Glossary of Automotive Terms

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

R-12
The chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant, commonly referred to as Freon (a DuPont trademark) or CFC-12, now considered environmentally hazardous but once the key ingredient in automotive air-conditioning systems. A refrigerant is a chemical compound that absorbs, carries and releases heat in an air-conditioning system.
R-134a
The environmentally safe refrigerant now used in air-conditioning systems. It requires a slightly bulkier condenser unit than R-12. Vehicles equipped with R-12 systems can be converted to use R-134a. Since Freon is now banned, expensive and hard to obtain, the conversion may be a good idea when an R-12-based system needs recharging, particularly if technicians detect a leak.
RACMSA
The RAC Motor Sports Association is recognized by the FIA as the governing body of motor sport in Great Britain.
Rack and Pinion Steering
The steering wheel is connected to a pinion gear that meshes with a toothed bar, also called a rack or linear gear. As the pinion turns, the rack moves side to side, moving the steering linkage and causing the front wheels to turn left or right. The ends of the rack are linked to the steering wheel with tie rods.
Radiator
The copper or aluminum device in front of the engine through which hot engine coolant is circulated and cooled. The liquid is then recirculated back through the engine block to cool it.
Rag Top
A convertible with a soft top.
Rally
Competing teams, consisting of a driver and a navigator, are given route instructions, which they must follow exactly. Each team follows the course independently, trying to rack up points based on how well they meet a pre-determined schedule.
Rate
The per unit cost of insurance.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)
The drivetrain in which power is applied through the rear wheels only.
Rebate
An illegal action wherein the agent gives the insured a portion of his or her commission to entice the purchase of insurance.
Rebate
A partial reimbursement from the manufacturer, to either the dealer or buyer, for purchasing a vehicle.
Recall
A manufacturer calls in vehicles to repair defects, usually safety-related. Recalls may be voluntary, requested by the government, or mandated by NHTSA.
Recirculating Ball
A steering mechanism in which the steering shaft turns a worm gear causing a toothed metal block to move back and forth, turning the front wheels. Ball bearings reduce friction between the worm gear and the metal block.
Reconditioning Reserve
Another name for the security deposit when leasing a vehicle.
Red-lining
Unfairly discriminating against a risk because of its location.
Redline
The point on the engine tachometer that indicates the maximum rpm the engine can safely withstand.
Refundable Security Deposit
Money to be held until lease-end as a security method for all lease obligations.
Reimbursement
Payment of the amount according to the loss or damage of property.
Release Fork
Disengages the clutch disc from the flywheel by pressing on the pressure plate release springs.
Renewal
The continuation of coverage that is about to expire.
Rent Charges
The amount charged in addition to the depreciation and any amortized costs.
Residual Value
The estimated value of the vehicle at the end of the lease. Often expressed as a percentage in decimal form. It is based on a vehicle's MSRP. For example, the residual value of a vehicle may be 0.65, or 65% of its MSRP at the end of the lease term. In this example, a car with an MSRP of $20,000 is estimated to be worth $13,000 at the end of the lease term. Residual value may be a negotiable figure. This should be clearly stated in the lease. It is one of the elements used in determining the monthly lease payment and also in deciding whether to buy the vehicle at term end. Also called the walk-
Retention
The amount of liability that is assumed but not reinsured by the agency.
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
Describes at which speed the engine crankshaft is turning.
Rims
The outer edge of a bare wheel.
Risk
Any chance of loss or damage.
Rocker Panel
The body panel that runs beneath a vehicle's doors.
Rollcage
A protective steel cage to prevent driver injury during a rollover.
Rollover
The type of vehicle impact in which the car or truck rolls over on its side, onto its roof, or turns over completely. The biggest cause of injury in a rollover is ejection of the occupant or any part of the occupant. Rollover is a greater risk in any sport-utility vehicle -- because of its high center of gravity -- than in a minivan, pickup truck or passenger car. Rollover can occur immediately upon impact or in the seconds after an impact, which makes it more difficult to protect occupants with traditional airbags. Inflatable tubular restraints and similar designs that stay inflated longer th
Rule of 78
Under a Rule of 78 loan, the interest over the entire life of the loan is divided into 78 equal pieces. The first monthly payment consists of 12 of these pieces, the next of 11 pieces and the rest principal, the third of 10 interest pieces and the rest principal, and so on to the 12th payment, which includes only 1/78 of the interest. Under this type of loan, all the interest due is paid during the first year, and all future payments go toward reducing the principal. A Rule of 78 loan insures that the financier will earn its profit immediately but leaves the borrower with less equity in the ea
Running Yellow
This indicates that something may be wrong on the track, but the cars are allowed to stay, running at a reduced speed. A quick check by the officials usually resolves the issue and the green light comes back on.

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content