A to F



A-pillar: Automotive parlance for the first pillar supporting the roof surrounding the front windscreen
ABS: Is the acronym from the German Antiblockiersystem but most commonly known as Anti-lock Braking System. Self explanatory
Ackermann's steer

Aerodynamics(cars): The study of the dynamics of cars/vehicles moving through air at ground level.
Active Aerodynamics: Mechanisms on cars to trade aerodynamic drag against downforce.
Active Damping: An electro-mechanical system employing a host of sensors and mechanisms to alter damping forces in a damper according to road conditions or driving style.
Active suspension: See above but implies that springs are also active which means an air or hydraulic type suspension
Active Suspension Management:The electronics that control the active suspension system
Air Suspension: In search for the magic carpet ride. High pressure bags substitute steel springs and provides more isolation and ride height control
Alcantara: A synthetic lightweight suede leather-like material. Now very durable but useful where lightness is needed
All-wheel Drive: Adapted from off road machinery to suit road going cars. Pioneered by Audi and Quattro drive. Used today in high powered cars or those sold to extreme climate countries
Alloy wheels: Usually means Aluminium alloy but earlier also meant Magnesium Alloy hence Mag wheels. Lighter than steel equivalent. See forged wheels
Alloy Engine Block: Engine blocks were originally cast iron but with the need for lower vehicle weight and better heat transfer, all-alloy engine blocks are the current trend
Alternator: An small AC current generator connected to the flywheel of the engine to generate electricity to run the car in conjunction with the car's battery. The parasitic load it produces has now been intelligently varied according to load demand of the engine and has reduced fuel consumption
Aluminium: A costly lightweight metal element that is lighter for an equivalent sterngth compared to steel. Many exotics use this as well as a couple of manufacturers
Anode: The positive end of a battery or circuit
Anti Dazzle: Technology (usually common sense) to reduce the blinding headlights of on-coming vehicles especially Xenon-type lamps
Anti Dive Geometry: Mechanical arrangements of the front suspension links and bushings to resist the compression of the front springs when the brakes are applied hard
Anti Fogging: A chemically treated glass surface to increase wetting so small water condensation is coelesed into a thin transparent film rather than remain tiny lenses that disperse light and appear translucent
Anti Freeze: Chemicals usually a glycol added to water to lower freezing point so that the ice forming in engines do not crack pipes and radiators
Anti Roll Bar: A torsion bar connecting left and right wheels to make them less independent and induce under or oversteer to improve handling but has the effect of reducing body roll as if hard springs are used but more comfortable
ASF: Audi Space Frame, trade name for Audi's Aluminium space frame technology used in their A8, R8 and shares this tech with Lamborghini
Asymmetric Tread Pattern: Tread design that attempts to optimize the width of the tread of a tyre according to its load. Usually larger blocks found on outer heavily loaded tread


B-Pillar: Automotive parlance for the second pillar supporting the roof, usually in the middle between the two doors
Balancer shaft: An attempt to provide better harmonic balance to engines with configurations that are not naturally balanced. Measured rotating weights bolted to engines counter offending harmonics, largely replaced by clever active engine mountings/bushings
Balanced crank: Usually done for race prepped engines to reduce the strain on the rotating components and their bearings when spinning at up to 19,000 rpm where a couple of grams turn into kilogrammes at such high rpms
Balancer tube: A connection between intake manifoilds of the two banks of a V-type engine to even out pressure of cancel harmonics
Bi-Turbo: Term coined to describe an endine with two turbochargers
Brake Force Distribution: also called electronic brake force distribution where the ABS first attempts to divert pressure to the wheels that are not locked-up before intervening with its pulsating anti-lock strategy                                                                                                           Brake Disc: Or Disc Brake, an aeronautic technology adapted for automotive use to replace the drum brake. It has better coolong and more linear braking characteristics and has almost completely replaced drum brakes
Brake Horse Power (BHP): A non-metric measurement of an engine's power equivalent to 0.714kW
Brake Hoses: The flexible hose that connects the hard inflexible tubes mounted on the chassis to the moving brake caliper. Also see Steel Braided Hoses
Brake Lining Material: A composite of matrix binder, metallic or ceramic particles and friction material that also coats the disc surface
Brake Pads: The pad consists of a steel backing that fits into the locking mechanism of the calipers and a layer of about 10mm of friction brake lining
Brake pistons: Is a hydraulic actuated piston that transfers the hydraulic pressure from the master brake pump to cause the brake pad to bind with the disc. The usual is a single piston but to distribute the pressure more evenly over a larger pad there are four or six pot or piston calipers.
Brake Pressure:




C-pillar: Automotive parlance for the third pillar supporting the roof usually between the rear door and rear windscreen
Carbon Fibre: Strongest material in the automotive world. Available a a weave of mono filaments and is commonly found as wet carbon fibre like fibreglass in an epoxy resin matrix. The other is Dry carbon fibre which has a higher ratio of carbon fibre and is cured or cooked in a giant autoclave.
Carbon Ceramic Brakes: The search for higher temperature durability has led to ceramic brake rotors. They are far lighter and have much higher friction coefficient and needs a total reworking of the servo system in order to avoid the horrible lurching stops the first gen systems were known for.

Carrera: Used exclusively by Porsche, its Spanish for Race
Catalytic Converter: The quick fix that stayed. In order to cut emissions quickly and effectively a collection of rare metal catalysts were embedded in a ceramic honeycomb structure to burn off the unburnt hydrocarbons and complete the conversion of CO to CO2 along with the NOx
Clutch: A mechanism to disengage and apply power from the engine to the gearbox and drive line. Consists of a pressure/friction plate and a flywheel-like disc
Coil-over kit: a complete compact coil around a damper with ability to adjust ride height and spring preload
Compression Ratio: The engine needs to compress the fuel mixture to the point of detonation and have it ignited at precisely the right moment to produce maximum power. Current state of the art in DFI engines allow 12.5:1 CRs
Competition pads: With reference to brake pads, these are higher temperature pads to keep working well into the 600-700 deg c range. Not particularly good for street use
Competition clutch: A clutch with heavier pressure/clamping springs and high temp friction material to handle the strain of racing
Cylinder Head: The part of the engine that is attached to the top of the cylinder block. It houses the valves that close off the flow through the exhaust and inlet tracts. The valves are actuated by a camshaft either directly or via rocker arms
Cylinder Pressure: The ability to compress the fuel mixture is paramount to the production power.
Cylinder Liner: The alloy or iron block is not suitable to act as a cylinder liner as it needs a hard wearing surface. Usually friction-fit steel liners are used but a development to embed crystalline silicon in the alloy and use selective etching to expose the hard wearing silicon.
Cylinder Bore: The measurement of the diameter of the cylinder bore is only half the story the other is stroke. the larger the diameter the bigger the valves that can be fitted. But shorter stroke results in lower torque




D-pillar: Sometimes there is another pillar after the C-pillar as in stationwagens
DCT: Double clutch transmission, see double clutch gearbox
Dead Reckoning: The way in which the Navigation System navigates in the absence of GPS signals by steering angle, odometer readings and snap to grid logic
Desmodromic Valves: A clever mechanism that allows a valve to accelerate and decelerate way beyond the capabilities of a standard valve-spring set up allowing the engine to spin way past 12,000 rpm
Direct Fuel Injection: The next advance in the internal combustion engine. Moving from port injection to Direct injection into the cylinder has allowed CRs to reach 12.5:1 and the ability of the latest injectors to inject so quickly it can even stratify the incoming charge during such a short duration
Dynamic Stability Control: An on-board computer taking data from various sensors and even a gyroscope to detect impending loss of control and implement changes to power, torque distribution and brake application to counter the under or oversteer and loss of car control
Downshift: The act of shifting from taller ratios to lower ratios
Downforce: Downforce is the invisable hand from aerodynamics to load the car body downwards and hence load the tyres to generate more grip but with no real increase in mass, the only true "free-ride" in the auto kingdom
Double Clutch Gearbox: First developed for racing by Porsche when Ferdinand Piech was in charge of its development. It remained smouldering until Audi developed it for its road going cars, again when Piech was at the helm
DSG. Direct Shift Gearbox by VW-Audi group, see Double Clutch Gearbox





Electronic Differential (E-Diff): An advanced development of limited slip differentials to be able to transfer 100% of torque to either wheel using a computational model based on sensors that detect not just slip but yaw and steering angles. Used in Formula One, this Ferrari tech finds its way into their fastest cars
Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI): This used to be a big thing when we switched from carburettors to fuel injection. Early fuel injection systems were just mechanical devices but under electronic control these injection devices became more efficient and now into the era of DFI
Energy Regeneration: Being able to capture some of the energy that would otherwise be lost as heat upon braking has become an obscession with the industry of late and the way to do it is by some sort of Hybrid technology although some merely increage generator loading during the braking phase of a car's journey and that has also yielded results
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
Exhaust Manifold: The collection of pipes that take the exhaust gasses out of the cylinder head. Its lengths, diameters and design have profound influence on the engine's power output
Extractor: See exhaust manifold


Final Drive: The last set of reduction gears that usually splits up torque between left and right wheels. A taller(smaller numbers) final drive improves cruising by lowering engine speeds and also fuel consumption but makes for poorer acceleration. Conversely a shorter or lower final drive (higher numerically) is the performance choice to increase acceleration but worse fuel consumption
Finite Element Analysis: Computer data and design analysis to come up with the most rigid structure in the given budget or ultimate performance possible
Fly-off brake: A throwback to the early days of the sports cars when the brake lever would be pulled up to engage and then the handle dropped down yet remained engaged
Forged Alloy Wheels: Alloy wheels are one application of forging but very costly and with limited designs because of the complexity of the casting dies needed to squeeze the hot alloy
Forging: Sometimes referred to squeeze-process. Metalurgists found that certain alloys benefit immensely when it is squeezed into shape just when it is solidifying producing higher strengths for a given thickness or weight.
Fuel Cell: The Holy Grail of energy conversion. In vitro studies can generate up to 60% effiency converting the energy stored as H2 into electricity compared to the best oil burning generators at 35%
Full Racing Harness: A five or six point seat belt system to literally fix the driver in his racing bucket seat. Difficult to use but a life saver
Frequency Selective Damping: Koni has developed a technique to only apply damping on low frequency(slow movements) and not much on higher frequency(rapid movements) movements to have both comfort and control in one. Others call it micro-valve technology
Four Wheel Drive: When torque is distributed to all the four wheels

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