Handing your car over to a mechanic can be nerve wracking, especially when the sum of your car knowledge is next to none. This can make it harder for you to explain what exactly is going wrong with your car and in some circumstances, can give the mechanic allowance to take advantage of you. This particular problem is widespread – according to a survey by Total Energies, 1 in 4 drivers admit to not knowing how to open their car’s bonnet; a symptom of the same lack of automotive knowledge.

Automotive jargon every car owner should know

To make sure that you don’t get caught out by mechanics, and can understand what they’re telling you, here are some helpful car terms and phrases that you need to know.

‘Diagnostic checks’

A diagnostic check is used to identify electrical faults in your car. These are more important on computer controlled modern cars as glitches in the system or problems with components can both be discovered and diagnosed with one of these checks.

‘Blowing exhaust’

A blowing exhaust is essentially an exhaust that has a hole in it. This can either misdirect the exhaust fumes away from the tailpipe or mean they bypass the catalytic converter – a problem that can be very harmful for the environment.



‘Worn tyre tread’

If you’re in the market for a set of cheap tyres, you may first want your existing set checked by a tyre fitter. If they talk about worn tyre tread, they are referring to the rubber circumference that comes into contact with the road. The tyre tread needs to be in good condition and legally, cannot be too worn. If you pop a 20p into the groove and it doesn’t reach the inside ridge on the face of the coin, it’s too worn.

‘Big end’

Used in reference to the pistons in your engine, the big end is the larger side of a connecting rod (also known as a conrod) in a combustion engine. The conrod moves the pistons in a forward and backward motion.

Automotive jargon every car owner should know - women with book

‘Wheels need balancing’

When wheels are balanced, small weights are attached to them so they can all be spinning perfectly in a circle.

‘Dampers’ or ‘shocks’

These terms refer to the parts of the car’s suspension system that absorb vibrations and bumps from the road. They use hydraulic fluid to dampen these vibrations and improve the quality of ride for you and your passengers.

‘EML light’

The engine management light is the engine-shaped light that can appear on the dashboard if issues occur with the car’s electronic engine module. Typically, if your car shows the light, you will experience engine issues.

Feel confident and knowledgeable the next time you take a trip to the mechanic by taking these terms into account and doing some of your own initial research when something in your car just doesn’t seem right. It could not only save you from a scam, but ultimately save you a bit of money. It’s a win-win!