Taking your car in to a garage to be repaired, serviced or for its MOT can be daunting at the best of times. You are presented with jargon, acronyms and phrases that baffle and confuse. How are you supposed to make an informed decision about anything when you don’t know what the hell anyone is talking about?

Fear not! Below is guide to explain some of the most common and not so common words and terms you are likely to come across when visiting your local garage.

A

Air Conditioning (AC)
Air conditioning produces cold air which can be blown in through your vehicle’s fans. Sometimes used within a Climate Control system, it helps keep the temperature inside your car from getting too hot.

Airbags
Most modern vehicles have several airbags positioned in various areas within your car. They are safety devices that only inflate if you are in a collision. They provide a cushion or bag of air that protects you from hard surfaces.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
ABS acts to stop your car’s brakes from locking the wheels and going in to a skid. When you are in a skid you have less control over the direction the vehicle goes and therefore are more likely to crash. When you brake hard ABS rapidly applies and releases the brakes to stop this from happening.

B

Brake Calliper
Almost all cars have front disc brakes, with many also having them at the rear as well. When the brake pedal is pressed it forces a piston inside of the calliper to push the brake pads against the brake discs slowing or stopping the car. Your car will have either two or four callipers.

Brake Disc
The circular piece of metal that is attached to each wheel is known as the brake disc. When the brakes are applied the calliper squeezes the brake pads against the brake disc to slow or stop the car.

Brake Pads
Brake pads are probably the most important part of your brakes because they are the component that makes contact with the brake discs. They are made from a hard material which gradually wears away, so getting them checked regularly is important.

C

Catalytic Converter
A catalytic converter is a part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and it helps to reduce harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide by converting them into less harmful gases or water. They’re normally reliable, but when they go wrong they can be costly.

Coil Springs
Forming part of the car’s suspension, coil springs help make the ride more comfortable and aid in the vehicles handling.

Cylinder
One of the main parts in a car’s engine, the cylinder is the void that the piston moves within.

D

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)
The car’s Diesel Particulate Filter removes the soot from a diesel engine.

E

Engine Oil
Used to reduce friction, engine oil keeps everything moving and reduces wear and tear on moving parts. Engine oil needs to be replaced regularly and levels also need checking. Without sufficient oil your car’s engine will eventually seize up.

Exhaust
Connected to your car’s catalytic converter the exhaust system directs fumes away, it also helps with noise reduction.

F

Fan Belt
Not so common on modern cars, as fans are often electric, the fan belt connects the engine with your cooling fan. The fan then cools the water in your radiator, stopping your car’s engine from overheating.

H

Handbrake
The clue is in the name, it is simply a hand operated brake applied when the vehicle has stopped or is parked. It is normally connected via a handbrake cable to your rear brakes – though some cars have an electronic version

I

Immobiliser
A security device, the immobiliser stops the vehicle from being started without the correct key.

J

Jack
Normally supplied with most car’s when new and often found in the boot well next to the spare wheel, it is used to raise the car off the ground to enable the changing of a wheel, normally in an emergency.

L

Lights
Lights are everywhere in the modern car, from headlights, indicator lights, interior lights and even warning lights. It’s very important to make sure all your lights are working correctly – and never ignore a warning light.

N

Navigation system
Also known as Satellite Navigation or a ‘Sat Nav’ more and more cars have these built in. Not only can it speak directions to you and show your position on a map, some also give additional information such as traffic info, warnings of accidents or delays, or even where the nearest petrol station is.

P

Power steering
Power steering makes turning the steering wheel easier with the use of either hydraulic or electric motors. This is especially useful when the vehicle is moving very slowly, such as when you are parking.

R

Rear wheel drive
As opposed to front wheel drive or four wheel drive, vehicles with rear wheel drive only have power to the rear wheels only

S

Shock absorbers
Shock absorbers form part of the suspension and are used to absorb the impact of uneven or bumpy road surfaces, helping to keep the tyres firmly in contact with the road at all times.

Spark plugs
Found in petrol engines, the spark plug provides the spark that ignites the fuel within the cylinder, which in turn moves the piston – thus starting the combustion process.

T

Temperature gauge
This shows you whether the engine is running too cold, correctly, or too hot. If the temperature gauge shows that the engine is overheating then always stop immediately.

Tread
Having the correct amount of tread on your tyres is not only a legal requirement it is also very important for your safety. The minimum legal requirement is 1.6mm on at least three quarters of the tyre, however some experts believe this is insufficient to guarantee safety and that tyres should be replaced when 3mm of tread remains.

V

Valves (engine)
Engine valves open and close allowing fuel and air into the cylinder and spent gasses out.

W

Water Pump
Part of the cooling system, the water pump circulates coolant from the radiator (cooled by a fan) around the engine in order to keep it from overheating.

At DCS Bristol we always explain everything in a clear, simple to understand way and are happy to answer any questions you might have. To arrange an appointment for your vehicle please call us on 0117 972 4343 or email info@dcsbristol.co.uk.