A Cheat Sheet for Car Terms [Infographic]

Car terminology can be confusing if you don’t speak the language. You don’t have to know what every piece of tech is called, but it helps to know some basic terms — especially if you’re planning to car shop in the near future.

Here are some basic auto words that may come up as you’re touring a car lot.


  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD). A vehicle drivetrain in which the engine powers all four wheels at once. Also called four-wheel drive.
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). A computer-controlled braking system that prevents your wheels from locking up by pulsing your brakes multiple times per second. It will help you steer as long as you don’t lift your foot and disengage the braking system.
  • Automatic Temperature Control (ATC). A system that automatically keeps your vehicle at a preset temperature by controlling your heating and cooling systems.
  • Center-Locking Differential. On all-wheel drive vehicles, this is a device that lets your front and rear wheels to turn at different speeds on a dry road. It also locks the four wheels together on slick roads to improve traction.
  • Central Locking System. A system that lets you lock or unlock all your doors at once.

If you know a little bit of car lingo before you start car shopping, you’ll have a better experience. Here are some more helpful terms on this infographic from Design 911.

car terms


 Image by Barney Moss via flickr, licensed under CC by 2.0