skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

10 Automotive Terms You're Saying Wrong

Like Abraham Lincoln once said: “Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it's right.” For every useful bit of information your Google machine will pull up for you, there’s an equal amount of nonsense.

Here are the top 10 automotive terms you're saying wrong, which means you ought to stop doing, saying and thinking any of these if you know what’s best for you.

1. “Sweet ride, bruh, but needs more of those offsets.”

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 01

Wheel offset. It isn’t something you can hold in the palm of your hand. Nope, your wheels’ offset is nothing more than a numerical distance that's determined by its hub-mounting surface in relation to its width. You also can’t log onto the internet and order it for your Evo.

2. “I’ve had a B18C with a YS1 in my EF8 since Y2K.”

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 02

Except you probably haven’t. In fact, you’ve probably never even seen an EF8 Honda Civic this side of your monitor since no North American-bound Honda Civic’s VIN plate’s ever included the EF designation. What you’ve got yourself there, sonny, is a bonafide ED7, which doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

3. “But first let me swap mah dizzy on mah bubble.

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 03

The cuteness has really got to end here. It’s a distributor. Not a dizzy. And your hatchback isn’t a bubble. When you're finished doing that, go ahead and forget every other piece of cutesy slang the internet's taught you that you’ll be embarrassed about when man buns and skin-tight jeans go out of style.

4. “Love me some body roll. Gonna bolt on some sway bars post haste.

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 05

Okay. We’re splitting hairs on a semantic level here, but those aren’t sway bars underneath your Subaru. Those specially shaped rods of steel were designed to keep your WRX from unloading too much of its weight in the wrong places when cornering, which is why the “anti” in anti-sway bars just became really important.

5. "...ft-lbs of torque."

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 06

Trying to tell somebody how much torque your engine makes? Try lb-ft. It doesn’t always roll off the tongue as easy as it is saying your Nissan makes 350 ft-lbs of torque, but that doesn’t make it any less right. Looking to measure something that has nothing at all to do with your engine or how fast your 240SX’ll go? Go with ft-lbs.

6. Thinking adjusting your valves is a valve job.

You adjust your valves. Your machinist with his fancy and expensive and sometimes computer-controlled equipment does your valve job. As it turns out, they aren’t the same, and one’s about as routine as changing your trans fluid, while the others about as complex as putting that trans back together. 

7. Wanting a slammed/soft-ride (basically a unicorn).

You want your Accord as low as possible. You also want it to ride like an Accord. This is all well and good except that ride height, shock travel and your suspension comfort are all counterintuitive to one another. Set your car up properly for the race track, and say goodbye to the grandmother-friendly ride you and your sensitive bum have been after. Sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

8. "That Scion is pretty old school."

Nope, it's not. In fact, anything you’ve ever done that’s involved documenting it using a digital camera, associating it with an online username or that’s got anything to do with OBDII won’t be considered a throwback for another 10 years or so.

9. Saying "spoiler" and "wing" interchangeably.

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 09

More hair-splitting here, but it turns out there’s a difference between the two. A rear spoiler attaches to a car’s rear trunk lid or hatch without any space between the two. If there’s a gap, then you’ve got yourself a wing. You already know that a wing generates downforce; a spoiler does the same thing by upsetting whatever fast-moving air is blowing past the roofline, slowing it down, and increasing its pressure.

10. "My car's track-prepped."

drivingline 10 auto terms youre saying wrong 10

You either track your car or you don't, and if you do track your car, you probably don’t need to advertise to anybody that it is indeed track-prepped. To clarify, saying your car’s track-prepped is really just a nice way of saying you like buying race car parts that never get used.


We don't mean to be critical... we just want what's best for you, but you should really be doing these 10 simple repairs yourself.

Return to beginning of article

Recommended For You

Loading ...