Un­der The Hood

Be sedan savvy! Here’s your cheat sheet for car jar­gon

Women's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Torque, diff lock, ABS... Car jar­gon sounds like a dif­fer­ent lan­guage to some. Ex­pert, Juliet McGuire trans­lates some of the most com­monly used mo­tor­ing terms and gives us a peek at the new BMW i8 Road­ster


An an­tilock brak­ing sys­tem pre­vents the wheels from lock­ing when you brake. Ba­si­cally, if you slam on brakes, espe­cially in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, the ABS will main­tain trac­tive con­tact with the road sur­face and will help to avoid un­con­trolled skid­ding. Like cruise con­trol, this sys­tem keeps your car at a con­stant speed but also mon­i­tors the traf­fic ahead and re­duces or in­creases the car’s speed based on the flow of traf­fic. It’s a form of au­tonomous driv­ing and can make those long road trips far more re­lax­ing. Also re­ferred to as 4WD or four-wheel drive, all­wheel-drive pow­ers all four wheels un­like a front-wheel drive (FWD) car, which only sends power to the front wheels. AWD drive means bet­ter trac­tion and there­fore safety and so it is of­ten the pre­ferred op­tion. This me­chan­i­cal de­vice al­lows the wheels of a car to turn at dif­fer­ent speeds. A diff-lock is de­signed to over­come this and locks two wheels, which is use­ful on un­even ter­rain. You will find a diff-lock on most hard-core 4X4 ve­hi­cles – not on your av­er­age AWD SUVs. Full ser­vice his­tory – this is some­thing you def­i­nitely want to see when buy­ing a sec­ond-hand car. It should show a full log of reg­u­lar ser­vices and main­te­nance stamps from ac­cred­ited ser­vice cen­tres. Do not com­pro­mise on this, it is one of the guar­an­tees you have that the car has been well looked af­ter. A hy­brid car uses two dif­fer­ent types of en­gines (a petrol en­gine and an elec­tric en­gine) to pro­pel it­self. These cars usu­ally have very low CO2 emis­sions and are eco-friendly, leav­ing be­hind a smaller car­bon foot­print. Read about the new BMW i8 Road­ster (right). This is the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard at­tach­ment for child safety seats in a car. It elim­i­nates the need to use seat belts to se­cure the seat. Ba­si­cally, it’s the far more con­ve­nient way to at­tach a baby seat. Noise, vi­bra­tion, harsh­ness. This is the search for and mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the noise and vi­bra­tion char­ac­ter­is­tics of a car. No one wants to have to shout over the rat­tles of the car and the rush of the wind while driv­ing and chat­ting, so man­u­fac­tur­ers go to great lengths to cor­rect any prob­lems. This is what can hap­pen if you go into a cor­ner too sharply and too quickly: the rear wheels lose grip so the back of the car starts to skid while the front re­mains in con­tact with the road. Don’t speed and you shouldn’t have a prob­lem. Easy. This oc­curs when you brake too hard when turn­ing into a cor­ner at a high speed. The front wheels lose ad­he­sion be­fore the rear wheels do and so the car tends to push in a straight line rather than fol­low the arc of a cor­ner. With both un­der­steer­ing and over­steer­ing, the best pre­cau­tion is to drive slowly and care­fully. If you don’t speed into cor­ners, you won’t fall vic­tim to ei­ther of these terms. Sim­ply put, torque is the en­gine’s ro­ta­tional force – it refers to the amount of work an en­gine can ex­ert. Think of it as the “oomph” or the “pulling power” of the car. So if power is an in­di­ca­tor of how fast a car can go, torque is about how hard it can push you to­wards that top speed. The heav­ier a car is, the more torque you will want in or­der to get it mov­ing. Also known as ESP or DSC, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol ap­plies brakes to a spe­cific wheel when a loss of steer­ing is de­tected. This helps with un­der­steer­ing or over­steer­ing and is there­fore a safety fea­ture. It pretty much helps us out when we lose con­trol of the car.

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