Auto Slang Quiz

AUTO

By: Robert Bacon

7 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay by gessinger

About This Quiz

The automotive industry is diverse, full of people from all walks of life and every possible style of car. Equally as diverse is the language used by gearheads. There are words to describe types of cars and wheels, ways of driving, and even groups of people who love certain models. For instance, if you hear the term "lead sled" is the first thing that pops into your mind Santa or a 1951 Mercury Eight? Do you think you have a good enough grasp of the automotive landscape to score well in this quiz? Your brain will need to be firing on all cylinders!

Something which can intimidate people is the thought of speaking to a mechanic and becoming lost because of the slang used. Are you the person your friends call to head down to the auto shop with them? If a mechanic tells you your engine will blow if you go over a "ton," what speed are they talking about? This quiz will reward people who have legitimately mastered the automotive dictionary, or fill in the gaps for those who have a few words left to learn. If you think you can talk the talk, test your auto slang knowledge now!

If someone has "keyed" your car, what have they done?

Keying someone's car is the act of using a key to scratch the vehicle's windows or paint. It is considered an act of vandalism and often committed out of anger or spite.

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What does it mean if a car is "slammed?"

A slammed car hasn't just been lowered, it's riding practically as low as it can go. The wheel arches appear to sit on the tires themselves. There's a huge community around this style, and some people spend a considerable amount of money to achieve the look.

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Lemons aren't just a sour fruit. In the automotive world, they refer to ...

Bad or unreliable cars are referred to as "lemons." There are several theories regarding where this term originates from. Its most likely origin is from British slang used in the 1900s when to "hand someone a lemon" meant to "pass off a sub-standard article as a good one."

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If you drive a "ricer," your car has most likely been imported from ...

The term "rice rocket" came into popularity during the '60s and '70s with the influx of Japanese motorcycles. "Rice" was used to describe them as it's a staple of the Japanese diet. So, as Japanese car imports became more prominent, the term to describe them became "ricers."

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"Turbo lag" is described as ...

Turbochargers work by channeling exhaust gases back into cylinders. But this requires exhaust pressure, which takes time to build up. So, if you put your foot down at low RPMs you may experience a lag before the exhaust pressure builds up enough to spool the turbocharger.

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What does it mean to "dump the clutch?"

When someone "dumps" the clutch, also referred to as "dropping the clutch," they engage the clutch as quickly as possible while keeping the car's revs high. This usually results in the car's tires breaking traction and burning some rubber. Be warned, if you want to keep your drivetrain healthy, this isn't recommended.

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Boats are usually found in water. But if your car is described as a "boat"...

Some big cars are extremely hard to maneuver due to their size and weight. Anyone who's been out on the water in a cruiser will know this is also true of boats, hence the nickname.

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Where are "spinners" located on a car?

Spinners are attached to the center of a vehicle's wheels. They move independently from the car's wheels, allowing them to keep spinning even after the vehicle has come to a complete stop. Spinners rose to popularity in the early-2000s, but have been fading out of popularity since the mid-2000s.

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What's a "4-banger?"

The cylinders in engines are often referred to as bangers. The name comes from the fact that, as the air/gas mixture explodes in a cylinder, it'll cause a bang. So, engines that have four cylinders are called 4-bangers.

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When you do donuts, you ...

Doing donuts involves losing rear traction and turning so the car continuously drifts in circles. The burnt rubber from the car's wheels will leave black circles on the asphalt which look like donuts, hence the name. It can be fun to watch a good driver do tidy donuts, but it's not so fun paying for new sets of rear tires every few weeks.

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If you come across a "sleeper" car, you should expect it to ...

Sleepers don't look like anything special. In fact, their exteriors look just as they did when they rolled out of the factory. But it's a different story entirely when it comes to what lies under their hoods: These are high-performance machines. If you ever come head to head with a sleeper on a track, prepare to be shocked.

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In auto slang, when someone says "vette," what are they referring to?

When an automotive manufacturer gets a nickname, you know they're popular. But, when an individual model gets a nickname, it's reached superstardom. This is the case with Chevrolet's Corvette. To those in the know, a Corvette is affectionately known as a "vette."

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What is the best season to drive a "breezer?"

A "breezer" refers to a convertible. It gets the name due to the breeze which runs through the car while its top is down. Of course, there's no better time of year to drive a convertible than during the summer.

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What does it mean if your car is a "4X?"

A 4X is a shortened way of describing a 4X4 system (as if it needed to get any shorter). These systems are usually found on trucks and SUVs, and provide superior grip when driving off-road.

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What does AWD stand for?

All-wheel drive cars are capable of sending power to all four wheels. These systems are especially useful when driving over rough terrain or in poor conditions as they provide more grip.

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Which of the following words do you say to claim the front passenger seat of a car?

Riding shotgun used to refer to the person who sat next to a stagecoach driver. This person carried a shotgun to ward off attacks on the stagecoach. As the use of automobiles became more popular, riding "shotgun" became known as riding in the front passenger seat.

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"Pinks" is slang for a car's title. But what state did this slang word originate in?

The slang word "pinks" refers to a car's title, which is otherwise known as a pink slip. It originated in California, which has historically had more cars than any other state and has nearly twice as many cars as Texas, which comes in second. In California, a car's title was originally printed on pink paper so the driver would notice it and not accidentally throw it away.

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"Heel-toe" driving is usually used in what form of motorsport?

The heel-toe driving technique is used by car drivers. As the driver slows down by applying pressure to the brake pedal with their toes, they simultaneously use the accelerator with their heel. This allows them to keep the revs high when slowing down and cornering.

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When people talk about a "10-second car," what does the time refer to?

A "10-second car" is a car that can get down a quarter-mile drag strip in between 10.00 - 10.99 seconds. Lovers of drag racing or the movie franchise "The Fast and the Furious" will know that 10 seconds is not an arbitrary time. Any vehicle that eats up a quarter-mile in 10 seconds or less is outrageously fast.

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Driving like a "hoon" means driving ...

"Hooning" or driving like a "hoon" basically means you're driving with needless recklessness. This style of driving has become something of an epidemic in Australia over the past few years, with the country even bringing in some "anti-hoon" legislation.

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If you drive a "Bimmer," what colors are your car's badges?

A "Bimmer" refers to a BMW car, which has two blue and two white segments that are surrounded by a black circle. This logo represents white propeller blades against a blue sky. There's nothing random about this, as BMW started out manufacturing aircraft engines.

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What type of fuel does your vehicle use if it's an "oil burner?"

Back in the day, diesel engines could be made to run on many different types of oils. This isn't true for modern diesel engines, but even today, you'll notice that diesel is a much oilier liquid than gasoline: hence the name "oil burner."

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Where would you find the "beltline" on a car?

The "beltline" refers to the vertical midpoint of a car. Normally, this is considered to be the bottom edge of most cars' windows. Sometimes mechanics will use a car's beltline as a reference point.

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Someone performs a "Scandinavian flick" when they want to ...

The Scandinavian flick is a technique by which drivers first turn a car in the opposite direction of the corner they're approaching. Then the driver turns the steering wheel to match the direction of the corner, initiating a drift. The technique was popularized by Scandinavian rally drivers in the '60s, hence its name.

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"Crosswalk creeping" refers to the act of ...

A crosswalk creep refers to a driver who inches their way deeper into the crosswalk even while the traffic lights are still red. For many crosswalk creeps, the reason for their actions comes down to impatience. But some crosswalk creeps hope to get the jump on the other motorists once the lights turn green.

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Where are the hinges located on suicide doors?

Suicide doors have their hinges at the rear, which causes them to open outward from the front. The name wasn't just for show, as they really could be dangerous. If they opened while a car was moving, the passenger could be thrown from the vehicle while trying to shut them, or the car could even lose control.

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If your car is a "hand shaker," it has a ...

Anyone who's driven a manual car knows that your hand can be kept quite busy when trying to stay in the right gear. This has led to cars with manual transmissions being called "hand shakers."

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For a car to be considered "blacked out," which parts must be black?

Owners of blacked-out cars have gone to every effort to ensure their vehicle only shows the color black. This means blacking out everything including the badges, wheels, chrome parts and even the taillights. Of course, the windows need to be tinted too.

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The term "slushbox" refers to a car's ...

A "slushbox" refers to a car that uses an automatic gearbox. Manual transmissions are known to feel direct and engaging, but early automatic transmissions felt "slushy" and too fluid while making forward progression. Torque converters have helped give automatic transmission some feeling, but they can't seem to lose the tag: "slushbox."

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If your car has a "bug catcher," it has ...

When open, hood scoops direct airflow into a car's engine, which can help to improve performance. To get as much air as possible, hood scoops are raised above a car's hood. Big hood scoops, which are often fitted to muscle cars, stop bugs before they can get to the windshield: hence the name.

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If your car "understeers" ...

Understeer occurs when a car's front tires lose grip, causing the car to turn less than the driver has inputted with the steering wheel. When cars understeer, they often run wide. This issue is more commonly associated with front-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive vehicles.

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If you're "riding mafia," you'll be situated ...

People who were unlucky enough to cross members of the mafia often found themselves in the trunk of a car. Now the term "riding mafia" is used to describe someone who rides in the trunk of a car, although voluntarily. Even if the action is voluntary, it's ill-advised, as riding in a car's trunk is dangerous and illegal.

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What is "rev matching?"

Rev matching is the act of raising a car's revs as you downshift through a manual transmission. This makes downshifts smoother and can also be healthier for your drivetrain, especially if you tend to downshift at high RPMs.

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When you hear the word "whip," you might think of a dessert. But, in the automotive world, it refers to a ...

In the early days, a car's steering wheel was referred to as a "whip." This term fell out of fashion but was brought back to popularity in the '90s when hip-hop artists recognized that the Mercedes-Benz logo resembled a steering wheel, and thus a "whip." For a while, only Mercedes-Benz models were referred to as whips, although now this term is used for all cars.

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What kind of maneuver is a "Rockford turn?"

A J-turn is the act of accelerating in reverse before hitting the brakes hard and turning the steering wheel so the car turns 180 degrees. Then selecting drive or first gear and accelerating forward. In the 1970's TV show "The Rockford Files" the main character, Jim Rockford, was famous for doing this maneuver: leading some to call it "the Rockford turn."

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