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Motoring Jargon Explained

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Motoring Jargon Explained

Can you imagine a life without your trusty car? Most people nowadays simply can’t. Our cars, vans and lorries are cornerstones of modern civilisation. It’s curious, then, that many people don’t know simple terminology for things relating to their vehicle.

Some people, for instance, don’t know what ABS stands for or what their shock absorbers actually do. Therefore, this month we’re going to be tackling some of the most common motoring jargon terms that you may need help with.


The acronym ‘ABS’ stands for Anti-lock Braking System. These systems automatically ‘pump’ your brakes to stop the wheels from locking up as you brake in an emergency condition. If the wheels were to lock, you would quickly lose control of the vehicle. ABS helps to keep you safe by ensuring you always have steering control.

All-Season Tyres

To perform at their best, tyres require certain conditions. Generally, the warmer a tyre is the more grip it will offer. This is great for the summer, but not so much for the colder winter months. All-season tyres perform better at lower temperatures, offering the same level of grip throughout the year regardless of weather or temperature.

Winter tyres are also an option, but these must be changed back to regular tyres at the end of the winter months, which can be expensive.


The alternator is a key component of your vehicle as it converts the mechanical, kinetic energy your engine produces in abundance into electrical energy to store in your battery. This electricity powers everything from your lights to your heater, and is also crucial in starting your engine, too.


The chassis is the part of your vehicle that the driver and any passengers actually sit in. The chassis is attached to the engine and suspension.

Engine Braking

Engine braking is an economical form of braking that utilises the slowing forces of an engine to reduce a vehicle’s speed. The friction generated from the engine parts once acceleration is removed are exploited to slow the vehicle without using external braking mechanisms on your wheels.

Fog Lights

Your vehicle’s fog lights are essential for not only seeing in heavy mist and fog, but also for signalling your presence to other drivers and road users. The headlights are specially designed for cutting through fog.

Four-Wheel Drive

Four-wheel drive involves distributing the same amount of acceleration to all four wheels simultaneously. Equal power is sent to both rear and front axles, unlike in rear-wheel or front-wheel drive models where only one axle is powered.


Horsepower, often abbreviated to hp, describes the power your engine can produce. Generally, the higher the hp the higher your vehicle’s top speed will be.

Power Steering

Power steering uses some of your engine’s energy to reduce the necessary effort to turn the front wheels.

Shock Absorbers

A shock absorber converts motion into heat and thereby ensures your ride is smoother. Primarily, they dampen suspension oscillations.


Your vehicle’s suspension – its springs, wishbones, dampers and links – are what attaches your chassis to the wheels. The suspension gives your vehicle its handling and ride characteristics.

Some vehicles, such as 4×4’s, will isolate occupants of the vehicle from the worst road conditions (like potholes or rough terrain), while a sports car’s setup would make it most suitable for exploiting flatter road conditions.


Torque is a measure of the twisting force your engine can generate. Torque determines how well your vehicle can accelerate at differing speeds.


Understeer is the term used to describe when the front wheels do not follow the steering wheel angle. It occurs when the driver turns the steering wheel too sharply for the vehicle’s current speed.

Oversteer is similar, though it primarily affects the rear wheels during cornering and cause the vehicle to spin unless the driver reduces acceleration.

Munster Tyres and Servicing have been a leading provider of tyres and car servicing to the Fulham and North London areas for 40 years. Our team of experienced professionals are experts when it comes to caring for your car’s bodywork. For more information about booking your car in for a service or repairs, contact our friendly team today.


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