The Auto Vocabulary Quiz

By: Rick Falgione
Estimated Completion Time
8 min
The Auto Vocabulary Quiz
Image: Pixabay by Toby_Parsons

About This Quiz

The world of automobiles has a specific lingo and jargon all its own. If you're really into car craft, you know what we're talking about. If not, every word "car people" use that you don't know is like a multi-pronged fork in the road. And you have no idea which road to take or where each will lead. Car jargon is part engineering, part cool, part muscle, part tech, but loads of fun (if you can get over feeling a little dense, at first). 

For those of you who think you know the ins and outs of "car speak," this quiz will test how well developed your car linguist muscles are.

For those who feel a little obtuse when it comes to "car speak," why don't you try this quiz? You'll increase your auto IQ, and you'll also be able to speak intelligently to your mechanic the next time they start speaking in auto-babble. 

Unlike an automobile engine, this quiz is not timed. However, if you're feeling a little Bobby Unser or Dale Earnhardt in your veins, by all means, pull out your smartphone, toggle to your best timer app, and time yourselves to the split second.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen ...

Start your engines!

33 - VIN
MrDemarson via YouTube
What does the acronym VIN stand for?
Vehicle Internal Nomination
Vehicle Information Nomenclature
Vehicle Identification Number
A contracted slang form for "My cousin Vinnie's car"
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a 17 character string that gives information on a vehicle's country of manufacture, manufacturing company, factory in which produced, etc.

32 - beater car
luoman/E+/Getty Images
What's another word for a beater car?
All of the above.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A beater car (or truck) is a vehicle that has no redeeming value other than to get you from point A to point B. It is not pretty and probably needs lots of work (body and repairs). There are additional words to describe beater cars, but we can't use them here. Just sayin'.

26 - rumble seat
Rides Done Right via YouTube
Have you ever heard of a rumble seat? If you did, what the heck was it?
The position in a front bench seat between the driver and the outer passenger
A seat, now illegal, that was positioned in the bed of a pickup truck
A rear, outside seat on older vehicles where the trunk would be folded up when not in use.
A seat in older taxi models that folded up from the floor to provide more passenger seating in the rear.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A rumble seat was a seat located where the trunk is today. The reason for its name is pretty self-explanatory.


28 - gull wing door
Wiki Commons by Berthold Werner
Have you seen any of the "Back to the Future" movies? If you ha e, this question should be a cinch for you. What is a gull wing door?
A door in the relative shape of a gull's wing.
The rear doors of a Ford Thunderbird.
Doors that open along the vertical axis, rather than horizontally.
The front doors of a Pontiac Firebird.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Gull wing doors are doors that open upward along the vertical axis. When open, they look like gull's wings.

12 - Jolt and bounce
Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Image
Knowing what we've already learned about our favorite new word, jounce, what two words were combined to form the word, jounce?
Joule and ounce
Juke and flounce
Jolt and bounce
Jump and pounce
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Jolt and bounce equal jounce. Engineers are a funny lot. Not much at concocting words, eh? Some would argue, however, that the word existed long before it was used to refer to vehicles.

6 - serpentine belt
Creative life, looking for special pictures./E+/Getty Images
What is a serpentine belt?
The belt that turns many of a vehicle's pulleys
The molding that goes around the exterior of a car, truck, or SUV
A winding version of a seat belt
Another word for the timing belt
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The serpentine belt is a rubber belt that turns many pulleys such as the alternator pulley, power steering pump pulley, air conditioner compressor pulley, etc.


9 - inline cylinders
kool99/E+/Getty Images
When referring to a vehicle, what does inline mean?
When all the brakes touch their friction material to the metal drums or rotors at the same time
Where all an engine's cylinders are arranged in a line
Where an engine is mounted transversely to the front wheels
Where all the fuel lines run parallel to each other
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Inline refers to the arrangement of cylinders in a straight line, as opposed to an engine like a V6 or V8 where the cylinders are arranged in a V shape.

31 - bra
AMMO NYC via YouTube
Vehicles don't typically wear bras (but they can). But what the heck is a car (or truck) bra?
Another word for a suspension lift kit
A removable front-end cover to keep bugs and rocks from damaging the paint
The device used for covering the windshield from the inside to block the sun
A cover for the dashboard to block the sun's damaging UV rays
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A vehicle bra is an out of vogue accessory used to cover a car or truck's front end and grille to protect it from bugs, road debris and rocks.

22 - mechanic alignment
graphixel/E+/Getty Images
If your mechanic was discussing caster, camber and toe with you, they would be talking about ________.
The three types of engine mounts
The different valve timing adjustments
The alignment of your vehicle's front end
The three ways to adjust your headlights
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Caster, camber and toe are adjustments to a vehicle's front end. Toe is the difference in the distance between front tires, front to front and rear to rear. Camber is the tilt of a tire in relation to the ground. Caster is the angle of the steering mechanism of a vehicle offset from its vertical axis. Whew! All of these adjustments affect how your vehicle handles and how its tires wear.


1 - Suspension System
martin-dm/E+/Getty Images
When using the word jounce, with what specific area of a car would jounce be associated?
Engine mounts
Suspension system
Trunk hinge
Leather softener
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Jounce is associated with a vehicle's suspension system. Specifically, it refers to the motion that compresses a vehicle's spring, strut, or shock absorber. When you go over a speed bump, the first motion compresses the suspension components. That first motion is jounce.

13 - Rebound (spring)
ollo/E+/Getty Images
Again, referring to our new favorite word jounce, if jounce is the compression of a vehicle's spring, strut, or shock absorber, what is the opposite action of a spring called?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Rebound is the opposite action of a car's spring, strut, or shock absorber. It is the springing back to the normal

34 - gearbox
da-kuk/E+/Getty Images
A vehicle's gearbox refers to the _________.
Limited-slip differential
Transfer case
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Gearbox is accepted slang for the transmission. It's a box full gears. Yes, sometimes things really are that simple.


25 - hood
Zero Creatives/Cultura/Getty Images
Enough of pillars! Another name for the hood is _______.
The bonnet
The deck lid
The front flap
The upper lift
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Bonnet is another term used for a vehicle's hood. In simple clothing terms, a hood and bonnet are nearly the same thing. Hence their interchangeability when referring to the hood of a vehicle.

15 - torque converter
Wiki Commons by Michael Barera
Where in a vehicle would you find a torque converter?
Inside a manual transmission
As part of the exhaust system
Beside a heat exchanger in the cooling system
In front of an automatic transmission
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A torque converter would be found in front of an automatic transmission. It acts as a fluid coupler, transferring power from the engine to the transmission.

2 - piston
da-kuk/E+/Getty Images
We all know pistons are a major part of an engine, but what is a piston ring?
The ringing sound a piston makes inside an engine
The cylinder that a piston moves in
A round piece of metal that keeps oil out of the combustion chamber and gases in the combustion chamber.
A gear that moves to let air into the piston's combustion chamber.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Piston rings are circular pieces of metal fitted to pistons within very low tolerances (tolerance affects the engine's performance). Piston rings keep oil out of the combustion chamber, while keeping gas and air in the chamber.


5 - draincock
Clint Hightower via YouTube
With which system of a vehicle is a drain cock associated?
Cooling system
Suspension system
Air-conditioning system
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A drain cock is associated with a vehicle's cooling system. Usually located near the bottom of a radiator, the drain cock allows you to drain the coolant from the radiator.

14 - catalytic converter
Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Image
With what vehicle system is a catalytic converter associated?
The exhaust system
The air-conditioning system
The powertrain
The air filtration system
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The catalytic converter is associated with a vehicle's exhaust system. It uses a catalyst, usually platinum or palladium, to convert harmful components of a vehicle's exhaust into harmless compounds.

11 - trunk
Amir Mukhtar/Moment/Getty Images
Why is the rear storage area of a car called a trunk?
The storage area originally resembled an elephant's trunk.
The original word was truck but changed to trunk over the years.
It referred to the car's body, sometimes denoted as a trunk.
People fastened wooden trunks to the back of their cars.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Before vehicle storage became a consideration for car designers, people would fasten wooden trunks to the rear of their cars to carry their belongings on trips.


16 - freeze plug
Justin Miller via YouTube
What is a freeze plug, and what does it do?
A small metal disc that expands and contracts in a vehicle's air conditioning system to regulate freon pressure
A small round plug that acts as a safety "valve," popping out if the coolant in an engine freezes, preventing the engine block from cracking
A metal valve found on the underside of a vehicle's body to allow ice and snow to escape, preventing rust and corrosion
A small aluminum plug found in the radiator for emptying frozen coolant
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Freeze plugs — also known as core plugs — are small metal plugs that are found in an engine block's channels that carry coolant. If the coolant somehow freezes, because it is too diluted or only water has been used, freeze plugs are supposed to "pop" out of their channel to allow the excess pressure of expanding frozen water to escape. In theory, this will prevent an engine block from cracking due to that excess pressure.

21 - planetary gears
Wiki Commons by Elacy
In a planetary gear arrangement, planetary gears revolve around the sun gear. Where would you be most likely to find planetary gears?
Inside the engine
Inside the transmission
Inside the power window mechanism
At the center of the cooling system fan
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The automatic transmission owes much to the planetary gear system. It uses planetary gears to change gear ratios without having to shift different gears.

17 - rocker panels
ftwitty/E+/Getty Images
Where are rocker panels located?
Under the doors
On the upper engine
Below the front grille
Supporting structure behind the rear bumper fascia
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The rocker panels are located under doors. They span the distance between the front wheel well and the rear wheel well.


30 - crossover SUV
Edmunds via YouTube
In the wonderful world of SUVs, what kind of SUV is a crossover SUV?
An SUV manufactured in a different country than the one in which it is sold
An SUV designed and manufactured by two companies
A large SUV that rides like a compact car
Usually, it's a small SUV that uses a car platform, that features a car-like ride with an SUV high seating position and layout.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Crossover SUV refers to a typically small SUV that uses a car platform to give the vehicle its car-like ride and handling, while elevating the seating point of view and incorporating an SUV layout.

19 - unibody
ScottieDTV via YouTube
A vehicle is considered unibody if __________.
There is no separate frame from the body
The body is cast from a single sheet of steel or aluminum
The fenders are welded to the body, rather than attached with screws, nuts and bolts
The front and rear bumpers are made of rolled steel or aluminum
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A vehicle with a unibody construction has no separate frame from the body. The metal structures are formed in a way that when welded will provide the necessary structural rigidity to the body and support to the vehicle's mechanical components, like the engine, transmission, axle structures, etc.

20 - sway bar
milanmastracci via YouTube
With which vehicle system is a sway bar associated?
Theft deterrent system
Door locking system
Suspension system
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The sway bar, or anti-roll bar, connects the wheels from the left side to the right side to keep them rolling at the same speed when hitting bumps and potholes in the road.


3 - crankshaft
patrickheagney/E+/Getty Images
Cars and trucks are full of shafts. You may have even gotten the shaft from your dealer. So, in your car, truck, or SUV, what is its crankshaft?
One of the main metal shafts that connect the wheels to the power source, like a transmission or a transfer case, sometimes called an axle
The main metal shaft that connects the transmission to the rear axle to move the rear wheels
The main metal shaft that moves the intake and exhaust valves from open to closed, repeating this several times per second
The main metal shaft connected to the piston by a connecting rod that takes the piston motion and transforms it into a spinning motion to power a vehicle's motion.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The crankshaft runs the entire length of the engine, taking power input from the pistons and transforming it into a spinning motion. This is usually connected to a transmission and forms the motion that eventually is transmitted to the wheels to make a vehicle move.

4 - camshaft
da-kuk/E+/Getty Images
Camshaft is just another word for the crankshaft, right?
Nope, the camshaft is the main metal shaft that connects the transmission to the rear axle to move the rear wheels.
No way! The camshaft is one or more metal shaft(s) that moves the intake and exhaust valves from open to closed, repeating several times per second.
Yup! Just another word for the main metal shaft connected to the piston by a connecting rod that takes the piston motion and transforms it into a spinning motion to power a vehicle
One of the main metal shafts that connect the wheels to the power source, like a transmission or a transfer case, sometimes called an axle
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

An engine may have one or more camshafts. These move the intake and exhaust valves open and closed to properly aerate the combustion chamber and allow exhaust gases to escape.

8 - hog ring (seat)
Jesse Foulk via YouTube
In a vehicle, where would you most likely see a hog ring?
Inside the engine's combustion chamber
Between a metal spout and a hose that keeps liquid from spilling out
In a seat covering/upholstery
Inside the tire's tread
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A hog ring is a round fastener that attaches seat upholstery to the main seat structure.


23 - A pillars
Kemter/E+/Getty Images
Where are the 'A' pillars located?
Inside your front struts
Behind your front and rear bumpers
On either side of your steering column, under the hood
On either side of your windshield
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The "A" pillars are on either side of your vehicle's windshield. They hold it in place.

24 - C pillars
Marin Tomas/Moment/Getty Images
Well then, where are the 'C' pillars?
Between the rear of the front seat and the front of the rear seat
On either side of the vehicle's rear glass
There is no such thing as a "C" pillar, only "A" pillars and "B" pillars.
Inside the roof of the vehicle and run laterally for structural support
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The "C" pillars are on either side of your vehicle's rear glass and hold it in place.

7 - cladding
Laura Olivas/Moment/Getty Images
We've all heard of cladding, right? Where would you find cladding in a vehicle?
A vehicle's seat cushions
A vehicle's exterior decoration
It's a measure of the thickness of a vehicle's metal.
In a vehicle's tire tread
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Cladding is associated with the vehicle's exterior decoration, usually excessive rubber or plastic, like the kind that came on the iconic Pontiac Aztek. Cladding is all about the "look" of a vehicle.


29 - intercooler
CJ Pony Parts via YouTube
In which vehicle system would you find an intercooler?
The cooling system
The air conditioning system
The rear air-conditioning system of large SUVs
The turbocharging system
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

An intercooler would be found as part of the turbocharging system. It cools the air fed by the turbo, increasing the density of the air, and therefore the amount of air fed to the engine.

10 - live axle
mooosestang via YouTube
When someone refers to a live axle, what exactly do they mean?
They mean an axle that is driven by a power source, usually output from a transmission or a transfer case.
They're talking about an axle that is not being driven by a power source, such as output from a transmission or a transfer case.
What they're really referring to is the center shaft of a turning pulley.
They're pointing out the main shaft that runs through the center of a transmission.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A live axle is an axle that is being driven from a source of power, such as the output from a transmission or a transfer case. This is opposed to a dead axle, which is not being driven, but is free-wheeling.

18 - beltline
Alexander Spatari/Collection/Moment
On a car, what does the beltline refer to?
The white line on the serpentine belt that enables a mechanic to approximate engine RPM by counting how many times the beltline is viewed in one minute.
The serrations on the underside of a serpentine belt that allow it to grip driven pulleys better.
The imaginary line that extends through the bottom edge of the doors' window openings.
The line by which a seat belt cannot be extended any further.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The beltline of a car is an imaginary line that extends through the bottom edges of the doors' window openings at the midsection of the vehicle, somewhat like the beltline of a man or woman.


35 - one liter
annick vanderschelden photography/Moment/Getty Images
When talking engine displacement, liters is most often used. Cubic inch displacement was used in the past. How many cubic inches of displacement equals one liter?
53.03 cubic inches.
75.34 cubic inches.
57.92 cubic inches.
61.02 cubic inches.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

61.02 cubic inches equals one liter of displacement. But you won't need to know how that number is calculated to drive that cool vehicle of yours!

27 - front clip
Hemera Technologies/>> / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
To what does the term "front clip" refer?
The front end sheet metal of a vehicle
Any of a number of clips that hold plastic wheel wells in place
The connecting structure between the vehicle's body and front bumper
The type of clips that hold the front fascia to the vehicle
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The front clip usually refers to all of the sheet metal in the front of a vehicle, from the fenders forward (including the fenders).

You Got:
Pixabay by Toby_Parsons