Car Terms Slang - Words to Know for Auto Mechanics

A barrier for new mechanics can be car terms slang. Take a look at these automotive slang terms to know for aspiring auto mechanics. Learn car lingo slang!

Slush Box, Banger, Hoon, Wrench – what do all of these words have in common?

Well, you may not know any of their meanings… Even if you think you do!

When working in an auto shop, you will quickly identify new words and new meanings for common words. This can be confusing upon entry into a new work environment. So, we are here to put some of the most common and confusing car terms slang that aspiring auto mechanics should become familiar with. Learning this automotive slang will help while you are in auto mechanic school, an apprenticeship, or starting your first job as a mechanic.

Let’s dive in and learn some car lingo slang!

Automotive Slang for Aspiring Mechanics


Now you may be thinking, “I know what a wrench is!” Yes, you do know what a wrench is, but you may be unfamiliar with wrench as a verb. Auto mechanics often refer to wrenching as a general term for working on cars. So, if you say you know how to turn a wrench, you really mean you can work on cars.

Turbo Lag

This automotive slang term comes along with engines that have turbochargers or superchargers. These are equipped to increase performance often making a 6 cylinder engine perform like an 8 cylinder. The main difference is where Turbo Lag comes from, turbochargers often have a small delay before increasing power.


As you may know, internal combustion engines are made up of different amounts of cylinders. The most common modern engines have either 4, 6, or 8 cylinders. So, since these cylinders create small explosions (bangs), many mechanics and gear heads will refer to them as four, six, or eight-bangers.

Oil Burner

As a result of their less refined petroleum intake, diesel vehicles are often referred to as oil burners. This is not necessarily because they burn through oil quicker than gasoline cars. It refers more to the fact that diesel is much more oily than regular gasoline.


Stemming from the “Mad Max” muscle car crazy culture, hoon is one of the more odd slang car terms. You may hear this after you ask what happened to a car that underwent some serious damage. They may say, “Someone was hooning around in this one!” Basically it means to drive wrecklessly.

“That’ll Buff Right Out”

If you are not fluent in sarcasm, you better start brushing up on it! One very common sarcastic phrase used in an auto shop is “That’ll buff right out!” This is often said in reference to a car that needs some serious work. It is usually used to lighten the mood around a tough project coming into the shop.


To the general public, slammed would probably mean something along the lines of smashed or banged up. In the automotive world, this term refers to a vehicle that has been lowered. Whether it has been lowered for pure looks or performance, these low-riders are slammed!

Gas Can

A gas can is something you most definitely have heard driving around town, or even sitting in your home. Gas can refers to exhausts that are extremely and obnoxiously loud. These can make a Ford Taurus as loud as a a helicopter… maybe not a helicopter but extremely loud.


In some cases, Bondo is a savior and some the complete opposite. Although Bondo is a brand, it is commonly referred to as any putties or filler products for body projects. This slang term is extremely common in an auto body shop as it can be used to fill small holes but it must be used cautiously as it can look BAD!


A tuner is the opposite of one of the below automotive slang terms, ricer. Tuner refers to vehicles that have been optimized for max performance. In other words, these cars have been tuned to be the most efficient, highest performing versions of the car as possible. Perhaps you’ll take part in creating a tuner!


Something that is becoming more and more common by the day is the amount of technology used in vehicles. Therefore, OBD (on-board diagnostics) is a very frequent slang term in an auto shop. As the name suggests, this is the technology that assists auto mechanics in diagnosing a problem in a car.


Of course, pickup is another term for a truck. Even this common term has an industry specific automotive slang counterpart. The slang of pickup refers to how quickly a car can begin its acceleration. It is related to torque as they go hand in hand. Cars with good pickup can accelerate really quickly.


Torque is perhaps the most misunderstood of the car terms slang we are listing. Many get torque and horsepower confused, if you have started your automotive training you probably already know the difference. Horsepower is the output of the engine and torque is the rotational force from the crankshaft.


Ricer is a term that is often used to identify people but in the auto shop it is used mostly to identify a type of car. This type of car is something you have probably seen. Perhaps it is a Honda Civic or a Ford Focus (something compact) that has many obnoxious modifications that do not effect performance.


This is generally recognized as the half-way point of an automobile. The beltline is created by the bottom edge of the windows on a car.  This is an easy way to reference and measure things when diagnosing or doing minor repairs. Keep this in the back of your mind as an important automotive slang term.

Aftermarket vs. OEM

This car lingo slang combines acronyms and opposites. Aftermarket refers to parts of a car that have been made by companies other than the original manufacturer. On the other hand are parts made by the manufacturer, known as OEM which stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Slush Box

Some manual transmission fanatics use Slush Box in disgust while others use it purely as an identification term. Either way, this is one automotive slang term that always means the same thing. It refers to any automatic transmission’s gearbox. It got its name by feeling more fluid rather than solid, like a manual.

Knock or Detonation

When you hear Knock in the shop, there most likely won’t be anyone at your front door wanting to get in. Instead, knock or detonation is when there is extra air/fuel in the combustion chamber that detonates when a spark plug ignites. This will cause a knocking noise while driving.


In many cases, N/A means not available. Even though, this is not always true in an auto shop. In fact, when communicating mechanic to mechanic, N/A will almost always mean naturally aspirated. This refers to engines that do not have either a supercharger or a turbocharger to increase airflow in the engine.


As you know, acronyms are used everywhere, especially in the automotive industry. These are two important ones to know as they are some of the most common used in an auto shop. LOFR refers to Lube, Oil, Filter, and Rotation while TPMS refers to Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

Questions About Car Lingo Slang?

We hope we have done a good enough job to save some of you from confusion in the auto shop. Certainly there are more slang terms out there so keep an ear out for them. Maybe you have your own slang terms or know some useful terms we missed? Fill out our contact form below and let us know what we could add.

It is quite common to have more questions about these types of things. Fortunately, our sole purpose is to help you! If you have any questions about anything automotive, whether it be slang terms or how to become a mechanic, we are here. Of course, you can contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have on your pursuit to becoming an auto mechanic.

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