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Simplified Car Terms

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:11 pm    Post subject: Simplified Car Terms Reply with quote

Found this list of summarized terms of car engine at

Here I quote it out for quick reference:


For the benefit of non technical persons, here are some simple explanations of the terms used in the automobile industry. Hope it will help you to understand better in cars.

Engine - this is the power drive train in the car, it uses petrol, diesel, electric or natural gas(latest) for its source of power.
* 2 stroke engine - Basically it takes two strokes (linear movements of the piston) to complete the combustion cycle (intake, compression, power, exhaust). Mainly use in small engines as in motorcycles and outboard motors.
* 4 stroke engine - Basically it takes four strokes (linear movements of the piston) to complete the combustion cycle (intake, compression, power, exhaust). Most cars are using 4 stroke engines for the fact that it is more fuel efficient and better emissions than 2 stroke engines.

Engine Layout - This is how the engine cylinders are being designed. Most common are the straight(or in line) and Vee(V). There are also Flat, Rotary and exceptional W.

* Straight(in line) - simply put it, an in-line 6 would means 6 cylinders put in a straight line
* Vee(V) - a V6 would means the 6 cylinders are put in a V-shape with 3 cyl on each side.
* Flat - In flat engine, the cylinders are arranged in two banks on either side of a single crankshaft so that the motion of all the pistons is in a single plane or horizontal opposed.
* Rotary In normal engine(straight, V, Flat), the cylinder blocks are fixed while crank shaft is rotating. Whereas in rotary engine, the cylinder block are rotating around the fixed crank shaft. For cars, pistonless rotary engines are used. It uses rotor instead of pistons for its combustion. This design promises smooth high-rpm power from a compact, lightweight engine; however these engines are criticized for poor fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions.
* W This is the latest designed layout. Basically it is a combo of 2 x V engines, placed in shaped of a "W". So far it is being used in the world's fastest car.
CC (Cubic Centimetres - cm3) - this is the volume of the total engine cylinders. Also known as engine capacity.

Cylinders This is where the combustion(burning of fuel) takes place which the piston, fuel and air are present together.

Bore & Stroke Bore is basically the diameter of the combustion chamber (cylinder) and stroke is the length where the piston moves from bottom to top of cylinder. Bore and stroke are used to calculate volume of the cylinder.

Valves These are inlet valves and exhaust(outlet) valves. Inlet valves are for fresh air, exhaust valves are for the exhaust gas (hot air with mixed burned fuel). When people say 4 cyl 16v, it simple means the engine has 4 cylinders with 8 inlet and 8 exhuast (2 inlet and 2 outlet per cylinder) valves.

Overhead Cams (OHC) - This design configuration places a camshaft within a cylinder head (top of cylinder) and control the valves directly.
SOHC (single overhead cam) - This design has 1 camshaft placed within the cylinder head.
DOHC (double overhead cam or twincam) - This design has 2 camshafts placed within the cylinder head. Usually used seperately for inlet and exhaust and for multi valves cylinders.

Power Measurement of energy that is produced by the engine.

Torque Measure of power which is being transformed into rotational forces(engine power which is being transferred to the wheels).

Drive Train Usually referred to as 2 wheel drive(front wheel drive, rear wheel drive) or all wheel drive.

Front wheel drive engine is driving the front wheels, rear wheels are free running.
Rear wheel drive engine is driving the rear wheels, front wheels are free running.
All wheel drive(or 4 wheel drive) engine is driving all the front and rear wheels
Transmission Referred to as manual, manual sequential, automatic, auto tiptronic.

Turning Radius Distance(diameter/radius) where the car turns in a circle.

Suspension The suspension is the technology behind the comfort of ride.

Macpherson Strut Usually used in the front wheel. It provides steering pivot as well as suspension mounting for the front wheels.
Double wishbones It is an indepnedent suspension, most commonly used in sports cars, luxury cars and light trucks.
Multi-link This suspension has multiple arms linked to it for different purposes. Main advantage is that it can take varying degree of off-road conditions.
Torsion Beam Also known as torion bar. One end is fixed to chasis while the other end is connected to a lever perpendicular to the bar. The spring effect of the bar is the main suspension of the ride. It is durable but not so comfortable for bumpy rides.
Trailing Arm This suspension uses one or more arms (or "links") which are connected between (and perpendicular to) the axle and the chasis. Commonly used in rear wheel as it can allow flatter floor and more crago room.
Compression Ratio This is a measurement of air/fuel mixture being compressed before combustion takes place.

Fuel Capacity The fuel tank capacity

Fuel consumption Measuement of x amount of fuel(ltr/gallon) consumed by engine for x amount of distance travelled.

Car Type :
Sedan 4 Door with a back boot.
Hatchback 5 door without back boot
Estate 4 door sedan with additional roof top at the back boot.
Coupe 3 door car
Cabriolet open top car , also known as convertible.
MPV Multi Purpose Vehicle
SUV Sports Utility Vehicle

.: Safety, Handling and Performance - The Art Cycle of Car Modifications :.
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