How Well Do You Know Your Auto Shop Slang?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

We all love our cars, don't we? What we don't love is when something goes wrong with them and they need to go to the auto shop to be repaired.

Now that's a different world is it not? First of all, have you ever come out of an auto shop and not had a grease or dirty mark on you somewhere, even though you didn't touch a thing! It's virtually impossible!

And mechanics, well they are just a different breed aren't they? One thing is certain, with modern cars, the day of fixing them yourself are over for good. The thing about a mechanic is that they talk in a lingo that often we have no idea what they are talking about? Their auto shop slang is certainly something that they understand well enough and something we have to learn over the years!

So in this quiz, it's a case if you know your ABS from your elbow, your understeer from your torque steer, your knocks from your 4-bangers and your ECM units from your A/C units. You do? Then you should have no problem.

Let's see just how much auto shop slang and lingo you really know. Good luck!

If you car is stolen but found at a 'chop shop' what was going to happen to it?

If your stolen car is found at a chop shop, it was to be broken down into parts and sold that way.


An 'AWD' vehicle has what exactly?

A vehicle with all-wheel drive has drive to all four of its wheels all of the time. It differs from 4-wheel drive in the fact that that option is selected when a vehicle like an SUV comes to a off-road section.


A mechanic asks to fit an 'aftermarket' part to your vehicle. What does that mean?

Aftermarket parts, in most cases, are on par with original parts and sometimes even surpass them. They are normally cheaper as well.


A steering wheel that is showing a bit of 'play' is ...

'Play' is a term that can be applied to many things by mechanics. A steering wheel showing this tendency will move either left or right for a fair distance before it actually turns the car wheels. This will need to be adjusted.


When a vehicle pulls to one side, what needs to be done?

If a vehicle is pulling to either side on a straight piece of road, the wheel alignment is out. Have it fixed, otherwise it will cause tires to wear unevenly.


An engine that is said to have a 'knock' suffers from?

The combustion of leftover fuel/air mixture is also called detonation, and is something that should be sorted out as soon as possible as it reduces engine life considerably.


A car suffering from 'torque steer' will ...

Torque steer happens in front-wheel drive cars. It results in a car veering to the left or right as a driver accelerates hard, forcing them to counter steer.


What does the 'beltline' on your car refer to?

This imaginary line effectively divides the car's top half from the bottom half. Not many people have heard this phrase, but it is used in auto shop circles. It sometimes is called the waistline as well.


Any idea what a '4-banger' is?

Mechanics in your local auto shop like to use the term banger to explain how many cylinders a car engine has. For instance, a 4-cylinder is a 4-banger and an 8-cylinder engine is an 8-banger.


Some cars show something called 'turbo lag'. What is this?

'Turbo lag' sees a turbo only delivering its power a few seconds after the accelerator is pressed. This has become less of a problem in modern engines.


If a car is described as an 'oil burner,' it uses which of these below as its fuel?

In auto shop slang, an 'oil burner' is a diesel-powered car. In fact, diesel engines run on a much more unrefined fuel which is very close to oil, hence the name.


If a vehicle is said to have '4WD,' what does that mean?

A vehicle with four-wheel drive does not provide drive to all the wheels all of the time. This option is normally selected by the driver when needed.


In auto shop slang, what is 'drifting'?

Drifting has become a major form of motorsport and requires exceptional car control skills. Oh, expect to pay a lot for tires if you want to become a drifter.


'Bondo' refers to which auto product?

A 3M product, 'Bondo' is an auto body filler often used to fix up body work on older cars. It's a quick-fix, really.


When you hear the word 'grip' in an auto shop, what part of the car would provide that?

Grip is essential to all boy-racers. And the grip comes mostly from tires. The more grip you have, the faster a car goes through the twisty bits.


When an auto shop owner offers you a 'drophead' for sale, what type of car will he show to you?

Not a term often used in the United States, a 'drop head' is British term for convertible.


The 'A pillars' refer to what part of your car?

The A pillars on a car are the metal struts that hold the car windshield in place.


The term 'lockup' refers to?

A car experiencing 'lock up' is not a good thing. Why? Well if the tires are skidding after the brakes are pressed, there is no way that the car can be brought to a halt quickly. Both your brakes and tires should be checked and replaced if need be.


Your mechanic tells you that he has adjusted how braking is distributed across the front and rear brakes. What is this called?

The brake bias determines how much a car brakes using the front and back brakes. This is an option on sports cars, for example and can be set for more braking from the front brakes, 50/50 braking or alternatively, more braking from the rear.


A car that has had its 'OBD' fail will need what checked?

Onboard diagnostics are generated by an onboard computer and keep mechanics in the know as to what problems a car might be having.


Vehicles said to be 'RWD' have drive to _____

A 'RWD' car only has drive to its rear wheels. This is a favorite option of many drivers, especially those who love muscle cars.


A car that is oversteering will______

Although it's unlikely that your auto shop mechanic will tell you this, if you are a bit of a racer, you might have experienced oversteer


You are told that a 'diagnostic check' will have to be performed on your car. What is likely to happen?

Diagnostic checks usually cost a little bit of money, so make sure the mechanic really has to run one. Sometimes, however, it is the only way to find what the cause of a persistent problem is.


'Brushes' needing to be replaced will see a mechanic working on which part of the car?

The brushes are rubber parts found in the suspension that often wear and need to be replaced. Strange name though, don't you think?


'Spongy' brakes can be dangerous. What is the first thing your mechanic will check to fix this?

Spongy brakes are most likely caused by not enough brake fluid in the system. That is the first thing a mechanic will check.


If your 'ABS' is acting up, what will the auto shop fix for you?

ABS refers to the anti-lock braking system, something that you always need in tip-top condition on your car.


When an auto mechanic asks if you have exceeded 'load capacity' on a vehicle, what does he mean?

Overloading your car regularly can have a severe effect on the suspension. Try to avoid doing it.


Your vehicle does not have enough 'tread'. What will the mechanic change?

Cars must legally have enough tread on their tires so they provide enough grip. Go below this and you will need to purchase new tires.


So the mechanic at your local auto shop says your 'A/C system' needs to be regassed. What is it?

These systems work on gas, which helps to keep things cool, especially in summer. When it runs of of gas, it does not work as effectively.


What system does the 'catalytic converter' form part of?

On modern vehicles, a catalytic converter helps reduced harmful emissions produced by the engine.


When an auto shop mechanic wants to know your vehicle's 'mpg' what information should you give him?

With fuel prices on the rise, many people are interested in cars that have excellent miles per gallon ratings.


When a car understeers, it will ______

Not often a problem on normal passenger cars, if you own a sports car or performance model, you might have experienced this if the car is not set up properly.


A car's 'B pillars' need to be replaced after an accident. Which are these?

'B pillars' are those metal struts on either side of the rear window that hold it in place.


Your mechanic asks to fit an 'OEM' part to your vehicle. What does he mean by this?

An 'OEM' part stands for original equipment manufacturer. This is a spare part made by the manufacturer of your vehicle.


'FWD' vehicles have drive to ________

A car with front-wheel drive has drive to its front wheels, which are also used to steer the car. Many modern cars use this method.


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