Car Slang

If I were to say to you "the dizzy on my jalopy is failing, might need to take it to the carmatary" would you understand what I meant or would you look at me like I have two heads? The automotive world has so much slang, it's hard to keep track of what means what. Quite often if you find yourself in the middle of a conversation with a group of gearheads, you're going to start looking like your grandmother when you try to explain what email is. Lucky for you, we've come up with a bit of a glossary for you so you can navigate through all the slang that might be thrown your way. You can thank us later.


A dizzy is a distributor. Which kind of makes sense if you really think about it.


A jalopy is slang for an old, beat-up car. The origin of this word isn't exactly known, but some people believe it references Jalapa, Mexico, where many old cars in the U.S. were sent.


Where old cars that have died go to sit in a pile. Kind of like a cemetery...for cars...get it?


Usually refers to a used car that has many mechanical issues with it, noticed soon after purchase.


Refers to a vehicle with 4 cylinders which are generally smaller than the average car.


The passenger seat in a car. This originated back in the old west where a person would sit beside the driver of a wagon with a shotgun, watching for trouble.


20-inch auto rims. Because there is a 2 in it...


Refers to a starter solenoid. It gets this name because as the solenoid wears down,it starts to sound more and more like a bullfrog.


Get your mind out of the gutter. Jugs are cylinders. You sicko.


Driving off-road, usually in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Comes from the word Boondocks which refer to rural areas.


Making a right-hand turn.


Making a left-hand turn.


24-inch auto rims. Because "twankie" sounds like twenty and "fo" sounds like four? Odd one...


To leak oil. A play on the Exxon Valdez which leaked oil into the ocean.

Yewy...or Yoo-ee...or u-ie...You get the point

A U-Turn.


We could go on all day with car slang. Some of it will even change depending on which country you're in. For example, a trunk, hood, and gas in Canada are referred to as a boot, bonnet, and petrol in English countries. I've read forums where even car enthusiasts are confused about some slang that's used, so if you're ever caught in a situation where everyone is saying words you don't understand, stick to the basic maneuvers...nod and smile.