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A Beginner’s Guide to Auto Repair “Shop Talk”

A Beginner’s Guide to Auto Repair “Shop Talk”

When your car is having a problem, the way you discuss the problem can pave the way to a better auto body shop experience. It’s kind of like talking with a doctor. The more terminology you know and understand, the more quickly a solution can be found. Otherwise, it is going to seem like whatever the auto body technician is saying is a foreign language. So, we’re going to help you decode some of the common auto repair shop jargon that you might hear. We’re also going to discuss some ways you can describe the issues you’re having so the mechanic can pinpoint the issue much more quickly.


The Terms Mechanics Say

There are a number of terms that accurately describe what is happening with a vehicle. Unfortunately, unless you love cars or are mechanically inclined yourself, you might not know the terms an educated mechanic would know. That’s usually fine, but understanding what the following terms mean will help you out during your next body shop visit:

  • Engine Knock: Ever hear a pinging or ticking noise coming from the engine? That’s called engine knock, and it means that there is air and leftover fuel getting trapped in the combustion chamber whenever the spark plug fires. If you are hearing engine knock, you need to take your vehicle to the auto body shop as soon as you can.
  • Fast Idle: This refers to the faster, higher-revving of a vehicle. Though this generally happens during the first thing in the morning or after a car has been sitting for a long period, the fast idle should decrease as the vehicle warms up.
  • Fuel Injection: Not only the name of a service, fuel injectors are what replaced carburetors in modern vehicles. These instruments are designed to mix fuel more efficiently into the manifold of the engine. Sometimes, your fuel injectors need to be cleaned.
  • Hesitation: You might notice how your vehicle struggles to respond or loses power during acceleration, a condition mechanics call “hesitation.” When a vehicle hesitates, it often means that there is an issue with the fuel injection system.
  • Non-Aspirated (N/A): In the automotive world, N/A doesn’t mean “not available.” Instead, it means that you have a non-aspirated engine or one that is neither supercharged or turbo.
  • Play: Describes the amount of tension (or lack thereof) in the steering wheel you feel before the vehicle begins to turn. Too much play reduces responsiveness. Play is mentioned when discussing things like steering, suspension, and when components start getting worn.
  • Pull: When you start to brake or even while driving on a straight road, your car might start to drift in one direction. This is called pulling and happens when your vehicle is in need of an alignment.
  • Torque Steer: Many cars today are made with front-wheel drive (FWD). A torque steer is what happens when you begin to accelerate and the steering wheel rotates in one direction. If you accelerate too quickly with FWD, you could lose control if the torque steering is too strong.


Body Shop Talk

When you are in the auto repair shop, reviewing the estimate on collision repair, or you are talking to the insurance company about an accident, you might come across some common body shop parts or terms:

  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM): When you receive OEM parts, it means you are getting parts made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. For example, if your Ford needs a new bumper or grill, the OEM parts would come directly from Ford or authorized dealers rather than another brand.
  • Aftermarket Parts: These are not the same as OEM parts. Aftermarket parts are sold from other companies that are not the original manufacturer. Most aftermarket parts are designed to meet the same standards of quality as OEM. That said, some non-approved aftermarket parts could jeopardize the factory warranty on your vehicle. If you are unsure, speak to the insurance company or body shop for more information.
  • Beltline: The beltline is also called the “waistline.” The beltline is used to describe the top of the car from the bottom and is visually seen as the line right where the window frames meet the metal/paint.
  • Betterment: Insurance companies more commonly use this term to describe the situation in which new car parts improve the overall condition of the vehicle. In some instances, the insurance company might ask you to pay for a portion of the costs because the value of your vehicle has increased.


Precise Statements for Faster Solutions

When you are describing symptoms that your car is experiencing, it is best to be as descriptive as possible, even when you don’t know the technical terms for things. You can utilize some of the terms we have discussed to make issues all the more clear. Here are some examples:

  • When I drive over a bump, I hear rattling under the front passenger side of the vehicle.
  • When I apply the brakes, there is a grinding sound and the car pulls to the left.
  • The vehicle sometimes stalls while at traffic lights. When I restart the engine, I smell gasoline and see black smoke.
  • When I drive uphill, the vehicle hesitates and slows down.


Find a Collision Repair Shop That Speaks Your Language

Whenever you take your car to the body shop for maintenance or repairs, you are going to hear some confusing terms. Hopefully, with this list of words in mind, you’ll be more prepared and confident about discussing the issues. You should also seek out an auto body repair shop near you that speaks your language. Elmer’s Auto Body is one of the best in the region. We are transparent and honest, and we’ll always describe the problems and solutions so you know exactly what we’re going to do. Give us a call or send us an email today to schedule your next visit.

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