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.



Take up:
To begin to transmit the drive when the clutch is engaged.

Tank bib (and tank chap):
A leather or vinyl covering over the petrol tank of a motorcycle to protect the finish from scratches.

The amount in which the front of a front wheel points inward or outward. A slight amount of toe-in is usually specified to keep the front wheels running parallel on the road by offsetting other forces that tend to spread the wheels apart. The opposite effect is to ‘toe-out’.

When adding enough fluid to return the levels to full capacity.

A force that produces a twisting or rotating motion to get the weight of the vehicle moving. A torque rating measures the engine’s power capability, where the amount of twisting or rotating effort expressed on the crankshaft is expressed in pounds or foot of force.

Torque steer:
The tendency of the front wheels on a front-wheel drive to pull to one-side under hard acceleration.

Torsional stiffness:
A vehicle body’s resistance to twisting motions.

Describes the distance between two wheels on the same axle.

Transmission (or gearbox):
A gear-changing assembly, which consists of a number of gears and other associated parts. It’s used to transfer the power from a vehicle’s engine to one or more driving axles.
Tuna boat:
A large car.

Rotary compressor or pump that pressurises engine intake air. The increased pressure forces more air into the cylinder than it could normally draw, allowing the engine to burn more fuel and in turn produce more power. Unlike the supercharger, which is mechanically driven by the engine’s crankshaft.

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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.