Glossary of Words Used in the Auto Business

Term & Lingo



American word for the License Plate that goes in the front and back of the car. In some states you only need it in the back of the car.

Dealer Fee

A fixed Price charged by the dealer for processing paperwork. Of course this is  in addition to the cost of the car itself , where most of their profit is hidden

Tax Tag Title

It is the fees mostly paid to the government to cover the sales tax, to get a new tag and also to pay the title transfer fee


Sport Utility Vehicle


American Term for a Vehicle’s Engine


Short for Transmission - or the Gearbox


It means the present owner, still owes some money to a bank, financial institution or such third party, that he borrowed to purchase the car. Some times title loan companies lend money and keep the title. After the debts are paid the lender then issues a lien release statement. Some times when registering the car with the DMV/Tax Office in another state, and if the title mentions “Lien “ on it , they might request that the lender directly fax the release statement to them.  Before you purchase your car, make sure all debts are paid of by the seller and there is no liens. Please see the topic under ‘”Buying” for more information.

Fluid Flush

The process of taking out old 'worn' out fluid from your car and replacing it with new fluids. Examples of fluid include - Coolant, Transmission Fluid, Brake Fluid.


Short for “Do It Yourself”


OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM Part stands for the part “originally” put at the factory and thus meeting all factory standards. Parts sold by authorized car dealers are usually OEM Parts


When used in “Stock Part…” usually refers to the part installed at the factory and is an OEM Part. The opposite of a “Stock Part” is a “modified part” or “mod”


Car parts offered for sale, which is non OEM and by 3rd party vendors either cheaper or expensive. The expensive after market parts may improve the performance of the vehicle

Wally or Wally World

Short for Walmart - A Big Retailer

Discount Part Stores. (DPS)

Stores like Advance Auto Parts, Autozone, O'Reilly and NAPA that sell car parts.


Auction usually refers to dealer only 'auctions'. This is the place dealers and lot owners get new inventory of cars and dispose cars that are not selling. Cars here sell for several thousands of dollars below they are offered for public at the retail lot or showrooms.

Public Auction

A special car auction where general Public are allowed. Payment here is usually Cash and the cars must be removed with in a required time frame.


It regularly means paper cash.  But in the American automotive sales business, it usually means , secured funds – like Paper Money, A check –personal or certified check, auto loan check,a draft or similar financial instrument. This term is very important when you are going to buy a car from the dealer. Even when you walk in with your own finance (your savings, bank loan,auto loan etc) , you need to tell them that you are paying by ‘cash’.


To try to persuade a customer to buy a more expensive part or to buy a related additional product or service usually at a discount.

Part & Labor

Cost of the Part and the cost of Labor to put the new part in.

Tire Kicker

Some Car buyers as seen by some auto dealer or lot owner. This is because they don’t do their homework before they want to purchase a car and end up wasting time for these folks.


Usually the Service Manager at a repair shop or dealer, who uses psychic and strong arm techniques to upsell and get you to do repairs on your car , that you don’t really need.

Stealer & Stealership

A spin on the word Dealer, Dealership .A term used by people who have had dealers who ripped them off. Like in : "The stealership wanted to charge me $800 to replace the pump that was supposed to be on warranty"

Title, Tag, Registration

It is the fees mostly paid to the government to cover the sales tax, to get a new tag and also to pay the title transfer fee and the registration.

Sticker Price

The Price usually put on the window of a Car.  Some people are not smart enough to bargain this price down. These prices are usually 10-30% up the fair retail prices of that car.

Dealer Invoice &

Below Invoice

Dealer Invoice is the amount that the dealer claims they ‘paid’ for the car. Below Invoice is suggesting that the dealer will sell  you the car “below” what he paid for. These are usually manipulative advertising terms used to lure in unsuspecting buyers in to the dealership and to make them feel they are getting a good deal.

Wholesale Prices

No you cant find cars at ‘Wholesale Prices” … “ok I will take 100 of those  BMW 3-Series can you give me a wholesale discount” . These are usually advertising terms used to lure in unsuspecting buyers in to the dealership and to make them feel they are getting a good deal.

Liquidation Sale

And cars are not liquidated. What you may get is $50 off the MSRP of 25000.  Like before these are usually advertising terms used to lure in unsuspecting buyers in to the dealership and to make them feel they are getting a good deal.

Salvage Title

A Title that has been re-issued due to accident, theft or damage or abandonment. See the Article.


Cars Emission Test Certificate. These tests are usually done by private mechanics for around $30-50. Some DMVS need to see a test report , with in 90 days to register a car.


Another word for a Car Title

Lot or Car Lot

It could mean an independent car dealer or the space in front of their building, where they keep the cars on display.

Work Order (Sheet)

The sheet that describes all the repairs that will be done on your car. Repair shops , by law have to get your signature on this sheet before they start work. So make sure to read the fine print , before you sign on it.

Extended Warranty

It is basically buying a 3rd party warranty for your car. Coverage and the fine print is the important thing here. Carefully research the Warranty Provider and find out exactly what all is covered before you sink in money into it. Also be aware of online and postal scammers posing as an extended warranty provider.

Torque or Torqued

  The Torque specification a bolt or nut should be tightened to.

Torque Wrench

A Special Wrench that clicks or lets a beep sound , when the set torque is reached while tightening a nut or bolt


The apparatus used to cool the coolant of your car. It is usually located on the front of the car , behind the grille.


Firewall is the part of the bodywork that separates the engine from the driver and passengers.

QT or Quart

 About 1/4  US Gallon or just under a liter. This is the standard unit measure for retail pack for Engine Oil, Coolant and other Fluids

Core,Core Charge

When you buy certain car parts like brake rotors, starters, alternators, brake calipers, distributors and even engines they have a "core" - in reality all of these parts are made of many valuable components and even though some aspect has failed, this doesn't mean the whole part is junk. The core charge is basically like a bottle deposit, but in this case, its a car part deposit that encourages you to recycle! So when you swap the new part for the old, you return the core and it goes back to the part manufacturer for rebuilding and recycling.


As used in “There is a bit of play in the peddle”. It as the maximum distance through which one part of something can be moved without moving a connected part

Burn In

Burn-in is the process by which components are exercised prior to being placed in service. The intention is to detect those particular components that would fail as a result of the initial, high-failure rate portion. For Example :- Brake Pads

RELAY , Relay Box

A relay is an electrically operated switch to control several other electrical devices like , Starter Motor , AC , Head Lights etc. Most cars have a box in the hood area that hoses these RELAYS and is called the RELAY Box

Fuse, Fuse BOX

A fuse is a protective conductor, that breaks contact when excessive current is drawn on the device it is meant to protect. Most cars have a box in the hood area that houses these FUSES and is called the FUSES Box


The act of turning the engine by the starter motor, usually, the thing that happened when you put the key in the ignition and turn the key to start the car.

JUMP Start / Jumping

The process of providing more power to a weak or dead battery by connecting the batter from another car or using a dedicated starting device.


In this website , dealer usually means the Authorized Dealer of a particular brand of cars


Engine Control Unit. Basically a Microprocessor based embedded control module, that controls several aspects of the car including timing, idle speed , emission parameters and other such. Actuators. It gets it input from a reading values from a multitude of sensors. Some cars have multiple control modules.


Defines at what point in the engine cycle the spark plug should fire for each cylinder. Modern systems allow for individual trim on each cylinder for per-cylinder optimization of the ignition timing.

 Penetrating Oil

It is an oil used to free rusted mechanical parts (such as nuts and bolts) so that they can be removed, because it can penetrate into the narrow space between the threads of two parts. It can also be used as a general-purpose lubricant, a cleaner, or a corrosion stopper.


In this website , Shop usually refers to a repair shop or the dealer' service centre

ODO or Odometer Reading

The scrolling number sequence on the bottom of your dashboard. It's usually below your speedometer (how fast you are going). It shows how many miles your vehicle has travelled throughout the entirety of it's life. There is also an option to measure trip mileage which is reset on most cars by pushing the pin that extends from your gauge display. Don’t expect BRAND new cars to have 000 Miles reading. They usually have a 5-100 miles on them.


The list of vehicles at a dealer.

 Fleet Vehicle

These are vehicles operated by car rental companies, private companies for private use, or even when they are purchased as a batch by a dealer , they are referred to as FLEET vehicle in the vehicle history report

 Pay-Off Amount

The remaining amount of a loan, including any prepayment penalty. Example: On the date of sale, the seller’s lender was telephoned and asked to state the payoff. The lender was wired the exact amount at closing so that the lien could be released and the title allowed to be transferred.


In detailing, the car goes through an exhaustive cleaning procedure. This relates to cleaning, washing, polishing, and waxing the automobile thoroughly from the inside to the out. In this job; detailing is done on the finish of the vehicle.


It is basically a protection against the severe depreciation of your car, in the event of a loss. When ever you purchase (finance) or lease a car, they will try to shove this insurance down your through and can add up significantly to the monthly payments. So make sure if you really need this insurance , before you sign up

Vehicle History

A vehicle history report contains important information about a used vehicle’s past. These reports generally show title records from each state DMV, along with salvage and insurance total loss records and accident records. This information is vital for you when choosing which used vehicle to purchase, as it can indicate issues with the vehicle’s safety and value. Additional information in a vehicle history report are ownership changes and vehicle details decoded from VIN such as year, make, model, and odometer history.


A Vehicle History Report Provider


A Vehicle History Report Provider


Kelly Blue Book – A provider of used car values

Late Model

 Model Year for cars with in the last 2 to 3 Years


Short for Vehicle Identification Number


Any BRAND New or Used  vehicle with numerous, severe issues can be termed a "lemon". This can be due to an accident or a manufacturing defect or a poorly done repair. For example: A hidden mechanical flaws or defects in workmanship, caused by design flaws or by an error during the automotive factory build process.

Certified Pre-Owned or CPO

A used car usually certified by the dealer using manufacturer’s certification inspection checklists. These cars usually come with additional warranty


A car with a fixed roof and usually with two doors. It may or may not have a backseat.


A car with a fixed roof and usually with 4 doors. It may or may not have a backseat.


A car having a sloping back with a hinged rear door that opens upward. Example a Honda Civic Hatchback