Understanding Service Lingo

Want to make sense of the auto lingo we use? All industries have a language of their own, a certain way of communicating that easily identifies the insiders or pros from the less experienced amateurs. Eavesdrop on two auto technicians, or two other industry specialists, and you might not understand most of what’s being said. Understanding the vocabulary or insider lingo can translate into a more efficient repair by the tech and a lower repair bill for you.

Here are some examples of automobile lingo you may or may not be familiar with:

Slip – The engine revs, but the vehicle doesn’t move.

Hesitation or delay – A time lapse between putting the vehicle in gear or stepping on the gas pedal, and getting a reaction.

Hot – Temperature after the engine is warmed up and running. Normal engine temperature is 100 degrees.

Cold – Temperature after the vehicle is turned off and has been sitting.

Acceleration – Stepping on the gas pedal.

Deceleration – Still moving, with foot off the gas pedal.

Brake pull – Vehicle pulls to one side when the brake is applied.

Steering pull – Vehicle pulls to one side as you attempt to drive in a straight line.

Chatter – A condition that feels like the vehicle is on a rumble strip.

Locking up – When a vehicle won’t move and it feels like it’s against a brick wall not in neutral.

Cranking – When the starter is turning but the engine won’t start.

Smoking – Excess smoke from the tailpipe or smoke that escapes from under the hood.

Out of round – When a tire’s condition is too far out of specification to be balanced properly.

Flash the computer – To reprogram or restart the computer.

Torque steer – Vehicle pulls in left or right direction upon acceleration.

Morning sickness – In cold weather when a vehicle looses power steering until the engine is warmed up.

Top off – When the technician adds enough fluid to return the level to full capacity.

Cold start – Cranking the vehicle after it has been sitting for more than five hours. This helps to diagnose certain kinds of problems.