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A Supa Quick Guide to Vehicle Terminology

  • Tips/Guides-Tips/Guides

A quick A-Z of the more common vehicle terms and acronyms to help you become a more informed consumer.


Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

In emergency braking, wheels can lock and skidding tyres can cause a car to lose control. ABS automatically prevents locking and improves steering control.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

An automatic intelligent cruise control management system that monitors traffic in your vicinity while you’re driving. It’s main purpose is to avoid collisions and alter your car’s speed to adapt to road traffic. 

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

A braking system that recognises an imminent crash and applies brakes in order to avoid a collision.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

AWD provides extra grip on road surfaces and is suitable for large vehicles such as trucks and buses driving on four, six, eight, or more wheels.

Adaptive headlights

These safety headlights improve illumination and visibility of the road ahead and adapts to the direction of the car when cornering or driving over hills.

Aerodynamic drag

A moving vehicle exerts a force through the air and the air that is displaced offers resistance and friction or ‘drag’ against the car. 

This is an audio connection feature, where an ‘auxiliary’ socket connects your mobile devices to the car’s speakers.



This wireless technology allows a driver ‘hands-free’ operation. For devices, typically your cellphone, to connect to Bluetooth, requires compatibility between the two in order to communicate.

Brake Assist

In an emergency stop situation if a driver fails to apply enough force, an electronically-controlled safety system ensures correct pressure to the brake pedal is applied.


Catalytic Converter

A canister fitted into a car’s exhaust system to help reduce harmful gas emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons.


The backbone of a vehicle supporting its major components and systems such as the steering, suspension, engine, wheels, gearbox, and radiator.

Compression ratio (CR)

Fuel economy is improved with higher engine compression ratios.The higher the compression ratio, the more compressed the air in the cylinder is, resulting in a more powerful explosion from the air-fuel mixture and better fuel efficiency.


Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

This safety feature detects a loss of control to the car’s steering, and combats under- or over-steering by applying brakes to specific wheels to gain stability.


Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

A vehicle with 4WD means it is powered by four wheels of which there are three types: Permanent four-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive, and super-select four-wheel drive


Global Positioning System (GPS)

A car’s navigation system uses this space-based radio-positioning system that uses satellites to transmit signals to equipment on the ground, providing information on positioning, velocity, and time.



Describes the responsiveness and accuracy of a car’s steering specifically around corners.

Horsepower (HP)

A unit of measurement that describes the power of a car’s engine. It is calculated using its torque (twisting force) multiplied by its spinning speed. Higher horsepower means faster speed ability.


A secure method of child seat safety using international standard attachments and are an alternative to securing child car seats by means of a seatbelt. Anchor points are pre-fitted into vehicles and compliant child seats are locked into these anchor points.

kiloPascal (kPa)

A pressure measurement unit used in tyre inflation. There are 1,000 pascals in 1 kilopascal. 100 kPa = 1 bar.



Its unit of measure is Newton metres (Nm) and indicates an engine’s turning power or how quickly a car will accelerate when stepping on the pedal.

Traction Control

This safety system is an active feature in a vehicle that minimises wheel spin on low-friction surfaces, and optimises grip and stability.

Tyre Speed Symbol

The purpose is to ensure the safety of your tyres and can be found on its outer wall indicated by a single letter at the end. It refers to the maximum speed the tyre can be safely driven.


Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV)

No exhaust gas from this type of vehicle’s on-board source of power is emitted.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Supa Quick.

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