WEDNESDAY, MAR. 21: To a layperson, listening to an automotive technician talk about your vehicle is much like listening to a physician diagnosing a complicated disease and it can seem like a foreign language.

To give you a quick lesson in automotive language, I’ve compiled some common terms that will help you communicate in the service technician’s world.


The engine’s main function is to convert air and fuel into rotary motion so it can drive the wheels of the car. Parts of the engine include:


Pistons move up and down in the cylinders.

The combustion chamber where the fuel and air mix before ignited is on one side of the piston. On the other side is the crankcase which is full of oil.

Pistons have rings which serve to keep the oil out of the combustion chamber and the fuel and air out of the oil.


The crankshaft is connected to the pistons via a connecting rod.

As the piston moves up and down in the cylinder it rotates the crankshaft and converts the straight-line motion into rotary motion. The turning motion of the crankshaft is transmitted to the transmission and eventually to the driving wheels.


The valvetrain is a system of valves that lets the fuel charges in and the exhaust gases out.

The timing is controlled by the camshaft which is synchronized to the crankshaft by a chain or belt.

Spark plug

The spark plug supplies the spark that ignites the air/fuel mixture so that combustion can occur.

The spark must happen at just the right moment for things to work properly.

Exhaust system

Keeping your exhaust system in good working condition is vital for fuel mileage, the environment and your safety as it carries away the gases created when the fuel and air are burned in the combustion chamber.

Here are some parts of the exhaust system and their functions:

Exhaust manifold: The exhaust manifold attaches to the cylinder head and takes each cylinder’s exhaust and funnels it into one pipe.

Oxygen sensor: All modern fuel injected cars utilise an oxygen sensor to measure how much oxygen is present in the exhaust.

From this the computer can add or subtract fuel to obtain the correct mixture for maximum fuel economy.

Catalytic converter: This muffler like part converts harmful carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Muffler: The combustion process that makes your vehicle run is a series of explosions that creates a lot of noise. The muffler dissipates that energy and quiets the noise. 


Your vehicle’s brake system is a complex grouping of parts which serve a critical role in keeping you safe.

Here are a few terms you should know about your brakes:

Disc brakes: A type of brake that has two basic components — a flat rotor that turns with the wheel and a calliper that is stationary.

Almost all new cars have disc brakes on the front wheels with drum brakes on the rear.

Calliper: In a disc-braking system the car’s wheels are attached to metal discs, or rotors, that spin along with the wheels.

The job of the calliper is to slow the car’s wheels by creating friction with the rotors.

The brake calliper fits over the rotor like a clamp.

Brake pad: Inside each calliper is a pair of brake pads.

The brake pads have high-friction surfaces and serve to slow the rotor down or even bring it to a complete halt when you step on the brake.

When the rotor slows or stops, so does the wheel, because they’re attached to one another.

For more information on automotive maintenance, contact Krishna King at Bermuda Motors: 292-0893 or Website: