Glossary of Automotive Terms

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

Lap-and-Shoulder Belt
A safety belt that secures the driver and/or passenger in the seat with a continuous web of material which fits across the lap and crosses the upper body. It keeps the occupant from jerking forward in the event of a crash. Also called three-way belt, three-point belt, or three-point safety harness.
Lapse
The termination of a policy due to failure to pay the premium.
Leaf Spring
Suspension spring made up of several thin, curved, hardened-steel or composite-material plates attached at the ends to the vehicle underbody. The curved shape of the plates allows them to flex and absorb bumps.
Lean or Rich Fuel Mixture
The fuel mixture is lean when it has too much air, and rich when it has too much fuel. These terms can also be used to refer to adjustments the electronic control module makes to the fuel mixture in response to various driving conditions, particularly on engines with variable-valve technology.
Lease
A contract between lessor and lessee for a specified time period and at a specified payment. The title to the car remains in the name of the lessor as owner of the asset. glossary.L.item.6.term:Lease Rate glossary.L.item.6.def:The monthly finance cost of a lease, similar to the interest rate on a conventional loan. Determined by the money factor.
Lease Term
The number of months for which a vehicle is leased.
Lease-End Residual Value
Used to estimate the value of the vehicle at the end of the lease.
Leg Room
With the front seat adjusted all the way back, the distance from the accelerator pedal's heel point to the back of the front seat cushion.
Lemon
(Slang) A vehicle, usually new, that has a large number of defects.
Lessee
The person who leases a vehicle. The party paying for the use of the vehicle (consumer).
Lessor
The person or institution who owns and leases the vehicle to the lessee. The party funding the lease of the vehicle placed in lease service. It can be the dealer, a leasing company, or a financial institution such as a bank or credit union.
Liability
Any legally enforceable obligation.
Liability Coverage
A type of insurance that pays or renders service on behalf of the insured for any loss or damage due to his or her negligence.
Liability Limits
The limit of insurance the company will pay for on a particular policy.
Lien
A legally documented claim against a vehicle by another party to which the vehicle has been offered as security for repayment of a loan or other debt. A lien against the title may make it impossible to sell the vehicle and transfer the title until the lien is cleared.
Lienholder
An individual or company with a financial interest in an insured's vehicle.
Lift Gate
The rear opening on a hatchback.
Liftover
The distance a person must lift an object off the ground to put it in a trunk or cargo bay.
Light-Duty
Adjective that refers to passenger trucks, as opposed to medium-duty or heavy-duty commercial trucks.
Limited-Slip Differential
A device that helps prevent the drive wheels from skidding or losing traction by diverting power from the slipping wheel to the opposite wheel on the same axle.
Line of Credit
An approved loan amount that has not yet been used.
Liter
Engine-displacement measurement, as in 2.0-liter engine.
Live Axle
A solid axle allowing movement of the wheel on one end to affect the opposite wheel. Found on older rear-drive cars and tucks. Also called a rigid axle.
Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)
The ratio of the sales price or appraised value to the loan amount. Obtained by divided price or value into loan amount. A vehicle with a $10,000 price and an $8,000 loan would have a loan-to-value ratio of 80 percent.
Lock or Lock-in
A commitment you obtain from a lender assuring you a particular interest rate for a definite time period. Protects you in case interest rates rise during the approval process, or between the time you apply for the loan and actually receive the money you have borrowed.
Loss
The amount sought through an insurer's claim.

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