Automotive Dictionary

We know mechanics can speak their own language. That’s why we’ve tried to de-mystify some of the more unusual terminology to ensure you’re in control of your vehicle.


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Backfire:
Passage of unburned fuel mixture into the exhaust system where it is ignited and causes an explosion prematurely causing a gun-shot like sound that comes from the engine or tailpipe.

Backflushing:
Used when cleaning the engine’s cooling system it’s the process of pushing fluid in a direction opposite of normal flow.

Bagger:
A motorcycle fitted with saddlebags.

Baffle:
Plates fitted between cylinders of air-cooled engines to assist cooling.

Banana:
A colloquial term for the opening between the top of the steering-wheel rim and the hub through which the driver can see the instrument panel.

Banger racing:
A competition of speed on small racing tracks where older cars are driven and ‘encouraged’ to bump into each other.

Beamer (or Beemer):
A BMW.

Beater:
An unattractive, undependable, old car.

Beltline:
A horizontal line, usually imaginary but sometimes indicated by a feature in the body design, just below the window openings on a car or truck body.

Bore:
The diameter of a bearing or engine cylinder.

Bottoming:
Excessive noise or harshness that’s often felt through the steering wheel or passenger compartment when going over bumps.

Brake fade:
This can be brought on by repeated brake applications. This can result in a build-up of heat causing a temporary reduction of braking effectiveness.

Brake pull:
Occurs when the vehicle pulls suddenly to the left or right as the brake pedal is depressed. It indicates the brakes may be out of adjustment.

Breezer:
A convertible car.

Bucket:
A vehicle in poor condition.

Bucking:
This is felt when the engine hesitates or the transmission slips as it changes gears and the vehicle lurches.

Bushing:
A simple suspension bearing that accommodates limited rotary motion. The compliance of the bushing in different directions impacts on drivability and handling.

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Who is Elvio?

Elvio is a seasoned Motor Mechanic with 25 years experience in the automotive industry. Well-known for asking the most obvious questions and his bizarre obsession with Datsuns (having owned more than 10), he seems to think the 70s was the golden era of motoring. Current rumours suggest he owns more than 100 caps, prefers Belgium bier to Australian and has been confused with the real Speedy Gonzalez. Well-known at the racetrack for getting maximum performance on a budget and his obsessive attention to detail, he is now taking his passion for all things with an engine to help his customers in his blog. Ask Elvio.