Avoiding bamboozlement is important to Mr Clutch Autocentres

Receptionist handing customer their car keys

We live in a world where initials often replace words and abbreviations are part and parcel of mobile communications, writes motoring journalist Iain Robertson, but equally jargon, or the use of technical words, can cause consumer confusion.

Knowing how to tell the difference between ‘cats’ and ‘callipers’ is important, should you be approached by anyone promising to save you loads of cash on your next car service. While verbal short-cuts are an important way of communicating inside the motoring business, the jargon that escapes into the public domain can often be mind-boggling.

However, Mr Clutch Autocentres is determined to maintain a higher degree of consumer knowledge by avoiding the confusion that arises from knowing your fan belt, from your cambelt. As a result, it has formulated a ‘jargon-buster’ and some of the following terms are explained more clearly:


This refers to the Anti-Lock Braking System, which takes control of your brakes, when it senses that your wheels may lock-up and cause skidding. The ABS applies and releases the brakes rapidly, to help provide steering control under heavy braking. (mrclutch.com/brake-pads-discs-replacement)


Short for air-conditioning, it is a cabin comfort system that may also be a climate control type. It is recommended that a certified specialist services, recharges and maintains your vehicle’s air-con. (mrclutch.com/air-conditioning-recharge)

Brake calliper

The brake calliper is the part of the brake that squeezes the brake disc, when you press down the foot pedal, slowing the rotation of the wheels.


The cambelt is a reinforced rubber belt that drives the moving parts inside the top of the engine. It can also be referred to as the timing belt and has specified replacement intervals, as it is important to have your cambelt replaced on schedule. If your car’s cambelt breaks, it can cause damage that might cost thousands of pounds to repair. (mrclutch.com/cambelts)

Catalytic converter

Catalytic converters, or ‘cats’, are fitted as part of the car’s exhaust and do a great job of reducing harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, or nitrogen oxide, by turning them into less harmful gases, or water vapour. (mrclutch.com/exhausts)


Operated by the left-hand foot-pedal, the clutch assists the driver in making concise gearchanges and being able to pull away smoothly. As the pedal is depressed, it disengages the clutch. Using it incorrectly can cause wear that demands clutch replacement.(mrclutch.com/clutches)


These are the metal pipes running from the side of the engine to the back of the car that help to get rid of waste gases. Modern car exhausts also help silence the engine and neutralise some of its emissions with a catalytic converter. (mrclutch.com/exhausts)

Fan belt

The fan belt uses the engine to drive the circular fan behind most older cars’ radiators. Fan belts tend to stretch and sometimes even snap and fall off, so they may need adjustment, or replacement periodically. (mrclutch.com/car-servicing)


A car that has both a petrol, or diesel, engine and an electric motor, in conjunction with a battery-pack is a hybrid. The electric motor is used whenever possible with the regular engine to provide additional power and greater fuel economy, when needed.


Horsepower (bhp) is a unit used to measure an engine’s power output. If power drops off, your car may need a service. (mrclutch.com/car-servicing)


An immobiliser is a piece of electronic theft prevention equipment that is wired into your car’s engine and ignition system. When the immobiliser is active, you cannot start the engine, even with the key. Normally reliable, they can go wrong. (contact us for more advice, mrclutch.com)


A styling feature on many cars, it is often found as a raised lip on the bootlid. Otherwise, it is an aerodynamic device with the purpose of ‘spoiling’ unwanted air movement across the body of a vehicle in motion, thereby reducing turbulence, or drag, and enhancing fuel economy.


Torque is a measure of twisting force developed by an engine, usually expressed in pound feet (lbs ft) or newton metres (Nm), which effectively tells you how much pulling power an engine generates.


Also known as gearboxes, they can be manual, or automated, or automatic. They contain the gears that help to build and modulate on-road progress. Manual transmissions contain a clutch that wears with use. (mrclutch.com/gearboxes)


When the patterns cut into the rubber on car tyres wear down, they provide less grip, which is why there is a legal requirement to have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central 75% of the width of your car’s tyres. (mrclutch.com/tyres)


Also known as a turbo, it uses recirculated exhaust gases from the vehicle’s engine to generate extra power and improve efficiency. (mrclutch.com/turbos)

At Mr Clutch Autocentres, we believe that clarity is the key and, if you ever need something to be explained to you, just ask any of our friendly technicians, or click on any of the links above to reach the company’s helpful website.