Jargon Buster

by under on 12 Dec 2009 07:24:34 AM12 Dec 2009


Unless you’re an expert, shopping for a new car involves wading through a lot of confusing car jargon.

Here is a quick guide to some common terms you are likely to encounter when buying a new car, to help you make sense of the market.

ABS - Anti-Lock Braking System

When the ABS senses the vehicles wheels are locking up and skidding, it rapidly starts to apply and release the brakes, allowing for more steering control. It can also greatly reduce braking distance.

Cruise Control

An electronic system that enables the driver to set the speed of the car without having to continue applying the accelerator. Particularly useful for long freeway drives, the cruise control automatically maintains the fixed speed until driver brakes or accelerates.


A twisting force applied to an object. In terms of cars, it refers to the relationship between the speed the engine is spinning at and the speed of the wheels. It is useful to know when calculating the pulling power of an engine, and its ability to accelerate quickly.


This term is defined as work done over time. Cars are given a particular horsepower rating according to how much power they can generate over a certain distance within a specific time frame. Average coupes and sedans have roughly 110-150 horsepower engines.


A system of springs and other parts that sits between the wheels and frame of the vehicle, allowing the wheels to move independently of the chassis and absorbing the shock of road bumps and unevenness. Independent suspension allows each wheel to move independently.


A car’s transmission is the gearbox and other mechanical parts that drive the wheels and allow the vehicle to accelerate through a wide speed range. Manual and automatic transmissions are available for most car models.


This refers to the patterns cut into the rubber on car tyres, providing grip on the road, especially in wet weather. Different manufacturers have their own patented tread patterns.

Turning Circle

The turning circle is the distance a car travels to complete a full circle, with the steering on turned as far as it will go. A vehicle’s turning circle is used as a measure of its maneuverability.

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