speedo?

The speedometer, as most people know and you can probably guess from the name alone, shows how fast a car is traveling at any moment. Speedo is just a shortened way to say speedometer.


What does RWD mean?

Many sports cars, as well as other performance vehicles like muscle cars and gran tourers, have a rear-wheel-drive layout. It makes for more entertaining and performance-oriented handling through turns, but presents challenges if you push the car too hard.


In Volvos, what are WHIPS?

Volvo takes vehicle safety seriously, so it shouldn't be a surprise the company focuses on preventing whiplash. The system is mostly special headrests and seats that keep you from getting whiplash when the vehicle is hit from behind.


What does ABS stand for?

With this technology, when you slam on the brakes, the system will pulsate the brake pressure automatically. As a result, the wheels don't lock up, so you have greater control in an emergency stop situation.


What does SH-AWD mean?

Acura offers SH-AWD on certain models, which is an all-wheel-drive system the company claims offers superior handling in all conditions, adaptive to driving style.


If someone talks about their 'Vette, what kind of car do they own?

America's sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, was named after a quick and potent warship. People lovingly refer to it as a 'Vette, a nickname you should know.


What does it mean when someone talks about a vehicle's "spec"?

With cars, specification can mean a whole range of things. Often, people use it to talk about how manufacturers set up the cars originally in the factory, but it can also be in reference to new specifications used by tuners, among other things.


What does FCA stand for?

With Chrysler struggling financially, having been bailed out by the federal government, Fiat made a move for it. The result was the creation of FCA in 2009, a company that today is doing quite well financially.


What does BMW stand for?

You probably don't understand the proper German name, but it translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW got its start in the German state of Bavaria, which is why the place is referenced in its name.


What does the Dodge acronym SRT stand for?

Today, the SRT name is applied to the most performance-oriented Dodges in the lineup. For a short time, FCA tried creating a separate brand named SRT, with only the Viper in the lineup, before changing that strategy.


If someone's talking about buying a 'Stang, what are they referring to?

The Ford Mustang has been an automotive icon since it was launched in 1964. People around the world flock to this symbol of American muscle, and many affectionately call the car a 'Stang for short.


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