Glossary of Automotive Terms - Autotrader
– A –
Vertical roof support between the windshield and front edge of the front side window.
The American Auto Racing Association, located in Spokane, Washington.
American Drag Racing Association, located in Spokane, Washington.
American Hot Rod Association
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Automobile Racing Club of America, the little brother to the Winston Cup racing (ARCA is two levels below). ARCA sports similar cars with shorter races and small pay-outs.
A document that states a person or a legal entity has the right of ownership.
An unforeseen and unintended event or occurrence.
Removes moisture from the liquid refrigerant in an air-conditioning system.
A fee charged by the leasing company to buy the vehicle for the lessee and set up the lease. Also called the initiation fee, this typically runs about $450.
Act of God
Any accident or event that is not by human hand and can not be prevented. Usually a natural cause.
Actual Cash Value (ACV)
Replacement cost of property lost. If your vehicle were stolen, totaled in an accident, or otherwise rendered a loss, the Actual Cash Value is equal to the cost for a similar vehicle at current market prices.
A device that performs a mechanical action in response to an input signal, which may be electrical or fluidic.
A person or company, other than the person named on the account who is protected against damage or loss.
Additional Insured/Loss Payee
Since the lessor owns the leased vehicle, the lessee is required to name the lessor “additional insured” in his insurance liability-coverage policy and as the “loss payee” in his collision and comprehensive policy.
Adjusted Capitalized Cost
The basis for the basic monthly payment.
The person working with the insurance agency who determines the amount of damage, loss, and liability.
Advertised Price, Average
The average listed price for a given year, make and model combination, among the cars currently listed on Autotrader.
Advertised Price, Highest
The highest listed price for a given year, make and model combination, among the cars currently listed on Autotrader.
Advertised Price, Lowest
The lowest listed price for a given year, make and model combination, among the cars currently listed on Autotrader.
The wind resistance of a vehicle’s design elements. Aerodynamic vehicles claim to offer increased performance and reduced wind noise while moving. See Coefficient of Drag.
A representative of the insurance agency, licensed by the state, who solicits, negotiates, and countersigns the contract. Also provides service to the policyholder for the insurance agency.
Brakes, usually on heavy-duty trucks, that use compressed air to operate.
Safety device using an inflatable cushion that inflates and deflates within a fraction of a second to protect a vehicle occupant.
Airbag Lockout Switch
A device allowing the driver to turn off the front passenger airbag.
The proper adjustment of the car’s suspension. Generally refers to the wheel alignment.
A policy covering all losses except those specifically excluded in the contract.
Tires designed to provide good traction in winter snow and slush without wearing too quickly on dry roads.
All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
A small, lightweight vehicle designed for recreational off-highway use.
All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
A vehicle drivetrain with all wheels powered by the engine at all times. Sometimes called full-time four-wheel drive.
Any non-steel road wheel. Mostly aluminum, but technically a mixture of two or more metals.
May be alcohol-based, such as ethanol or methanol; compressed natural gas; or combinations of gasoline and alcohol.
Produces alternating current and recharges the battery.
The gradual reduction of a debt by periodic payments large enough to meet current interest payments and repay the principal.
The portion of the purchase price that is actually financed. In addition to the cost of the car, it can include the costs of an extended warranty, credit life insurance, and other items rolled into the payments.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The average compound interest rate over the life of the loan. A yearly rate of interest that includes fees and costs paid to acquire a loan. Lenders are required by law to disclose the annual percentage rate, which is used to compare various loans; it makes simple interest and compound interest loans comparable with each other.
Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS)
A computer-controlled braking system that senses impending wheel lockup and pulses the brakes many times a second to prevent it. This results in the most important benefit of ABS: by preventing wheel lockup, it allows the driver to maintain steering control. Unfortunately, too few drivers are trained to use ABS properly. When the system engages, it may vibrate the brake pedal. A driver who doesn’t know how to use ABS may lift his foot from the pedal when he receives this feedback, effectively disengaging the system.
A suspension component. A steel rod or tube that connects the left and right suspension members to resist roll or swaying of the vehicle. Improves handling.
A liquid that mixes with the water in a cooling system of a vehicle’s engine. Antifreeze keeps the water from freezing in the winter or cold climates, or from overheating in the summer or hot climates.
An initial statement of personal and financial information which is required to approve your loan.
A survey of the property to assess damage.
The ratio between the width and sidewall (or height) of the tire. Tires with lower aspect ratios, usually found on sports models, provide superior handling but a harsher ride.
Assigned Risk Plan
A risk that must be insured by state law or otherwise.
Several Dealership operations located on one site.
Automatic Locking Retractor
Standard on 1995 and later models, this device is built into the shoulder belt retractor and keeps the belt cinched tightly, which is essential for properly securing a child-safety seat.
Automatic Temperature Control (ATC)
Automatically controls a vehicle’s heating and cooling systems, maintaining a temperature preset by the occupant.
A system that varies the power and torque to a drivetrain without the use of a foot-operated clutch.
A rotating metal shaft connected to the wheels on either side of the vehicle.
– B –
Vertical metal roof support between front and rear side windows on the side of the vehicle.
The amount currently due, minus previous payments, plus cash advances and purchases.
The amount the bank charges the consumer, expressed as a percentage.
The price of a vehicle without options but including standard equipment, factory warranty, and freight or destination charge. This price is printed on the Monroney sticker.
A coat of paint acting as the base for other layers to be applied.
The rate from which discounts or additions are calculated.
(Slang) A car for everyday transportation. Usually not in perfect condition.
A horizontal line, usually imaginary but sometimes indicated by a feature in the body design, just below the window openings on a car or truck body.
Full-length seat that can usually seat two or three people.
A property-liability insurance that covers more than one piece of property.
Bodily Injury Liability
Any liability that may result from the injury or death of another person.
The type of exterior shell or shape to a vehicle (sedan, coupe, truck, etc.).
This child-safety seat is designed for children who are too large for a baby seat, but not big enough to sit safely in the vehicle’s seats.
Diameter of an individual engine cylinder.
Borg Warner Trophy
Victory in the Indianapolis 500 secures this, the most coveted trophy in Indy Car racing.
The cylinders are opposite (180 degrees apart) from each other. Also called flat engines, these are relatively flat compared to In-line or V engines.
Device or system that helps reduce the force the driver must exert against the brake pedal. May be hydraulic or electric.
A hydraulic (liquid-pressured) piston assembly that holds disc-brake pads.
The large circular surface that the brake shoe presses against to stop the vehicle.
Used in a disc system, it is a replaceable piece of backing plate and additional friction lining.
Occurs when the vehicle pulls suddenly to the left or right as the brake pedal is depressed. It indicates the brakes may be out of adjustment.
Shiny metal disk that brake pads squeeze to stop the vehicle; hence the name disc brakes.
A curved, replaceable piece of friction material used on drum brakes. The wheel cylinder pushes the brake shoes against the brake drum.
A person who represents the insured to solicit or negotiate for contracts. A broker may deal with many agents or companies on behalf of his or her client.
Individual driver or passenger seats.
A type of warranty that covers the entire vehicle for a limited amount of time.
Just one level below Winston Cup, some drivers race at both this and Winston Cup level. These races, often run the day before a Winston Cup race, have gained popularity and are now all televised live, nationally.
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The vertical metal roof support between the side edge of the rear windshield (also called the backlight) and the rear edge of the rear window.
The Championship Association of Mechanics, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization that serves the needs of Indy Car crew members. It also acts to publicize their efforts.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of the World 600 Winston Cup Race, now known as the Coca-Cola 600. This is a NASCAR event, also held on Memorial Day.
Inward or outward tilt of the wheels and tires. This adjustment affects how the vehicle holds the road and handles cornering.
A machined shaft with lobes that open and close engine-cylinder intake and exhaust valves. As the shaft rotates, the lobes push against valve springs to open the valves and rotate away to close them. Driven by the crankshaft.
In a lease transaction, the price at which a financial institution buys a vehicle from a dealer. Equivalent to the cash purchase price if the consumer were buying the vehicle outright, it includes taxes and any other additional charges. Also called Capital Cost.
Capitalized Cost Reduction
In a lease transaction, an up-front payment made at the start of the lease. The lessee can use cash, a rebate or a trade-in. Similar but not equal to a down payment. The lessee must pay sales tax on the cap-cost reduction amount. Also called Capital-Cost Reduction.
Captive Finance Company
:A financial institution owned by a manufacturer. Examples include Chrysler Credit, Ford Motor Credit and GMAC.
Device that mixes air with fuel, delivering the mixture into the engine’s combustion chambers. Only found on older vehicles. By the mid-1980s, new emissions standards led to the use of fuel-injection systems, which do not require frequent adjustment.
The insurance company that provides the insurance.
Insurance covering the insured’s legal liability for damage to other person’s property or injuries to them. Other forms of insurance, such as burglary, robbery and worker’s compensation, belong in this category.
An emissions-control device that removes unburned fuel from the exhaust by burning it.
The risk of loss by a peril to which a large number of insured are subject. Typical examples are hurricanes and tornadoes.
Center High-Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL)
NHTSA-required brake light mounted higher than the taillights, at the top center or bottom center of the rear windshield.
Center of Gravity
The point of the car where, if it is suspended, it would balance front and rear.
On all-wheel drive vehicles, a third differential in addition to those for the front and rear axles. This third differential allows the front and rear wheels to turn at different speeds as needed for cornering on dry pavement. On slippery surfaces, it locks all four wheels together, either automatically or manually depending on the system, for greater traction.
Central Locking System
On a vehicle with power door locks, the system locks or unlocks all doors at one time.
Chemicals formerly used as refrigerants in cooling systems. No longer used because they are considered harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer.
The pole of lights that starts a drag race, named for its red and green lights. Most drag races use the pro or heads up start which has three lights in between the first (red) and last (green) stage.
Request for payment of a loss as covered under the terms of an insurance contract.
The term used to identify a certain section of the contract or policy.
The transparent top coat of paint on many newer vehicles; designed to create a long-lasting, lustrous appearance.
The non-technical term for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC). Most current vehicles have all three — heating, defrost and AC.
In a lease contract, specifies the vehicle’s residual value at the end of the lease term. The lessee is not responsible for the value of the vehicle at term end, but he may face charges for excess wear-and-tear and excessive mileage. Also called a walk-away lease.
Any expenses added onto the lease that are incidental to the purchase. (For example, title fees and appraisal fees.)
Device that connects or disconnects the engine from the transmission.
Presses against the the transmission flywheel to transfer power from the engine to the transmission.
Coefficient of Drag (Cd)
A measure of the aerodynamic resistance of the vehicle body. The smaller the number, the more wind-cheating the body design and the greater likelihood that passengers won’t have to endure wind noises.
A suspension component made up of spiral-wound hardened steel, used to isolate a vehicle from the up-and-down movement of the wheels on the road.
Assets owned by the borrower which document his or her ability to repay the loan. Listed assets may be seized by the lending institution if the loan is unpaid.
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by collision with another car or object.
The cooperation between two or more people to secretly defraud another person or company.
Top section of the engine cylinder, where the air-fuel mixture is ignited by a spark plug. The explosion of the combustion pushes the piston down into the cylinder, producing the force that the transmission delivers to the drive wheels.
Common Law Liability
The responsibility of injury or loss imposed upon a person because of his or her actions.
A small car that can seat two to four people.
Interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest.
Optional insurance that pays for damage to your car caused by things other than collision. For example, if your car is stolen or vandalized.
The ratio of the volume within an engine cylinder when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke, compared to the volume in the cylinder when the piston is at the top of its stroke. The higher the ratio, the more compression during combustion and the more powerful the engine.
Any type of insurance that is required by law.
The withholding of facts by an applicant on an insurance application.
This may refer to the unit found between the front driver and passenger seat that contains the automatic transmission shifter, cupholders and a storage compartment. But it can also refer to the section of the instrument panel that includes the controls for the sound system and climate-control system, particularly if the panel flows down the center of the vehicle and includes the automatic-transmission shifter.
Constant-Velocity Joint (CV Joint)
On front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, a coupling that allows the front axle to turn at a constant speed at various angles when the vehicle turns. The CV joint is a shaft that transmits engine power from the transmission to the wheel.
Contribution by Equal Shares
Provision in insurance contracts which requires each company to share equally in the loss until the share of each equals the lowest limit of liability under any policy or the full amount of loss is paid.
The wrongful use of a property by the person who owns it.
Any car with a removable top, either a rag (cloth) top or hard top.
Liquid used to carry heat away from the engine. Sometimes called antifreeze.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
The government tracks the average fuel economy of all the vehicles produced in a single model-year by each individual manufacturer. CAFE is that rating.
Generally, a two-door car with close-coupled passenger compartment.
Coupe de Ville
A coupe with an enclosed, rear passenger section and an open driver’s section.
Craftsman Truck Series
These NASCAR Trucks are similar to a Winston Cup race car, under the skin. The body must be stock and its shape is monitored by NASCAR officials. This new series of races has been called one of the most exciting in motorsports.
The shaft that converts the up-and-down motion of the pistons into rotation. It is connected to the transmission.
A consumer who will qualify for a vehicle loan. Same as a qualified buyer.
A device that, when set by the driver, will hold the car at the chosen speed.
Portions of a vehicle’s structure designed to buckle and fold in an impact, absorbing crash force rather than transmitting it to vehicle occupants.
The weight of the vehicle without passengers, driver or cargo, but with all standard features, a full tank of fuel, and all the fluids necessary for proper function.
The main part of the engine to which other parts are attached.
At the top of the engine block is the cylinder head which contains intake and exhaust valves. Air and fuel enter the cylinder head through the intake valves and spent leftovers are released after combustion through the exhaust valves.
– D –
A device that reduces vibration.
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
These lights come on whenever the vehicle is turned on; they make the vehicle more visible to other drivers. Mandatory in Canada and standard equipment on many vehicles sold in the United States.
Any extra charges for additional services or products sold by the dealer such as rust-proofing or extended warranties.
Also known as “pack.” Manufacturer refund to a dealer after a vehicle is sold. Usually a percentage (2 to 3%) of the MSRP.
A limited time discount offered by the manufacturer to a dealership.
A cash refund or attractive lease or loan rate offered by an automotive manufacturer toward the sale/purchase of a new vehicle.
Dealer Invoice Price
Also called dealer cost. The amount the dealer pays for a car or truck. Deducted from this price may be a dealer incentive, which is a set discount offered for a limited period of time, or a dealer holdback, which is a percentage of the vehicle’s wholesale price.
Dealer Preparation Fee
Extra charges for getting the car ready.
Dealer Sticker Price
The base price, or the price on the Monroney sticker, plus the suggested retail price of dealer-installed options, dealer preparation, and add-ons such as undercoating.
The amount of money or percentage of expenses that will be covered by the insured.
Fees charged the lessee as a result of missing payments or otherwise defaulting on the lease. Typical charges include all remaining payments and any additional costs incurred in reclaiming the vehicle. The security deposit may also be lost.
A sum of money to hold a deal until the paperwork is complete. If the deal is closed, the deposit is applied to the down payment.
The decrease in a vehicle’s market value over time. The amount of yearly depreciation is affected by vehicle condition; resale-marketplace supply and demand; and make and model reputation. Convertibles, high-performance cars, trucks and vans tend to depreciate less than other vehicles.
Destination & Delivery Charges
The cost of transporting the vehicle from the assembly plant to the dealership. Usually a flat fee passed on to the buyer without any markup.
An internal combustion engine in which the air-fuel mixture is ignited by compression in the cylinder rather than by a spark. Diesel engines use diesel fuel rather than gasoline and tend to be more fuel-efficient and require less maintenance than gasoline engines, but it is more complicated to get them to run cleanly. Also used as a slang term: after turning off the ignition, the engine continues to run for a short period.
The fuel used by a diesel engine. Usually found in tractor trailers and other trucks.
A mechanical gearbox or fluid coupling that allows wheels to rotate at different speeds. Usually located on an axle, it allows the outside wheels to turn faster than the inside wheels during cornering. Four-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive vehicles have two differentials, one for the rear axle and one for the front. all-wheel drive vehicles also may have a third or center differential on the drive shaft that runs between the front and rear axles.
A small dent or scrape in the body of the vehicle.
Arranging the loan directly through a bank or credit union rather than through the dealer.
Damage or loss directly due to a particular event or peril.
Shiny metal discs, called brake rotors, are attached to the wheel hub, rotating with the wheel. When the brake pedal is depressed, the brake calipers squeeze the discs to slow the vehicle. See Brake Caliper and Brake Rotor.
The volume displaced by an engine’s cylinders. Formerly measured in cubic inches, it is now more commonly expressed in liters.
Also called Disposition Fees. Charge for costs associated with picking up and processing the returned car at the end of the lease. This runs from $200 to $400. Sometimes rolled into monthly payments. Often absorbed by dealers when another vehicle is leased.
Part of the ignition (electrical) system. Delivers electricity from the ignition coil to the distributor cap and the spark plug wires in the correct firing order. (The firing order is that sequence in which each cylinder begins its power stroke.) The spark plugs ignite the fuel and air mixture in each cylinder thousands of times a minute, producing the explosion that pushes the piston down in the cylinder to power the vehicle.
Double Wishbone Suspension
A type of independent suspension in which the upper and lower support pieces, or members, look somewhat like a wishbone.
The up-front cash payment that the buyer makes to reduce the amount borrowed to purchase a car; the difference between the loan amount and the purchase price. A trade-in allowance and/or rebate also may be used as down payment. The down payment helps protect the bank, credit union or finance company in case the borrower defaults on the loan. A typical down payment is about 20 percent of the vehicle’s sale price.
A phenomena where two cars running nose to tail together can move faster than an individual vehicle.
Connects the transaxle to the front wheels on a front-wheel drive vehicle.
Drive Range (EV)
The distance an electric vehicle can drive without re-charging its batteries.
A rotating metal shaft that transfers power from the transmission differential gear assembly to the rear wheels on a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
The wheels, front, rear, or both, to which the engine transmits its power.
Vehicle components which act together to move the vehicle forward or backward. On a rear-drive vehicle, it is the combination of the engine, transmission, differential and drive shaft. On a front-drive vehicle, it consists of the engine, transaxle and drive axles.
A braking system that uses a metal drum. Brake shoes press against the drum to slow or stop the car.
Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC)
Engine with two camshafts on top of the cylinder head, one to open and close intake valves, the other to open and close exhaust valves. See also Overhead Cam and Overhead Valve.
– E –
Ending the lease before the contracted time. May be involuntary, due to theft or accident.
Early Termination Charge
Additional fee charged when a lease is ended before the agreed-upon term. Often represents a substantial penalty.
The portion of the premium which is already paid from an expired policy term.
Electric Vehicles (EV)
Vehicles powered by electricity, generally using a rechargeable battery.
Electronic Control Module (ECM)
The computer that controls the engine’s fuel and emissions systems. Among the devices it controls is the idle air control, or IAC, which regulates the idle speed in fuel-injected engines. Also called the Electronic Control Unit (ECU).
Electronic Fuel Injection System
Injects fuel into the engine’s cylinders with electronic control to time and meter the fuel flow.
Electronic Valve Timing (EVT)
System in which a computer controls the timing of the opening and closing of cylinder valves.
End of Lease Payment
In an open-end lease, the amount the lessee pays at the end of the lease; the difference between the vehicle’s residual value, which was used to calculate lease payments, and the actual market value.
The total of the volume used for combustion inside the cylinders of an engine. Measured in liters on newer models, or in cubic inches on older models.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The federal agency that regulates air quality and sets automotive fuel-economy and emissions standards.
The value left in a used vehicle after subtracting the outstanding loan balance from its market value. For example, if $4,000 is still owed on a car worth $8,000 on the open market, then it has an equity of $4,000.
A process in which a neutral third party takes care of the transfer of ownership of the vehicle.
Evaporated fuel from the carburetor or fuel system which mixes with the surrounding outside air.
Part of the climate-control system that contains a liquid refrigerant which turns to gas to absorb heat from the air.
Any mileage over the amount agreed upon within the lease. Generally incurs a per-mileage charge at the end of the lease. Experts recommend a yearly mileage limit, or Mileage Cap, that exceeds normal driving needs.
Excess Mileage Charge
Additional charge at the end of the lease for every mile on the odometer over the limit stated in the lease. A typical charge is 15 cents per mile, but the fees can be from 10 cents to 25 cents a mile. It costs less to figure your expected mileage use (or mileage allowance) realistically and prepay than to pay for excess mileage at lease end.
Excess Wear and Tear
Visible damage to a vehicle that is above and beyond what is considered normal wear and tear. Usually specified in the lease contract. Will incur additional cost at lease-end. If possible, negotiate as specifically as you can in the lease what the lessor will consider excess wear and tear.
Any cause, condition, or property which are not covered by the policy.
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
Part of the emissions system, it recirculates exhaust gases into the intake manifold, cooling the combustion chamber.
The passages that route the exhaust gases towards the muffler and exhaust system.
A policy that covers any extras that are not in the original policy.
– F –
Federation Internationale De L’Automobile
The standard and options that make up the equipment of a used vehicle.
Transmits power from a crankshaft-driven pulley to an engine fan and other accessories.
Provides a flexible connection between the tractor and the trailer.
Final Drive Ratio
The reduction ratio of the transmission gear set furthest from the engine. In other words, the ratio of the number of rotations of the drive shaft for one rotation of a wheel. In general, a low final drive ratio results in better fuel efficiency, and higher final drive ratio results in better performance.
The metal panel that separates the engine compartment from the passenger compartment. It also often includes sound and heat insulation.
First Party Coverage
The compensation for loss or damage from your insurance company rather than the person involved in the accident.
A cancellation of a policy free of any charge or fee.
A rate that is not subject to any additions or adjustments.
The most popular of all the forms of auto racing, Formula 1 tends to be dominated by European drivers. The parallels to Indy Car racing have lead to the defections of drivers like Nigel Mansell, who seek the greater spoils of victory here in the US.
An unforeseen accident.
Four on the Floor
(Slang) A four-speed manual transmission.
Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)
A transfer case distributes power to both axles in order to drive all four wheels.
Vehicle on which all four wheels turn when the driver turns the steering wheel. The rear wheels turn at a smaller angle than the front wheels. This system appeared on a few sports models in the 1980s but was never very popular in North America.
Engine power is transmitted to the front wheels, which are the drive wheels. Also front-drive.
The number of miles a vehicle gets per gallon.
Taking the place of carburetors in the 1980s, the fuel injector is an electrically controlled valve that delivers a precise amount of pressurized fuel into each combustion chamber.
A mechanical or electrical pump that pressurizes the fuel system to move gas from the fuel tank to the engine.
A car that is usually four doors and seats anywhere from two to seven people.
This variation of a dragster hides the usual front engine chassis under a lightweight body that looks like a street car.
An electrical device that breaks the current in a circuit that is overloaded or shorted; it prevents damage to other components. However, the fuse itself may fail, and the most common repair when a fuse blows is to simply replace it without working on any other electrical component.
– G –
Stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection insurance. Extra insurance for lease customers to cover the difference in the actual value of the vehicle and whatever is owed on the lease. Important if the car is stolen or totaled early in the lease term. It also covers the difference in value between what may be paid by an insurance carrier and what is still owed to the leasing company, including future lease payments.
Also called gas-filled shocks. They are shock absorbers filled with a low-pressure gas to smooth the vehicle’s ride during up-and-down movement.
Any thin, soft material installed between two metal surfaces to create a good seal.
This is the garage area at Indy, where major mechanical work is done on the cars.
General Property Taxes
Any tax on real estate or personal property.
A code of conduct between parties emphasizing honesty during the transaction.
Grand National Circuit
This was the previous name for Winston Cup Racing before R.J. Reynolds became the sponsor in 1972.
A type of car race popular in Europe. Also, a French term meaning great prize.
Gray Market Vehicle
Any car that is imported, but not through authorized retailers. May have insufficent emissions standards.
Used in automotive circles to describe all of the windows enclosing the passenger compartment.
An opening in the front of the vehicle that allows air to reach the radiator.
Gross Capitalized Cost
See Capitalized Cost
The income of the borrower before taxes or expenses are deducted; used to qualify for a loan or a lease.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The curb weight of the vehicle plus the maximum load it is designed to carry.
– H –
The ease of vehicle steering and maneuverability around turns, up hills, etc.
A passenger car with a full-height rear door that includes a rear window. Usually has a rear folding seat.
A situation that may increase the probability of a loss or damage.
The distance from the top of an occupant’s head to the headliner.
The interior covering of the roof. Headliners often contain consoles with slots for garage-door openers and other devices, as well as dome lights and wiring for electrical and electronic components attached to the headliner. The covering usually includes a sound-absorbing material.
Highway Loss Data Institute
Sister organization to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Funded by insurance companies.
The allotted room between a passenger’s hips and any other part of the vehicle.
Hold Harmless Agreement
An agreement where one party assumes responsibility.
Manufacturer refund to a dealer after a vehicle is sold. Usually a percentage of the MSRP.
Home Equity Loan
A loan secured by the equity in your home. Interest paid is usually tax-deductible. Increasingly, consumers are using home-equity loans instead of consumer loans to purchase items, such as cars, for which conventional-loan interest is not tax-deductible.
Horsepower (hp, bhp)
Abbreviated as hp, as in 200-hp engine, or bhp (brake horsepower or net horsepower) to designate power produced by an engine. In general, the higher the horsepower, the higher the vehicle’s top speed. One horsepower is the power needed to lift a 550-pound weight one foot in one second.
A normal vehicle that has been altered to improve speed and overall appearance or look.
– I –
A suspension beam under the car that supports the body in the shape of a capital I.
International Hot Rod Association
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of the Indy 500. This is now an IRL event.
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.
Indy Racing League founded by Tony George in 1995 in response to re-occurring feuds and disputes with CART.
International Race Of Champions
The speed of the engine at minimum throttle and the engine in neutral.
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.’
A cash refund or attractive lease or loan rate offered by an automotive manufacturer toward the purchase of a new vehicle.
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.
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.
The big race held in Indianapolis every year on Memorial Day weekend.
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
A loan repaid in separate smaller amounts, typically monthly.
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.
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.
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.
The cost of the money borrowed, usually expressed as a percentage of the whole.
The periodic charge, expressed as a percentage, for the use of credit.
The amount of space or material that can be carried inside the vehicle.
The initial charge to the dealer from the manufacturer, including freight and delivery charges.
– J –
(Slang) An old, dilapidated automobile.
Ownership that is shared by two or more persons.
– K –
A system for locking and unlocking doors of a vehicle with a central locking system without using the key. Usually, the user controls the locks by pressing a button on a remote key-fob transmitter. Some vehicles have electronic combination locks on the doors near the handle.
Kilometers Per Hour (KPH)
Multiply by 0.621 to convert to miles per hour.
A vehicle that is designed for assembly by the private hobbyist.
– L –
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.
The termination of a policy due to failure to pay the premium.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Slang) A vehicle, usually new, that has a large number of defects.
The person who leases a vehicle. The party paying for the use of the vehicle (consumer).
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.
Any legally enforceable obligation.
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.
The limit of insurance the company will pay for on a particular policy.
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.
An individual or company with a financial interest in an insured’s vehicle.
The rear opening on a hatchback.
The distance a person must lift an object off the ground to put it in a trunk or cargo bay.
Adjective that refers to passenger trucks, as opposed to medium-duty or heavy-duty commercial trucks.
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.
Engine-displacement measurement, as in 2.0-liter engine.
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.
The amount sought through an insurer’s claim.
– M –
A tire rating which indicates a tire designed to perform well in mud and snow.
Michigan International Speedway. Site of the 1996 US 500, a CART event.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. The recommended selling price for a vehicle as set by the manufacturer.
A MacPherson strut is a unit that includes a damper or shock absorber cartridge inside a large, long metal spring. MacPherson struts are used over the front wheels of most front-drive cars. Replacement of MacPherson strut cartridges requires a spring compressor.
The manufacturer of the vehicle (BMW, Chrysler, Honda).
The purposeful damaging of another’s property.
Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor (MAP sensor)
Detects engine load by measuring air pressure or vacuum in the intake manifold.
A transmission that varies the power and torque through a foot pedal controlled clutch and a floor-mounted or steering-shaft-mounted gear selection lever.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
The suggested selling price of the vehicle. Does not include destination charges, optional equipment, or taxes.
The price for which something would currently sell.
Mass Airflow Sensor
Device that measures the flow of air entering the throttle housing.
A piston-type pump that produces pressure in the brake hydraulic system.
Medical Payments Coverage
Optional insurance that pays for medical and/or funeral expenses for the driver and passenger of a vehicle.
A medium size car designed to seat four to six passengers.
The lessee’s estimate of how much mileage he will drive during the lease term. If the lessee underestimates how much he drives, he will face an excess mileage charge at lease end.
In a lease transaction, the maximum number of miles the vehicle can be driven by the end of the lease. There is a per-mile penalty for exceeding this limit.
Fees assessed if lessee drives more than the contracted mileage limit.
Miles Per Gallon
Fuel economy measurement. Abbreviated as mpg. Generally, a vehicle sticker may offer mpg ratings for city driving, highway driving, and combined driving.
Minimum Ground Clearance
The distance between the ground and the lowest point of the vehicle chassis (usually the axle). A vehicle can drive over any object shorter than its minimum ground clearance.
The smallest premium that an insurance company will accept for payment on a policy.
The style of the vehicle produced by the manufacturer (Ford Mustang, Chrysler LeBaron, Honda Civic).
The money factor is used to determine the lease rate. For all intents and purposes it is the lease equivalent of the interest rate on a conventional loan. The money factor is the current annual percentage rate divided by 24. To figure out the equivalent interest rate, multiply the money factor by 2400. The money factor usually has two zeroes after the decimal point before the rest of the number, for example 0.004133, so any differences in the figure seem very small, but translated into an interest rate they can make a great difference in the actual finance cost of a lease.
Monroney Sticker Price
The price which appears on the label showing the base price, installed options, transportation charge, and fuel economy. Required by law, it may not be removed by anyone other than the purchaser.
A window-type opening in the roof of the car that can open or tilt up or down. See Sunroof.
“It’s insured; so why worry?” This attitude usually increases the probability of loss or damage.
The exhaust system device in the tailpipe that reduces engine noise. Some vehicles have more than one muffler along the tailpipe.
Independent suspension controlled with several link arms that restrict undesired motion of the suspension for a smoother ride and more precise handling.
Multi-Port Fuel Injection
An electronic fuel-injection method that uses individual injectors to spray fuel directly into each intake port, bypassing the intake manifold. Also called multi-point fuel injection.
Multiple Security Deposits
A lessee may choose to pay additional security deposits (or monthly payments up-front) in exchange for a lower monthly lease payment via a reduced money factor, which reduces the monthly charges.
– N –
National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing; the governing body which sets the rules and regulations for stock car racing.
National Hot Rod Association
The person or company that is designated as the insured.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The federal agency that creates safety regulations for cars and trucks, crash-tests them, and analyzes safety-related defects that may require recalls.
The amount owed on a vehicle loan is greater than its market value.
Failure to use a certain degree of care.
New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)
One of several crash-test programs run by NHTSA. Cars are crashed head-on into a rigid barrier at 35 mph, and instrumented dummies measure crash forces endured by properly restrained occupants. NHTSA assigns each tested vehicle a score indicating the likelihood of moderate, severe or fatal injury.
A mixture of nitric acid and methane which is used to fuel TOP Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars; is also called nitro or top fuel.
A type of insurance where both parties in an accident file claims regardless of fault.
The termination of the insurance policy at the expiration date.
– O –
Orange County International Raceway.
Any event that resulted in a loss or damage to the insured or the insured’s property.
The hydrocarbon substance in gasoline that reduces engine knock or pinging, which is a noise caused by premature ignition of fuel in the cylinder combustion chamber. The higher the octane number, the less chance of premature ignition. High octane, which has a rating above 91, is useful only when recommended by the manufacturer.
Indicates the number of miles a vehicle has been driven. It is illegal to tamper with the odometer reading.
The illegal practice of rolling a vehicle’s odometer back to indicate that it traveled fewer miles than it actually has.
Occurs when the vehicle’s mileage exceeds the mechanical limits of the odometer ? usually 99,999 miles. This must be certified by the seller, under the Truth in Mileage Act.
Also called a Finance or Equity Lease. The lessee is responsible for the difference between the agreed-upon residual value and the fair market value of the vehicle at the end of the lease, if the vehicle is worth less than anticipated. For example, if the vehicle has a market value of $8,000 at the end of the lease, and the residual value was set at $10,000, then the lessee owes the leasing company the difference of $2,000. The lessee has the right to an independent appraisal of the vehicle, at his or her own expense. The payments for an open-end lease are generally lower than those for a closed-end lease.
The cost of using money one way as opposed to using it in another, more economically advantageous way. For example, the loss of interest experienced as a result of removing money from a savings account to be used as a down payment on a vehicle.
Equipment or features that can be added to a particular model which are not part of the standard package. These usually involve additional cost and can be ordered individually or as part of a package.
When the insurance is more than the risk of peril.
A transmission gear with a ratio below 1:1, which improves fuel economy by reducing engine revolutions per minute at highway speeds. On a five-speed manual transmission, the fourth and fifth gears are overdrive. On a four-speed automatic transmission, the fourth gear is overdrive. When an overdrive gear set is engaged, the output shaft turns at a higher rate than the input shaft, reducing engine revolutions at cruising or highway speeds.
Overhead Cam (OHC)
The camshaft is on top of the cylinder head on overhead-cam engines. Single overhead-cam (SOHC) engines have a single cam above the cylinder head. Dual overhead-cam (DOHC) engines have two cams above the cylinder head. All overhead-cam engines are also overhead-valve (OHV) engines, which means the intake and exhaust valves sit atop the cylinder head.
Occurs when the rear tires lose adhesion under cornering. In motorsports, this is also called loose. Oversteer can lead to a spin if the driver doesn’t reduce acceleration. See also Understeer.
Measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust.
– P –
Actually, PPG Industries, founded in 1883 as the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. PPG has been the source of tough urethane finishes on cars racing in the Indianapolis 500 since 1975. In 1980, it became the title sponsor of the PPG Indy Car World Series.
Professional Racers Organization
Acronym for pounds per square inch. A pressure measurement used in tire inflation and turbocharger boost.
Seen at NASCAR and Indy races, the pace car leads race cars out of the pole position at beginning of races or after a yellow flag or restart has been called.
The ledge between the rear seat and the backlight (or rear windshield). The name is misleading because it’s a bad idea to put anything on the package shelf. However, it often contains the sound system’s rear speakers and, on some vehicles, the CHMSL or center brake light. Sometimes also called the package tray. On European cars the package tray often contains a first-aid kit; on higher-end models it may contain storage compartments.
Papers of Origin
Manufacturer documents used to obtain vehicle titles.
Any loss that does not completely destroy the property or exhaust the insurance.
A device or structure that automatically helps restrain vehicle occupants in an impact. This includes airbags, belt pretensioners, padded knee bolsters, and shoulder belts that are motorized, or attached to the door.
A cause of a possible loss.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
A broad type of medical payments insurance. Usually offers protection for expenses incurred up to a dollar amount.
A generic term that describes injury or damage to property.
The material of the risk itself.
The type of truck with an open cargo bed behind the closed cab.
A type of gear that has small teeth that mesh with other, larger gears.
The heavy, cylindrical metal shaft within each engine cylinder that travels up and down to turn the crankshaft, compress the air and fuel mixture for combustion and expel exhaust gases.
The amount of time that the policy covers (i.e., six months or two years).
The person who has possession of the policy.
Positive Crankcase Ventilation Valve
An emission device that routes oil pan vapors to the intake manifold to be burned during combustion. Also known as the PCV valve.
The vehicle’s market value is greater than the amount the borrower owes on it.
Another name for a vehicle’s engine.
A steering system that uses a separate motor or engine power to reduce the effort necessary to turn the front wheels.
The maximum power output of the vehicle per unit mass. The higher the ratio, the more powerful the vehicle. In comparing several vehicles, this can be a better measurement than engine horsepower or torque because it considers the weight variable. In other words, a car that seems to have a powerful engine but is also heavy may have less get-up-and-go than a vehicle that has a similar or less powerful engine but also weighs less.
The combination of engine and transmission.
The periodic payment to keep the policy enforced.
Charges incurred by the dealer while preparing a vehicle for delivery to the buyer.
Holds the clutch disc against the flywheel.
A device that rapidly yanks in shoulder-belt slack when a crash sensor detects an impact. Some pretensioners are activated by a small explosive charge in the belt retractor; some contain their own inertial sensors. So far, pretensioners are still found on more expensive models, particularly those by European manufacturers. By pulling in belt slack within milliseconds of an impact, pretensioners help reduce chest and head injury by restricting occupant motion and preventing the occupant from hitting the belt.
Road rallies which are very competitive and are run at high speeds on roads closed to the public. Often sponsored by the SCCA.
A method of starting a drag race that differs from most starts in that it only has one amber light between the initial staging and the final lights on the “Christmas Tree.”
A headlight that uses a spherical reflector to tightly control the light beam. The bulb or light source directs the light inward, toward the reflector at the back of the headlight assembly, which then projects it forward from the vehicle. These lights are more powerful, accurate and expensive than standard sealed-beam and halogen headlights, and are generally found on sport and luxury models.
Proof of Loss
A formal statement made by the insured to the insurance company regarding a loss.
Property Damage Liability
The protection of the property when not under control of the insured.
The lessee’s right to purchase the vehicle, if he so chooses, at lease end. It’s a good idea to negotiate a purchase-option price at the same time you negotiate the capitalized cost and residual value, if possible. Some contracts lock-in a pre-determined value for the vehicle.
A metal rod that transmits the motion of the camshaft to the valve actuators to open and close the valves. Used on engines with overhead valves but without overhead camshafts.
– Q –
Sheet of metal panel that covers the front and rear quarters of the vehicle.
– R –
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.
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.
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.
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.
A convertible with a soft top.
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.
The per unit cost of insurance.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)
The drivetrain in which power is applied through the rear wheels only.
An illegal action wherein the agent gives the insured a portion of his or her commission to entice the purchase of insurance.
A partial reimbursement from the manufacturer, to either the dealer or buyer, for purchasing a vehicle.
A manufacturer calls in vehicles to repair defects, usually safety-related. Recalls may be voluntary, requested by the government, or mandated by NHTSA.
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.
Another name for the security deposit when leasing a vehicle.
Unfairly discriminating against a risk because of its location.
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.
Payment of the amount according to the loss or damage of property.
Disengages the clutch disc from the flywheel by pressing on the pressure plate release springs.
The continuation of coverage that is about to expire.
The amount charged in addition to the depreciation and any amortized costs.
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-
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.
The outer edge of a bare wheel.
Any chance of loss or damage.
The body panel that runs beneath a vehicle’s doors.
A protective steel cage to prevent driver injury during a 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
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.
– S –
The Sports Car Club of America sponsors many racing events in the U.S. It also supplies many of the Race Officials and Workers for Road Racing by other groups. Most SCCA events are geared toward participation by SCCA members.
SCORE Off-Road Desert Championship
Short Course Off-Road Enterprises. SCORE now stages and promotes Off Road Truck races and events. Season starts in Arizona each January, ending in November with the Ford Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
Spokane Raceway Park
Safe Driver Plan
Discounts for a good driving record.
May be required in some lease contracts. It is similar to a security deposit on an apartment. This money is held to cover any payments that might be missed. This deposit may or may not be refundable. It is usually equivalent to one month’s lease payment.
A two- or four-door car that can hold four to six people. Includes a trunk in the rear.
An algorithm is a mathematical formula or series of formulas used by an on-board computer or processor to make a decision. In an airbag system, a crash-sensor algorithm determines whether the change in velocity indicates an impact of great enough force to require airbag deployment, based on pre-programmed parameters. If the change in velocity is great enough, the processor sends a signal to the device that inflates the airbag.
Sequential Fuel Injection
A sequential fuel injection system times the opening of the injectors to match the opening of the intake valve into each cylinder.
A claim payment
On a vehicle with automatic transmission, a safety device that prevents the driver from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal is depressed.
Suspension device near each wheel that dampens the up-and-down movement of the vehicle. Inside a shock absorber, a piston rides up and down in a cylinder filled with thick fluid or compressed gas. The shock absorber counteracts the up-and-down movement allowed by the springs.
A policy written for a period of time that is shorter than usual for that type of coverage.
An inflatable cushion that fills the space between the door and the occupant to prevent head, torso and pelvis injuries when a vehicle is hit from the side. Side airbags may be stored in the door-trim panel or the outboard side of the seat; they may protect the hip and torso only or also protect the head. A new design, called an inflatable tubular restraint, is stored in the edge of the roof headliner and attached at the base of the A-pillar at the front end and above the doors along the roofline at the other. The device inflates into a somewhat stiff tube that prevents the occupant’s head fro
Federal safety regulations require that vehicles absorb a certain amount of force when hit from the side. To meet side-impact standards, automakers have stiffened side-impact beams, which resist intrusion into the passenger compartment, and added safety devices such as side airbags and extra padding, which are designed to push the occupant toward the interior of the vehicle and away from the point of intrusion.
Interest paid or computed only on the original principal of a loan.
Single Overhead Cam (SOHC)
An engine with a single overhead cam generally has one intake and one exhaust valve per cylinder; the single cam opens and closes both valves. See also Overhead Cam and Dual Overhead Cam.
Single Pay Advantage
The lessee pays the entire lease amount in one payment in exchange for a lower money factor. Single-pay advantage was designed to overcome cash customers’ objections to monthly payments. Unlike an actual cash purchase, however, the lessee still pays the financing cost.
A type racing tire characteristically very wide with no tread.
Smart airbags don’t exist yet, but NHTSA expects automakers and their suppliers to have them perfected sometime after the year 2000. There are many designs, but each contains similar elements including a system of sensors and mathematical algorithms to detect the presence or absence of an occupant in the seat; to determine the size, weight and nature of any occupant (including whether it is a rear-facing infant and determine whether the occupant is an adult, a dog, a bag of groceries or a rear-facing infant seat); and to determine whether the occupant is too close to the airbag door for safe d
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
An engineering organization that shares research information and sets industrywide standards.
A racing event sponsored by the SCCA, focused on Time Trial and Hill Climbs.
Autocross racing event sponsored by the SCCA.
Converts voltage into an arc that passes between its electrodes; the arc ignites the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. The mixture explodes, creating power by pushing down the piston.
Usually on the rear of the vehicle, it changes the direction of airflow in order to reduce drag.
Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)
Refers to a style of truck which has a square passenger cabin and hatchback, and may be equipped with two- or four-wheel drive.
A body type designation. Generally a small, powerful car seating only two people.
Two types of sprint cars exist, the first is the USAC open-wheel cars that feature a upright roll cage. The second is a similar car that has a large wing mounted to the top for stability; this is used by the World of Outlaws.
An electric motor powered by the battery that turns the crankshaft before the pistons begin operating.
The first section or portion of a race track.
A two- or four-door passenger car with a cargo area that extends all the way to the rear bumper.
The ratio of the different steering gears. Usually a lower gear means a faster response.
The price of a vehicle found on the sticker attached to one of its windows. Generally, the MSRP.
Stock Car Racing
Started by NASCAR’s founder, Bill France, in the 1940s. Initially meant track cars equipped with showroom parts. Today, few cars use stock parts. Most are built from custom parts, made especially for these race cars, that look like those in showrooms.
The up-and-down distance the piston travels within the cylinder. On a traditional internal combustion engine, the piston makes four strokes during the combustion cycle, only one of which is a power stroke. On the power stroke, the piston is near the top of the cylinder, and it has compressed the air and fuel mixture. The spark plug ignites the mixture, and the force of the explosion pushes the piston down into the cylinder, producing the force that turns the crankshaft. The piston returns to the top of the cylinder to expel the exhaust gases on the second, or exhaust, stroke. It slides down to
The car size class one step up from the minicar.
A special lease, subsidized by an auto manufacturer, that features a low money factor rate or high residual value, making the monthly payments extremely attractive. Automakers increasingly are using subvented-lease specials instead of rebates to boost sales of particular models.
Sunday Afternoon Rally
One day rallies, usually run by a local car club. These may be run on public access roads.
A window-type opening in the roof of the vehicle that can tilt or slide open.
Serves the same function as a turbocharger but avoids lag time because it runs off an engine-driven pump. Both turbochargers and superchargers are used to produce more power without increasing engine displacement, but neither are particularly fuel efficient and both can require costly maintenance as vehicles age.
A standard piece of equipment of Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters, this provides more power by blowing a combination of more air and vaporized fuel into the car’s engine.
The agreement or policy that an agency will pay defense costs, premiums, and interests.
Springs, shock absorbers, struts, and links used to suspend the frame, body and engine above the wheels.
Engine lubricant not derived from raw petroleum. It has superior engine-protection properties but costs as much as five times more than petroleum oil.
– T –
The instrument gauge that shows engine speed, or revolutions per minute. On a vehicle with manual transmission, the driver can use the tachometer to tell when to upshift or downshift. Also called tach.
A pivoting actuator that opens and closes cylinder intake and exhaust valves.
A loan repaid in a lump sum, including interest, at the end of the loan period.
An amount sometimes charged at the end of a lease.
Third Party Insurance
Protection for the damage of property or bodies of others.
Throttle-Body Fuel Injection
A form of electronic fuel injection in which the injectors are centrally located in a throttle-body housing that contains a valve to regulate air flow through the intake manifold. Less efficient and precise than multi-port or sequential fuel injection.
A valve in a fuel injection pump which times the delivery of fuel.
The government-issued document that proves ownership of a specific vehicle.
A wheel-alignment term that indicates the leading edges of a pair of wheels angle slightly toward each other. Front-drive cars are often aligned with slight toe-in to compensate for the effects of torque steer, or the tendency of the front wheels to pull to the side under hard acceleration.
A wheel-alignment term that indicates the leading edges of a pair of wheels angle slightly away from each other.
The fastest of drag racing vehicles, these have a characteristicly long body and use top fuel which accounts for the tremendous speeds these vehicles can attain.
A measure of twisting force, given in foot-pounds (abbreviated as lb.-ft.) or Newton-meters (N-m). In the case of an automobile, it is the twisting or rotational force the engine exerts on the crankshaft. Vehicle specifications often include the maximum torque an engine produces at a specific number of revolutions. An engine that produces 200 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 revolutions per minute, or 200 lb.-ft.@ 3,000 rpm, accelerates better at low speeds than an engine that provides 200 lb.-ft.@5,000 rpm.
In an automatic transmission, a fluid coupling or electronic control that transmits power from the engine to the wheels. It allows the transmission to remain in gear while the vehicle is stopped. The fluid absorbs power and prevents the engine from stalling.
The tendency of the front wheels on a front-drive vehicle to pull to the side under hard acceleration.
A simple, rugged type of suspension spring that twists as it is compressed or stretched.
A vehicle body’s resistance to twisting motions.
Any loss of sufficient size where there is nothing left of value of the property.
Towing & Labor
Pays for towing and labor at the site of an automobile breakdown.
The amount of weight a vehicle can tow behind it.
Vehicle width, measured from the center of one tire’s contact patch to the center of the opposite tire’s contact patch.
The amount of friction between the tire and the ground.
A system for limiting wheel slip under acceleration, thus maintaining each wheel’s contact with the road surface. Traction-control systems generally use the anti-lock braking system to stop wheel spin and reduce power from one or more engine cylinders when an electronic sensor detects wheel spin.
The amount a dealership credits you for the used vehicle you provide as partial payment for another vehicle. The amount credited is often about 5 percent below the vehicle’s wholesale market value.
Buying a less expensive vehicle than the one currently owned.
Buying a more expensive vehicle than the one currently owned.
A combined transmission and differential on front-drive vehicles.
On four-wheel drive vehicles, a gearbox that allows power to be delivered to front and rear wheels.
The gearbox that delivers power from the engine crankshaft to the drive axle or drive shaft. Most modern cars have a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
Pays for car rental expenses if the vehicle is not driveable.
A tire rating consisting of a number followed by two letters, such as 300AB. The number indicates the useful life of the tire, the first letter (A, B, or C, A for best, C for worst) indicates its traction in wet conditions, and the second letter (A, B, or C, A for best, C for worst) its resistance to heat buildup.
A fully independent rear suspension featuring a single fiberglass or composite leaf spring.
The level of options or features added to a model (Ford Mustand GT, Chrysler LeBaron XL).
Truth in Leasing
Also known as the Consumer Leasing Act of 1976, this act was designed to protect consumers against inadequate and misleading lease information.
A regularly scheduled maintenance to check normal operation of the vehicle.
An integral piece of the turbocharger, this small fan drives the compressor.
The time it takes the turbocharger to kick in after the driver accelerates; the lag results because a turbocharger compressor is spun by exhaust gases in the exhaust manifold.
Device that compresses and forces extra air into the intake manifold to produce extra power. Both turbochargers and superchargers are used to produce more power without increasing engine displacement, but neither are particularly fuel efficient and both can require costly maintenance as vehicles age.
By forcing fuel through the engine, this system allows the car to gather more speed.
A semi-independent rear axle often used on front-drive vehicles. The horizontal beam, which connects the two rear wheels, can twist to reduce the effect of one wheel’s motion on the other. Less expensive and more compact than fully independent suspension.
Trying to induce a policyholder under false pretense to terminate an existing policy to take a new one.
A vehicle that can only accommodate the driver and one passenger.
Two-Wheel Drive (2WD)
A vehicle drivetrain which distributes power to two wheels.
– U –
United States Auto Club, governs most auto racing in North America. An all inclusive organization that includes Indy Car, Sprint Cars, Silver Crown Cars, and midgets.
Umbrella Liability Policy
A liability coverage that goes above and beyond the normal coverage.
Brought in if the agency and policyholder don’t agree on the amount of loss or damage to a property.
Occurs when the front wheels have lost adhesion or the driver is turning the steering wheel too sharply for the vehicle’s speed. In understeer, the front wheels do not follow the steering wheel angle, and the car refuses to turn and pushes ahead. In motorsports, this is called push. The driver can regain traction by reducing speed. Also may be called plow.
A person who is trained to evaluate risks and determines rates for policies based on those risks.
The process of verifying data and approving a loan.
The portion of an advanced premium that has not been used for coverage.
Tire whose tread pattern is designed to get optimum traction only when the tire is mounted to roll in one direction.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Insurance which pays for costs resulting from a hit-and-run or an accident with an uninsured motorist.
A situation which occurs when the value of your vehicle is lower than the outstanding balance on your vehicle loan. Also called negative equity.
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In a V-6, V-8 or V-12 engine, the cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a ‘V.’ Typically, this angle is 60 degrees on V-6 engines and 90 degrees on V-8 engines.
A vehicle with six cylinders. The cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a ‘V.’ Typically, this angle is 60 degrees on V-6 engines.
A vehicle with eight cylinders. the cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a ‘V.’ Typically, this angle is 90 degrees on V-8 engines.
The valves and camshaft(s) within an engine, and any parts attached to the valves, such as rockers and pushrods, to move them up and down.
Many overhead-cam engines, particularly multi-valve models, are described by the total number of intake and exhaust valves in the cylinder head. A 24-valve V-6 engine would have four valves per cylinder: two intake and two exhaust valves. A 16-valve V-8 engine has only the standard single exhaust and single intake valve for each of its eight cylinders.
A box-shaped truck with a forward cab and a cargo area to the back bumper.
The willful physical damage to a property.
A power-steering system that varies the amount of assistance it provides according to driving conditions. It provides maximum assistance at low speeds for maneuvers such as turning into a parking space or turning a corner after leaving a stop light. It provides minimum assistance at cruising or highway speeds to provide greater vehicle stability.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
A seventeen-digit identification number, unique to each vehicle, which includes codes for the manufacturer, year, model, body, and engine specifications.
Vented Disc Brakes
A brake disc that has cooling passages between the friction surfaces.
A term used to describe a policy contract that is free of all legal effect.
– W –
The agreement to forego premium payment during a period of disability.
Another name for a closed-end lease. A leasing contract in which the residual value, or final value, of the vehicle at the end of the term, has been specified. The lessee is not required to buy the vehicle, or make up any shortfall in its residual value.
The pump that circulates coolant through the engine block, cylinder head and radiator. It is driven by the engine crankshaft.
Wear and Use
Normal depreciation of a vehicle under average daily use.
Determined by the diameter and width of the wheel on which the tire is mounted. A 15-inch wheel has a diameter of 15 inches. A 15 X 7 wheel has a 15-inch diameter and a 7-inch width.
The distance between the front and rear axles of a vehicle.
The price that the retailer expects to pay for a vehicle.
The creme de la creme of NASCAR racing, the drivers are going for all the marbles in this race that spans the entire season as drivers accumulate points at each of 31 events. The driver that accumulates the most points, not the most wins, becomes the eventual Winston Cup winner.