Kunes Auto Group-logo
man and spouse thinking inside of a car while a salesman peaks through passenger window with clipboard in hand

Decode the Car Lingo: Common Vehicle Abbreviations Explained for Beginners

Published on Apr 18, 2023 by Talia Mushinsky

You know how it feels when you're looking at a vehicle's spec sheet or talking to a friend about cars, and you get bombarded with a whole bunch of abbreviations that make you feel like you're deciphering some secret code? Well, you're not alone! That's why today, we're going to break down some common car abbreviations and what they mean so you can feel like a pro.


  • ABS - Anti-lock Braking System: This nifty safety feature makes sure your wheels don't lock up during hard braking, helping you steer better.
  • AWD - All-Wheel Drive: A drivetrain system that shares the love by sending power to all four wheels of the vehicle.
  • CVT - Continuously Variable Transmission: A type of automatic transmission that uses a belt or chain-driven system to provide a never-ending number of gear ratios. Smooth, right?
  • DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft: This engine design has two camshafts per cylinder bank, which can help improve engine performance and efficiency.
  • ECU - Engine Control Unit: The brain of your engine that manages and controls various engine functions, like fuel injection and ignition timing.
  • ESC - Electronic Stability Control: A helpful safety feature that keeps your vehicle stable and in control during cornering or slippery conditions by adjusting brakes or engine power.
  • EV - Electric Vehicle: A vehicle powered by an electric motor instead of an old-school internal combustion engine.
  • FWD - Front-Wheel Drive: A drivetrain system that sends power to the front wheels of the vehicle. Great for fuel efficiency!
  • HID - High-Intensity Discharge: A type of headlight that uses gas discharge to produce a super-bright, focused beam of light.
  • HVAC - Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning: The system that controls the inside temperature of your car, keeping you comfy no matter the weather.
  • MPG - Miles Per Gallon: Tells you how many miles your vehicle can travel per gallon of fuel consumed. The higher, the better!
  • OBD - On-Board Diagnostics: Your car's built-in doctor that helps monitor and troubleshoot various components.
  • RWD - Rear-Wheel Drive: A drivetrain system that sends power to the rear wheels of the vehicle, often preferred by car enthusiasts for a sporty feel.
  • SRS - Supplemental Restraint System: A safety system with airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners that give you extra protection during a collision.
  • TCS - Traction Control System: A safety feature that stops wheel spin and loss of traction by applying brakes or cutting engine power.
  • TPMS - Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Keeps an eye on your tire pressure and warns you if it's too low or too high.


And there you have it! With this list, you're well on your way to becoming a car abbreviation master. Remember, there are tons of other acronyms specific to certain vehicle features, brands, or models, so if you come across one you're not familiar with, don't be afraid to ask!


Stay curious, and happy driving!

Like this feature? See all vehicles with

Like this feature? See all vehicles with

Like this feature? See all vehicles with