A Brief Glossary of Auto Repair Terms

July 22nd, 2016

At Kirkwood Auto Center, we run across customers who get a little confused about the terminology they hear from technicians and service advisors. That's why Automotive Terms in Wilmington DE we thought it'd be a good idea to have explanations of a few common auto repair terms.

Air filter: the paper or cloth baffle that traps pollen, dust and other small particulates before they have a chance to enter the engine's fuel system. 

ABS: Antilock Braking System, a network of sensors, valves and pumps that monitor the speed of each wheel while braking. If one wheel seems to be on the verge of locking up, a processor meters the braking effort to that wheel to prevent a skid, offering better control on wet or slick pavement.

Antifreeze: Composed of glycol, anticorrosion agents and other additives, antifreeze is mixed at a 50/50 ratio with water to form coolant. Antifreeze raises water's boiling point and lowers the freezing point, protecting the engine against overheating or freezeups.

Alternator: Driven by the engine's crankshaft via a belt, the alternator is a small generator that replenishes power to the battery. 

Brake caliper: With disc brakes, the brake caliper is what encloses the brake rotors, which are the smooth steel discs the wheels are bolted to. The caliper holds the brake pads and a hydraulic cylinder, which presses them against the rotor to provide braking force. 

Catalytic converter: Situated in the exhaust pipe, the catalytic converter contains platinum fibers and other materials that use a chemical reaction to absorb and reduce exhaust emissions. 

Dipstick: The metal rod, marked with hash marks, which shows proper levels of motor oil, transmission fluid or power steering fluid. 

Drivetrain: The entire assembly of engine, transmission, axle(s) and differential which supplies power to the wheels. Not to be confused with "driveline," which refers only to the connection between the transmission and differential. 

Fuel injection: Electronically-metered method of delivering an atomized fuel/air mixture to the cylinders. More reliable and fuel-efficient than old-style mechanical carburetors. 

OEM: "Original Equipment Manufacturer," refers to original, factory equipment. Replacement parts should be OEM-quality. 

Radiator: the assembly of tubes and cooling fins at the front of the engine that helps disperse heat as coolant (driven by the water pump) flows through it. The cooling fan, enclosed by a shroud, helps draw more air through the radiator. 

Timing belt: an internal belt which connects the engine's driveshaft to the camshaft, to sync the opening and closing of valves in the combustion process. Some vehicles use a chain instead, which lasts the life cycle of the car. For vehicles with a timing belt, however, it's imperative to change the belt at the dealer's recommended interval...a broken timing belt can mean severe engine damage. 

We hope this helps clear up any questions you might have about any of these terms. If you're in need of auto repair or routine maintenance, contact us at Kirkwood Auto Center in Wilmington, DE! We're here to serve you! 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101