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.



Capable vehicles automatically lock the front hubs, shifting from two-wheel to four-wheel drive.

Shift shock:
A hard thump that can be heard and felt when the automatic transmission gears upshift or downshift.

A side-to-side action that can be felt through the tyres and/ or steering wheel.

Refers to the protective plate(s) under a vehicle that protect vulnerable components such as the transmission, oil pan and fuel tank.

The engine revs but the vehicle doesn’t move.

How a car feels when it’s not accelerating smoothly or strongly enough.

When there is excessive smoke coming from the tail pipe or smoke escaping from under the bonnet.

Supercharger (or blower):
Used to compress air into the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. It works like a turbocharger except it’s not powered by the exhaust gases but by belt or chain-drive from the engine’s crankshaft.

A sudden, usually upward, change in the engines speed.

Synthetic oil:
An artificially made lubricant made from modified petroleum or other raw materials. Synthetic oil provides superior mechanical performance to standard oils made with crude oil as it’s better designed for extreme temperatures.

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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.