Car acronyms & abbreviations - What in God's name do they mean?

Author: Tony Lucas

Don't know your SOHC from your socks, or your PDI from your IAT? If you’re like most people, then you are not alone. This is a reference guide for all those car acronyms and abbreviations that you’ll find floating in and around the automotive industry. And we do mean floating, since they can be used anywhere from sales speak to specifications and brochures to warning lights!

Why do they even exist? It’s simple. Car acronyms are a great way to blind you with science, to confuse and belittle the outsider and make us dealers look really clever :) . However, a little knowledge can put the power back in your hands. Understanding automotive abbreviations, trouble codes and diagrams is an important step in comprehending the details of the parts and repairs required.

Have you ever wondered what a mechanic is talking about? Because sometimes all you are hearing is a string of abbreviated words with a sprinkling of acronyms in it! Where do you start deciphering?

These abbreviation terms are common in vehicle specifications, sales brochures as well as classified ads and are used to describe the various car technologies! But never assume the definition of any car term because every vehicle manufacturer has slight differences.

Of course, if you own a Honda Civic, then this need not concern you too much. As one of the world’s most reliable cars, you may never need to look up the words, breakdown, repair or trouble codes.

Take a look at our list of acronyms and see how many are new to you:

A4: 4-speed automatic transmission

A5: 5-speed automatic transmission

A6: 6-speed automatic transmission

ABS: Anti-lock braking system

AC: Alternating Current

A/C: Air conditioning

AdvHEV: Advanced hybrid

AMT: Automated manual transmission

Autogas: LPG when used as a vehicle fuel

AWD: All Wheel Drive

CCP: Coupled cam phasing

CH4: Methane

CNG: Compressed natural gas

CO2: Carbon dioxide

CVVL: Continuous variable valve lift

CVT: Continuously variable transmission

DC: Direct current

DCP: Dual cam phasing

DCT: Dual clutch transmission

DeAct: Cylinder deactivation

dHCCI: Diesel homogeneous charge compression ignition

DOHC: Dual overhead cam

DVVL: Discrete variable valve lift

DVVLd: Discrete variable valve lift, includes dual cam phasing

eACC: Improved electric accessories

EAT: Electronically assisted turbocharging

EFI: Electronic Fuel Injection

EGR: Exhaust gas recirculation

ehCVA: Electrohydraulic camless valve actuation

emCVA: Electromagnetic camless valve actuation

EHPS: Electrohydraulic power steering

EPS: Electric power steering

EMFAC: ARB emission factors modeling software (EMFAC2007 v.2.3 November 1, 2006)

EWP: Electric water pump

EWP: Elevating work platforms

FDC: Fixed displacement compressor

FWD: Front-wheel drive

FTP: Federal test procedure

g/mi: grams per mile

GHG: Greenhouse gas

GVW: Gross vehicle weight

GVWR: Gross vehicle weight rating

GWP: Global warming potential

HC: Hydrocarbons

HEV: Hybrid-electric vehicle

HFC: Hydrofluorocarbon

hp: Horsepower

HSDI: High-speed (diesel) direct injection

ICP: Intake cam phaser

IGN: Ignition

ImpAlt: Improved efficiency alternator

ISG: Integrated starter-generator system

ISG-SS: Integrated starter-generator system with start-stop operation

L4: In-line four-cylinder

LDT: Light-duty truck

LDT1: a light-duty truck with a loaded vehicle weight of up to 3750 pounds.

LDT2: an LEV II light-duty truck with a loaded vehicle weight of 3751 pounds to a gross vehicle weight of 8500 pounds

LED: Light Emitting Diode

LEV: Low-emission vehicle

LPG: Liquified petroleum gas

LVW: Loaded vehicle weight

MAC: Mobile air conditioning

MDPV: Medium-duty passenger vehicle

MDV: Medium-duty vehicle

mg/mi: Milligrams per mile

ModHEV: Moderate hybrid

NMOG: Non-methane organic gas

N2O: Nitrous oxide

NOx: Oxides of nitrogen

PB: Power brakes

PC: passenger car

RPM: Revolutions Per Minute

PS: Power steering

RPE: Retail price equivalent

SOHC: Single overhead camshaft

SULEV: Super ultra low emission vehicle

SUV: Sport utility vehicle

TBI: Throttle body injection

TRR: Tyre rolling resistance

Turbo: Turbocharging

ULEV: Ultra low emission vehicle

V6: Vee-formation six-cylinder

V8: V-formation eight-cylinder

VDC: Variable displacement compressor

ZEV: Zero-emission vehicle

4WD: Four-wheel-drive

42V ISG: 42-volt integrated starter-generator system



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