A Handy Glossary of Auto Repair Terms
July 21st, 2016
For the average driver, auto repair terminology and jargon can be a lot to digest. That's why we thought it'd be a good idea to give a quick rundown of terms you might hear from a service adviser or automotive tech.
Air Filter: This is the paper or fabric baffle that traps small particulates of pollen or dust before they have a chance to enter the engine through the fuel system. A clogged air filter can restrict air flow to the point of hurting fuel economy and performance.
ABS: Antilock Braking System, which uses a system of sensors, pumps and valves to proportion braking force to each wheel electronically, maintaining braking control and preventing skids. On newer vehicles, the ABS system works with Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control to enhance safety in an emergency situation.
CAN bus: Controller Area Network bus, which allows sensors and microprocessors in the vehicle to communicate with each other without the need for a host computer. CAN bus systems are integral to modern automotive design and control practically every function in the car.
Diagnostics: Since the late 80s, cars and trucks have been designed with a system of sensors that feed information to the engine/powertrain computer, which then uses that data to control timing, fuel metering, emissions, transmission shift points, etc. When a sensor is sending information that's outside of normal parameters, the computer stores a "trouble code," illuminating the Check Engine light and making it simple for a mechanic to access the code using a scanner.
Drive-by-wire: Despite its somewhat misleading name, drive-by-wire connects the gas pedal to the engine and throttle via wireless connection.
EFI: Electronic Fuel Injection, which delivers the fuel/air mixture to the cylinders. Governed by the vehicle's computer, EFI systems deliver better reliability, performance and fuel economy than the mechanical carburetors of a generation ago.
EGR: Exhaust Gas Recirculation, which diverts a portion of exhaust gases back into the engine to be re-burned, lowering nitrogen oxide emissions and cutting combustion temperaturs.
Idler pulley: The tensioner for the serpentine belt or timing belt. The idler pulley isn't driven by anything; it provides spring-loaded tension to keep the belt taut.
OBD-II: Beginning in the 90s, OBD-II became the standard system for onboard diagnostics across almost all makes.
Regenerative braking: In hybrid vehicles and electrics, regenerative braking switches the motors from drive/output mode to generator mode, helping use the vehicle's kinetic energy to recharge the battery while driving and braking.
We hope this list helps clear up some of the more esoteric terms you might hear around an auto repair shop. Got any questions? Got a problem you'd like to have addressed? Make an appointment with us at JBC Tire Complete Auto Care!