Use of English on The Open Road Web Site

Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language’.


That is particularly true when it comes to technical terms used for our cars, so the table below translates from the Queen's English used throughout this web site, into what is now called American English.


The Queen's English

American English

999 (emergency number) 911 (emergency number)
Accelerator Gas pedal
Aerial Antenna
Anti-roll bar Stabiliser or sway bar
Big end bearing Rod bearing
Bonnet (engine cover) Hood
Boot (luggage compartment) Trunk
Bulkhead Firewall
Bush Bushing
Cam follower or tappet Valve lifter or tappet
Car Automobile
Carburettor Carburetor
Catch Latch
Choke/venturi Barrel
Circlip Snap ring
Clearance Lash
Crownwheel Ring gear (of differential)
Damper Shock absorber
Disc (Brake) Rotor
Dipped beam Low beam
Distance piece Spacer
Drop arm Pitman arm
Drop head coupe Convertible
Dual carriageway Divided highway
Dynamo Generator (DC)
Earth (electrical) Ground
Engine mount Motor mount
Estate Car Station wagon
Exhaust manifold Header
Fault finding (diagnosis) Troubleshooting
Float chamber Float bowl
Free play Lash
Freewheel Coast
Gearbox Transmission
Gearchange Shift
Give Way (on road sign) Yield
Grub screw Setscrew, Allen screw
Gudgeon pin Piston pin or wrist pin
Halfshaft Axleshaft
Handbrake Parking brake
Hood Soft top
Hot spot Heat riser
Indicator Turn signal
Interior light Dome lamp
Layby Turnout
Layshaft (of gearbox) Countershaft
Leading shoe (of drum brake) Primary shoe
Level crossing Railroad crossing
Locks Latches
Main beam High beam
Manual gearbox Stick shift
Methylated spirit Denatured alcohol
Motorway Freeway, turnpike
Number Plate License plate
Paraffin Kerosene
Pavement Sidewalk
Petrol Gasoline (gas)
Petrol station Gas station
Petrol tank Gas tank
Pinking Pinging
Prise (force apart) Pry
Propellor shaft Driveshaft
Quarterlight Quarter window
Retread Recap
Reverse Back up
Rocker cover Valve cover
Roundabout Traffic circle
Saloon Sedan
Scamera See Speed Camera (colloquial term as the general public do not believe they are there for safety reasons but pureful for raising revenue)
Seized Frozen
Sidelight Parking light
Silencer Muffler
Sill (panel beneath doors) Rocker panel
Slip road (motorway exit) On ramp or Off ramp (Freeway)
Small end - little end Piston pin - wrist pin
Spanner Wrench
Speed Camera Radar operated speed trap either fixed or operated from white vans with black windows
Split pin Cotter pin
Steering arm Spindle arm
Sump Oil pan
Swarf Metal chips or debris
Tab washer Tang or lock
Tappet Valve lifter
Thrust bearing Throw out bearing
Top gear High
Torch Flashlight

Trackrod (of steering)

Tie rod
Trailing shoe (brake) Secondary shoe
Transmission Whole drive line
Tyre Tire
Van Panel wagon/ van
Vice Vise
Wheel nut Lug nut
White Van Man

Driver of company van (normally white) who pays little attention to speed limits or general courtesy

Windscreen Windshield
Wing (mudguard) Fender


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