Glossary of Automotive Terms

Click on any letter to find automotive-related entries beginning with that letter.

I-Beam Suspension
A suspension beam under the car that supports the body in the shape of a capital I.
IHRA
International Hot Rod Association
IMS
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of the Indy 500. This is now an IRL event.
IMSA
International Motor Sports Association, founded by John Bishop in 1969. Sanctions, organizes, markets and officiates professional auto racing events. Season begins in February at Daytona International Speedway and ends in October on the streets of New Orleans.
IRL
Indy Racing League founded by Tony George in 1995 in response to re-occurring feuds and disputes with CART.
IROC
International Race Of Champions
Idle Speed
The speed of the engine at minimum throttle and the engine in neutral.
In-Line Engine
Cylinders are arranged side by side in a row and in a single bank. Most four-cylinder and some six-cylinder engines are in-line engines. In V-6, V-8 or V-12 engines, the cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled away from the other in a 'V.'
Incentive
A cash refund or attractive lease or loan rate offered by an automotive manufacturer toward the purchase of a new vehicle.
Indemnity
A legal principle specifying that the insured not collect more than the actual cash value of a loss but be restored to approximately the same financial position that existed before the loss.
Independent Suspension
A suspension design that lets each wheel move up and down independently of the others. A vehicle can have two-wheel or four-wheel independent suspension; sportier models have four-wheel independent suspension. See also Multi-Link Suspension, Live Axle.
Indy 500
The big race held in Indianapolis every year on Memorial Day weekend.
Indy Lights
One level below Indy car racing, known for its lighter version of actual Indy Cars. This is a stepping stone to the Indy 500.
Inflatable Tubular Restraint
This tube of woven material is stiffer and stays inflated longer than a traditional airbag cushion. The tube protects the occupant's head and torso in a side impact, in part by keeping them away from the point of intrusion. The uninflated tube is tucked into the edge of the roof headliner. The tube is attached at the base of the A-pillar in front of the occupant, and at the roofline behind the occupant. When it inflates, the tube angles across the window to keep the occupants head from hitting the window glass or metal side pillar. Because of the longer time the tubular restraint stays inflate
Installment Loan
A loan repaid in separate smaller amounts, typically monthly.
Instrument Panel
The instrument panel contains the gauges in front of the driver; the controls for the sound system and climate-control system; the glove box; vents for the windshield defroster; and the front passenger-side airbag. The instrument panel is often delivered to the factory as a complete module with electronic components already installed.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Sister organization to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Funded by insurance companies.
Insurance Verification
Proof that the borrower has auto insurance.
Integrated Child Seats
May also be called integrated child-safety seats or integrated child-restraint seats. Built-in child seats that fold out of the seatback of a rear seat. Sedans with this option usually have one in the center of the rear seat; minivans may have one or two in the middle seating positions. While NHTSA and every other safety organization stress that any child-restraint seat is better than none, built-in child-restraint seats are considered the safest alternative because they are more securely anchored than a seat attached to seat belts.
Intercooler
Device that cools air as it leaves a turbocharger or supercharger before the air is blown into the engine air intake. Cooling makes the air denser and richer in oxygen, which lets the engine produce more power.
Interest
The cost of the money borrowed, usually expressed as a percentage of the whole.
Interest Rate
The periodic charge, expressed as a percentage, for the use of credit.
Interior Payload
The amount of space or material that can be carried inside the vehicle.
Invoice Price
The initial charge to the dealer from the manufacturer, including freight and delivery charges.

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