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Car Slang in American English

Car Slang in American English

There are moments when understanding car language is difficult. It nearly seems like a foreign language. Apart from the variations in national languages across all English-speaking countries, there is now a distinction between new and old car slang terms, since both millennials and boomers have their own automotive lexicon.

If you come to a rental shop to rent a car and start spouting words like “whip, beater, crate, heap, jalopy, sleeper, or POS” (synonyms for a “car”), then you can only be understood in the USA, and that’s not a fact – depends on the rental service employees. 

And if, for example, you want to drive a rented car while traveling, say, in the UAE and secure a long term car rental Dubai, then most likely they will not understand you at all. This is only possible if there is someone from the United States there or someone who knows American auto slang.

However, we are here to help you. At least you can fake a conversation without coming across as ignorant.

Increasing Your Knowledge of Automotive Terminology

A few universal expressions are understood by people of all ages. Here is a brief explanation of a few common terms:

  • Dizzy: short form for the internal combustion engine part known as a “distributor.” In order to ignite the gasoline, it supplies power to the spark plugs.
  • Jalopy: is an old car that is usually in rough condition. While a Sleeper is an automobile that looks like a POS but is actually incredibly fast. That is, appearances do not correspond with performance.
  • Grip: refers to the tires’ ability to perform their function. You have the necessary level of grip if you are in charge of the vehicle. If not, the automobile is probably roofed.
  • Turbo lag: is the moment of pause that occurs just before the turbocharger starts.
  • Bondo: is code for a cheap fix among gearheads. Polyester putty under the trade name Bondo is used to solve a wide range of issues. It’s similar to duct tape, but for vehicles.
  • Jugs: takes the place of a “cylinder.” A V12 has an incredible amount of jugs since it has 12 cylinders.

Old Car Slang

There are several terms that have endured and are still frequently used today. Here are a few more, little older, but equally pertinent examples:

  • Air dam: is only a spoiler designed to prevent air from passing beneath the vehicle.
  • Boon: is brief for boondocks, as in driving into the sticks with your 4×4 truck.
  • Camber: It is the wheel’s angle. Negative camber is present when an automobile is seen from the back and its wheels seem to be bent. 
  • Slushbox: is a word used to describe an automatic gearbox arrangement where the torque converter is fluidly coupled.
  • Four-banger: is essentially a four-cylinder engine that is used affectionately these days.
  • Rockford (J-Turn): is skillfully rotating the vehicle 180 degrees. After reversing quickly and spinning the wheel, you wait for the front end to slide around and point in the other direction before continuing.
  • To heel-and-toe: is both tenderly applying brakes and easing the power. This was the technique utilized by race drivers to synchronize the engine and gearbox speed just before turning a bend.

New Car Slang

These are a few phrases you may use to pass for someone at a contemporary auto meet. Some automotive phrases originate from the Old Testament, yet they live on with a modified or new meaning.

  • Whip: is a most often used slang word for a car. The enthusiast addressed the owner of the Ferrari SF90, saying, “That’s a mean whip you got there.”
  • Launch: people are fascinated with 0–60 mph times for some reason. The goal of a launch is to get the automobile off the line as soon as feasible.
  • Slammed: a lowered suspension allows a slammed automobile to be very near to the ground. In order to achieve a sleek, hunkered-down image, owners will go as low as feasible.
  • End can: this is a pejorative word for someone who just replaces the exhaust tip or the last silencer because they cannot afford to repair the full exhaust system.
  • That’ll buff right out: a little ding acquired during a race is described using these terms. It’s intended to minimize the extent of harm in order to uplift a motorist involved in an accident. 


After learning a few definitions and being somewhat more familiar with slang, you ought to be able to participate in practically any discussion involving auto enthusiasts, whether it’s with other gearheads or just your mechanic.

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