Automotive Acronyms Explained

It seems that more and more people are starting to use acronyms for just about everything, even laughter has its own acronym, lol (laugh-out-loud).  The same is true in the automotive industry except it’s shortcuts to the long words or phrases used often.  Here is a short list of common acronyms you can expect to hear in an automotive shop and some of their definitions.

  • ABS (anti-lock braking system):  A safety anti-skid braking system.
  • ACC (adaptive cruise control):  Transforms cruise control into a system that can be programmed to maintain a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you and to provide protection if a crash seems imminent.
  • BA (brake assist):  A system that electronically boosts braking power.
  • CNG (compressed natural gas):  An alternative fuel designed to replace gasoline as a source of automotive power.
  • CV joint (constant velocity joint)
  • CVT (continuously variable transmission)
  • DCT (dual-clutch transmission): Transmissions that offer the driver the choice of shifting gears manually or letting the vehicle do it automatically.
  • EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution): A system that distributes brake power proportionately among the four wheels.
  • ECM (electronic control module): A generic term for an on-board computer that is responsible for controlling the operation of one or more electronic systems.
  • ECS (emissions control system):  Parts on a vehicle that reduce or remove harmful substances from the exhaust gases and recycle unburned fuel vapors before they get into the air.
  • ECU (engine control unit):  The most powerful computer onboard a modern vehicle.
  • ESC (electronic stability control): A system designed to help prevent a vehicle from skidding, spinning, or rolling over and to help return it to its intended path when it goes out of control.
  • EV (electric vehicle): An alternatively powered vehicle designed to use an electric motor as an environmental improvement over the internal combustion engine.
  • HID (high intensity discharge lamps):  Headlamps filled with halogen or xenon gas that are brighter and use less power.
  • ICE (internal combustion engine):  An engine that works on power released by vaporized fuel and air burning inside the engine itself, rather than on an outside source of combustion.
  • ICM (ignition control module)
  • IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • MIL (malfunction indicator lights)
  • mph (miles per hour)
  • NGV (natural gas vehicles): Vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.
  • NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • NOS (new old stock):  New parts made in the past for out-of-production vehicles that are used in their restoration.
  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer):  Parts supplied by the original manufacturer of a particular vehicle.
  • OHC (overhead cam):  A camshaft located above the cylinder head.
  • PCM (powertrain control module):  A computer that controls the operation of the fuel, ignition, and emissions control systems on newer vehicles.
  • PCV (positive crankcase ventilation): Part of the positive crankcase ventilation system.
  • psi (pounds per square inch)
  • PZEV (partial zero-emission vehicle): Vehicles with internal combustion engines that are so clean-running that they almost meet California’s zero-emission standards.
  • R&R (removal and replacement):  A common term used by service facilities for “removal and replacement” of parts in order to access the site of needed repairs.
  • RSC (rollover stability control):  A safety system that identifies situations in which a vehicle that’s taking a turn to sharply or to fast could roll over, and then helps to prevent the rollover.
  • TCS (traction control system):  A feature that senses when one wheel is spinning faster than the others and corrects it.
  • U-joints (universal joints)
  • VIN (vehicle identification number):  A unique number found on the left-hand corner where the dashboard meets the window as well as the registration and other paper work for each vehicle.
  • ZEV (zero-emission vehicle):  Vehicles that produce no emissions when running.

We hope this help clear up any confusions and if you need more of the 411, drop us a line and we will try to help you out.