Car Jargon Buster: A to Z of Car Acronyms

26th Apr 2021

By Paige Hodgkinson

Car Terminology Jargon Buster

Unless you work in the automotive industry or have a particular interest in cars, buying one can be super confusing with all the acronyms surrounding the features and technical specification of the vehicle.

In order to assist with what can soon become a complicated process, we have compiled a table that contains frequently used car abbreviations, in alphabetical order, and clearly defines what they stand for.


2WD: 2-wheel drive

Power is supplied to two wheels of the car

4WD: 4-wheel drive

Power is supplied to all four wheels of the car

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ABS: Anti-lock braking system

A safety system that prevents the wheels from locking up and helps them maintain grip on the road when the brake is applied sharply

AC: Air Conditioning

Either a manual or automatic system that cools the air inside a car

AEB: Autonomous emergency braking

A system that detects an imminent collision, using sensors, and automatically applies the brakes

AFV: Alternatively fuelled vehicle

Vehicles that don't run on fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel

API: Asset protection insurance

An extra level of protection for if your vehicle is stolen or written off and declared a total loss by the insurer

APR: Annual percentage rate

The amount you pay, as a percentage, each year to borrow money

AT: Automatic transmission

A gearbox that can shift up and down automatically

AUX: Auxiliary point

An input jack within the car's interior, which allows a phone or audio device to be connected by a wire to the car's audio system

AWD: All-wheel drive

Power is supplied to all four wheels of the car

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Unit of measurement for tyre pressure

BCH: Business contract Hire

A method for companies to lease a car, van or truck for a set period of time with fixed monthly costs

BEV: Battery electric vehicle

A vehicle that is primarily powered by at least one electric motor

BHP: Brake horsepower

The measurement used when referring to the total power output of a car's engine

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CO2: Carbon dioxide

One of the main gases produced by cars and is emitted from the exhaust

CVT: Continuously variable transmission

A type of automatic transmission that has just one automatically varying gear ratio

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DAB: Digital audio broadcasting

A modern, digital radio that provides access to more channels compared to analogue AM or FM

DPF: Diesel Particulate Filter

An after-treatment device that removes harmful particulate matter from diesel exhaust gas

DRL: Daytime running lights

Lights on the front of the car that are permanently on whilst the engine is running

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ECU: Engine control unit

The ECU is a computer system that is considered to be the 'brain' of a vehicle's engine

EGR: Exhaust gas recirculation

An after-treatment device that controls Nitrogen Oxide emissions

EML: Engine management light

A dashboard warning light that warns the driver of any problems with the engine and/or exhaust

Euro NCAP: European new car assessment programme

A test to determine the level of safety a vehicle provides

EV: Electric vehicle

A vehicle that is primarily powered by at least one electric motor

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FSH: Full service history

If a used car has a full service history you can expect it to be well looked after

FWD: Front-wheel drive

Power is supplied to the front wheels of the car

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GMFV: Guaranteed minimum future value

This is the figure you can pay at the end of a PCP contract to buy the car

GPS: Global positioning system

A satellite-based radio navigation system, used in sat nav systems to help drivers reach their destination

GT: Grand Tourer

A car, often luxurious, designed for comfortable and enjoyable long journeys

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HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle

A vehicle powered by a combination of an electric motor and either a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine, they are self-charging so don't need plugging-in to recharge the battery

HP: Hire purchase

A method of purchasing a vehicle outright with the cost spread out over a period of time

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ICE: Internal combustion engine

An engine that powers a vehicle through combustion, which is a basic chemical process of burning fuel and air to produce energy


Anchor points making it easy to secure child seats safely

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kW: Kilowatt

Power output from an electric motor, used instead of bhp

kWh: Kilowatt-hour

Capacity of an electric vehicle's battery

kWCh: Kilowatt Charger

Amount of charging power and electric vehicle can accept

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lb ft: Pound foot

The measurement used when talking about a car's torque

LCV: Light commercial vehicle

Vans and trucks with a weight of under 3,500kg

LED: Light emitting diode

A lighting technology commonly found on vehicles, replacing halogen bulbs due to an improved lifespan and offering enhanced visibility

LGV: Large goods vehicle

Vehicles with a weight over 3,500kg

LWB: Long wheelbase

A vehicle, often luxury, with an extended wheelbase

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MHEV: Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle

A vehicle that is primarily powered by an internal combustion engine but has a battery driven electric motor to assist with powering the vehicle, reducing fuel consumption and lowering CO2 emissions

MOT: Ministry of Transport

A test to ensure vehicles meet legal road safety and environmental standards

Mpg: Miles per gallon

A measurement of fuel efficiency that denotes the amount of miles that a vehicle can travel per gallon of fuel

Mph: Miles per hour

Unit of speed that denotes how many miles are travelled in one hour

MPV: Multi purpose vehicle

A practical vehicle that can typically seat six or more passengers

MY: Model year

The year a model was produced (21MY)

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NA: Naturally aspirated

An engine that isn't turbocharged or supercharged

NOx: Nitrogen oxide

A harmful gas emitted from exhausts

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OEM: Original equipment manufacturer

OEM parts for a car that are developed by the car manufacturer rather than aftermarket

OTR: On the road

On the road price is the total price of a new or used car with all additional fees included

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PCH: Personal contract hire

Also known as personal leasing, PCH is a way of financing a vehicle when you have no intention of owning the vehicle once the contract ends

PCP: Personal contract purchase

A method of financing a new or used car, paying an initial deposit, followed by fixed monthly payments and the GMFV at the end of the contract if you would like to buy the car

PHEV: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

A vehicle that is powered by a combination of an electric motor and either a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine, they can be plugged-in to recharge their battery

PPF/GPF: Petrol/gasoline particulate filter

An after-treatment device that removes harmful particulate matter from petrol/gasoline exhaust gasses

PS: Pferdestarke

The German term for horsepower

PSI: Pounds per square inch

A tyre pressure measurement

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RPM: Revolutions per minute

A measurement of the amount of times the engine's crankshaft makes one full rotation every minute and how many times each piston goes up and down in its cylinder

RWD: Rear-wheel drive

Power is supplied to the rear wheels of the car

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SCR: Selective catalytic reduction

An advanced active emissions control technology system that converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen, water and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide through a chemical reaction to prevent harmful tailpipe emissions

SMART repair: Small, medium area repair technology

Repairing a small area of a vehicle without needing to replace a whole panel

SORN: Statutory off-road notification

If you own a vehicle but don't drive it on a public road you can SORN it so you don't need to pay road tax

SUV: Sports utility vehicle

A vehicle characterised by a raised driving position and a spacious interior

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TPMS: Tyre pressure monitoring system

A system that monitors the pressures of the tyres and alerts the driver when the pressures are too low

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ULEZ: Ultra-low emissions zone

London has a ULEZ zone, which charges people to enter the area if their vehicle doesn't meet a certain emissions criteria

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VAT: Value added tax

Tax you have to pay when you buy goods or services

VED: Vehicle excise duty

Also known as 'road tax', the amount you pay is based on the amount of CO2 emissions your vehicle produces

VIN: Vehicle identification number

The identifying code, which is unique for each vehicle

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WLTP: Worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure

A test, which applies to all new vehicles registered since September 2018, to check how vehicles perform in everyday driving conditions

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Find your perfect new or used car

Now you're no longer baffled by all these confusing acronyms you're ready to start the search for your new or used car.

We have plenty of choice on used cars from popular manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Dacia, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, MINI, Volkswagen and many more.