Commonly used car abbreviations (Jargon Buster)

When it comes to buying a used car, you don’t only have to just logon to ediaro Automobile ( or just pick up the local newspaper paper to find that the advertised cars are filled withCommon abbreviations used in car abbreviations and jargon. After scanning only a few motors you quickly feel like you need to speak a completely different language to make sense of them.

To easen this tension, we at ediaro Automobile have compiled most of the abbreviations and slangs you can come across when scouting to buy your car. The list is not perfectly exhaustive, but it should reasonably help you when it comes to not only deciphering the code the used car ads seem to written in, but when negotiating a price on your next car.

Finally, remember that when it comes to writing your perfect ad, don’t fall into the trap – avoid the jargon and keep the abbreviations to a minimum!


ABC – Active Body Control. This system uses a number of sensors to monitor the body movement of a car at all times. It can then adjust the suspension accordingly, helping to reduce body roll when braking, cornering or accelerating.
A/C – Air Conditioning.
ALR – Automatic Locking Retractor, also goes under the name emergency locking retractor. Seatbelts usually have an emergency locking feature.
Auto – Automatic transmission – a car with no clutch or manual gears.
AWD – All-Wheel –Drive. The majority of cars are two wheel drive vehicles, with the engine driving through either the front or back wheels. AWD provides improved traction off road or in freezing conditions (snow and ice), worth remembering though that they do increase fuel consumption.
APR – Annual percentage rate – the real cost of the loan you take out on your car.
AYC –  Active Yaw Control, as used by Mitsubishi on later Evo models to sense and inhibit excessive understeer or oversteer – or yaw. A form of stability control by any other name.


BHP – Brake Horse Power. This is a measure of an engine’s horsepower without the loss in power caused by the gearbox, generator, water pump, differential and any other auxiliary components such as power steering, alternator or the AC compressor. The term “brake” refers to the original use of a band brake to measure torque during test (which is multiplied by the engine RPM and a scaling constant to give horsepower).
Brake Assist – a system that senses when the brake has been used in an emergency and follows this with an artificial production of maximum braking effort.
BIK – Benefit in Kind taxation. The tax imposed on company car users for the notional value of being supplied with a car. Complex scale takes into account value of car, mileage driven and emissions rating.
Biofuel – At the moment the availability of cars that can take biofuels is limited but expanding. Biofuels include corn-based ethanol and rapeseed-oil biodiesel.


Catalytic Converter – A catalytic converter is a metal box with chemical catalysts inside it that sits underneath your car. There’s a pipe going into one end of the converter from the car engine and another pipe going out of the other end of the converter to the car’s exhaust. The catalysts make chemical reactions happen that convert the molecules of pollution into simple, harmless gases. These are much safer to pass into the outside air.
C/C – Cruise Control. With cruise control you set the speed you want to maintain and the system automatically adjust your engine power in order to maintain this speed. To override this system you can either brake or accelerate.
C/coded – Colour coded.
CO2 Emissions – figures detailing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by an engine.
C/L – Central locking
Clocking – The odometer mileage reading is changed to increase the value of the car
Contract Hire – Instead of buying the car outright, with a contract hire deal you can lease it over a set period and then hand it back to the lease company.
CRS – Child Restraint System, a much more sinister term for a child’s car seat, booster seat or cushion.
CVT – Continuously Variable Transmission, an increasingly popular form of automatic transmission which has either no steps at all (unlike a ‘conventional’ automatic) or a number of fixed steps with steplessly variable ratios between them. Unlike a conventional automatic gearbox, a continuously variable transmission can change steplessly through several effective gear ratios. It should boost fuel economy because the engine operates in its most efficient rev range for the speed.


Depreciation – Every car loses some of its value as you drive it. Those that depreciate the least make the best used cars. The lowest depreciating cars still lose around 50% of their value after three years.
 – Diesel Direct Injection. This is when diesel fuel is squirted directly into the combustion chamber with extreme pressure. This helps to deliver improved control, fuel efficiency and controls noise and vibrations.
DME – Digital motor electronics, another name for Electronic Engine Management that controls ignition, fuel injection and other systems for optimum performance, emissions control and efficiency.
DOHC – double overhead camshaft, also known as Dual overhead camshaft or twin cam. This is characterized by two camshafts being located within the cylinder head, one for inlet and one for exhaust valves. Typical automotive engines equipped with dual overhead camshafts can have from two to four camshafts in total, depending on the engine configuration. The term Twin Cam doesn’t tell the exact location of camshafts, but it is mostly used to describe DOHC structure.
Down-payment – The money you pay upfront for a car to reduce your monthly payments.
DPF – A diesel particulate filter traps up to 100% of soot particles from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine to improve local air quality. A must for ‘clean’ diesels.
Drive by wire – A system that uses an electronic position sensor to connect the accelerator pedal to the fuel-injection unit, rather than a traditional mechanical link. It’s more precise, so saves on fuel.
DSTC – Dynamic stability and traction control system, Combines electronic stability control and traction control. Traction control adjusts engine power and sometimes applies brake force to limit the amount the driven wheels can slip when you try to accelerate hard. Stability control senses steering wheel input and car body movement to detect the onset of sliding or spinning. Automatically applies braking effort to individual wheels and adjusts engine power to restore stability.
DVLA – The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency where you must record changes of vehicle ownership.
DVD – Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. This is the current favoured choice for storing information on a disc. They are used to store anything from music, film and the details for Sat Nav systems.


EBA – Electronic Brake Assistance.
EBD – Electronic Brake force Distribution. This system helps to balance breaking effort with the front and rear wheels. This is mainly to prevent the rear wheels from locking up as weight transfers forwards, helping to maintain control and stability when hard breaking has occurred.
ECC – Electronic Climate Control. This automatically maintains a preset temperature within the car. This is achieved by either cooling or heating the incoming air.
ECU – Electronic Control Unit – also named electronic engine management. This is an integrated way of controlling functions such as fuel metering and delivery, as well as ignition.
EFI – Electronic Fuel Injection. Simply a way of getting fuel into a petrol engine.
EGR – Exhaust Gas Recirculation. A system which recirculates a proportion of exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber, to lower combustion temperatures and reduce emissions, particularly of harmful oxides of nitrogen.
ENCAP – European New Car Assessment Programme. This is a stringent European wide vehicle testing programme for safety. The safest cars receiving the much sought after 5 star rating.
ESR – Electric sunroof
ESP – Electronic Stability Programme. A system which typically uses a series of sensors in order analyse a vehicles cornering stability and when necessary reduce power or selectively apply gentle braking to correct any under or over steer.
EW – Electric windows


FHC – Fixed-head coupé, coupé describes a car with two doors and two seats. A fixed-head coupé has a roof that you can’t fold down or remove.
 – Full Service History. Here you will find all the servicing history, along with MOT certificates, repair invoices and other documents giving a comprehensive view of the way the car has been used and maintained.
4WD – Four Wheeled Drive.


GPS – Global Positioning System. This refers to the use of satellite generated information to calculate a vehicle’s precise position. The essential reference point for satellite navigation systems.


H/seats – Heated seats
HRW – Heated rear window
Hybrid Fuel – Referring to a new generation of high efficiency, low emission vehicles. This car combines conventional petrol engine with a rechargeable electric motor to achieve better fuel economy. Batteries are recharged during normal driving, via the alternator and regenerative brakes.


ICE – In car entertainment
Independent suspension 
– A system where every wheel is sprung separately so that if you ride over a bump it does not affect the entire vehicle – this is now fairly standard on most new cars.
Intelligent Cruise Control 
– you may also hear the term Adaptive Cruise Control. This combines all the functions of cruise control, maintaining a set up speed, together with distance sensing to reduce your speed if needed.
Immob – Engine immobiliser
IDI – Indirect Diesel Injection. Instead of injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber, the fuel goes into a pre-chamber
I/R/S – Independent Rear Suspension. Each rear wheel is mounted and able to move in isolation from the other wheel. This can improve handling and comfort in comparison to cars with rear wheels linked to a common axle.
ISOFIX – referring to the standard child restraint system or child seat restraint system. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardisation.


Kit car – A car assembled from a collection of parts.


Lease – This is a method of car finance where you take the car for a period of years and make payments based on the
difference between the retail price and the car’s value at the end of the term. Once this predetermined term has passed, you must return the vehicle to the leasing company.
LED – Light Emitting Diodes. This is a compact, high intensity, fast reacting light source. LED has numerous uses including alarm system indicators and high intensity stoplights.
LHD – Left hand drive
Lemon – A dud car; a bud buy. A mechanically unsound car or a vehicle with a dubious history.


Man – Manual transmission
MET paint 
– short version of Metallic Paint.
Mileage (MGP) – is literally a distance measured in miles (Miles per gallon). It’s distance travelled as measured by an odometer.
MPV – Multi Purpose Vehicle, not multi people vehicle, known more as a people carrier.


NCRS – New Car Security System. Basically how easy (or hard) your car is to break into and to drive away.


OBC – On Board Computer. You can however obtain estimated arrival times, fuel consumption, time to next service etc.
OCD – Occupant Detection System. A feature of advanced airbag protection systems. If the system detects that no front passenger is on board then in the event of an accident the airbag will not deploy. The system may also be able to detect the size and position of the passenger, meaning that the airbag can be deployed in a way that provides maximum protection.

ONO – Or nearest offer
OIRO – Offers in the region of


PAB – Power assisted Breaks.
PAS – Power assisted Steering. Providing variable levels of assistance depending on your road speed.
PCP – An abbreviation for personal contract purchase, where the driver leases the vehicle over a set period with a mileage limit and has the option to buy or return the vehicle at the end of the term.
PDC – Park Distance Control. Sensors will detect obstacles and alert you when you are getting near.


Residual value – The resale value of a used car, that it is what it is worth after it has depreciated in value. Those with the strongest residual values are the best to sell on at a later point.
Regenerative brakes – These reduce fuel use by recouping the ‘wasted’ energy from braking. Captured energy is stored in a battery to power an electric motor or, in BMW’s stop-start system, to take some load off the normal engine when driving.


Sat Nav – Satellite Navigation. Sat Nav tells you how to get to where you want to go.
Steering ratio – How far you have to turn the steering wheel compared to how far the wheels actually turn.
STC – Stability Traction Control system. This combines electronic system control and traction control. Stability control senses steering wheel input and car body movement to detect the onset of sliding or spinning. Traction control adjusts engine power and can apply brake force to limit the amount the driven wheels can slip when accelerating hard.
SUV – Sport Utility Vehicle. Also known as 4×4, and certain estate cars.


TA – Traffic Announcements (or TP, Traffic Programme). Interrupts normal programme with broadcast traffic information.
T/C – Traction control
TDi – Turbo-diesel injection/Turbo-direct injection, a turbocharger is a fan driven by the flow of exhaust gases that forces more air into the engine’s cylinders. More air means that more fuel can be burned giving a significant increase in power and performance.
TNT – Taxed and tested, the car has current road tax and an MoT certificate.
Transponder key – The key talks electronically to the car, with complexly coded signals from embedded chips. If key and car don’t recognise each other, no-one is going anywhere.
Traction Control – see STC


Understeer – When a car pushes straight on rather than reacting to turn in the desired steering direction. This is usually a trait of two-wheel drive cars.


VGC – Very good condition
VIN– ‘Vehicle Identification Number’ (VIN or chassis number). A security safeguard, individually coding each car.  It usually has 17 digits and is found on a metal plate in the engine bay of the car. You will find the numbers etched onto numerous components that can include body shell or windscreen.It is also sometimes stamped into the car’s floor near the driver’s door.
V5 – The logbook for all British cars that is used for registration purposes – you should not buy a car without it.

Write off – A damaged or stolen car which the insurance company has decided to pay an agreed value for, rather than paying for the cost of repairs. May still be roadworthy depending on the category.


ZEV – Standing for zero emissions vehicle, this is a car that produces no harmful emissions whatsoever such as an electric car.



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