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Auto 101:
Understanding Service Lingo
Trouble Shooting Tips
Interactive Automotive Systems Guide

If you'd like to ask a technician a question, click

Understanding Service Lingo 
Want to make sense of the auto lingo we use? All industries have a language of their own, a certain way of communicating that easily identifies the insiders or pros from the less experienced amateurs. Eavesdrop on two auto technicians, or two other industry specialists, and you might not understand most of what's being said. Understanding the vocabulary or insider lingo can translate into a more efficient repair by the tech and a lower repair bill for you.

Here are some examples of automobile lingo you may or may not be familiar with:
Slip - The engine revs, but the vehicle doesn't move.

Hesitation or delay - A time lapse between putting the vehicle in gear or stepping on the gas pedal, and getting a reaction.

Hot - Temperature after the engine is warmed up and running. Normal engine temperature is 120 degrees.

Cold - Temperature after the vehicle is turned off and has been sitting.

Higher start - When the transmission doesn't return to first gear at a stop and takes off in high.

Acceleration - Stepping on the gas pedal.

Deceleration - Still moving, with foot off the gas pedal.

Brake pull - Vehicle pulls to one side when the brake is applied.

Steering pull - Vehicle pulls to one side as you steer.

Chatter - A condition that feels like the vehicle is on a rumble strip.

Locking up - When a vehicle won't move and it feels like it's against a brick wall not in neutral.
Cranking - When the starter is turning but the engine won't start.

Smoking - Excess smoke from the tailpipe or smoke that escapes from under the hood.

Out of round - When a tire's condition is too far out of specification to be balanced properly.

Flash the computer - To reprogram or restart the computer.

Torque steer - Vehicle pulls in left or right direction upon acceleration.

Morning sickness - In cold weather when a vehicle looses power steering until the engine is warmed up.

Top off - When the technician adds enough fluid to return the level to full capacity.

Cold start - Cranking the vehicle after it has been sitting for more than five hours. This helps to diagnose certain kinds of problems.

Trouble Shooting Tips 
My Car Won't Start!
I turn the key and nothing happens -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • Battery deterioration
  • Starter wear
  • Neutral safety switch failure
  • Alternator failure
  • Car not in park
  • A combination of these factors
I turn the key and the engine cranks but will not start -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • Fuel system failure
  • Sensor failure
  • Ignition coil failure
  • Timing belt broken
  • Out of gas

My Air Conditioner Stopped Working!
My air blows but is not cool -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • Low Freon caused by leak
  • No power to compressor
  • Compressor failure
My air does not blow -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • A/C controller on dash failure
  • Fan/blower switch failure
  • Bad blower motor

My Check Engine Light Is On!
The running of the vehicle is NOT affected -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • 02 Sensor failure
  • Emission system failure
  • Gas cap not on properly
The running of the vehicle IS affected -
Could be caused by any one of these factors:

  • Bad plug wires
  • Weak fuel pump
  • Engine control module

My Car is Vibrating!
Could be caused by any one of these factors:
  • Out of balance tires
  • Out of round or separating tires
  • Bent or warped wheels
  • Loose or worn suspension parts
  • Loose or worn drive shafts
  • Worn or broken motor mounts
  • Warped brake rotors and/or drums
My Car is Pulling!
Could be caused by any one of these factors:
  • Alignment problems
  • Worn suspension parts
  • Worn bushings
  • Radial tire pulls
  • Sticking calipers on brakes

My Car Squeaks When I Hit Bumps!
Could be caused by any one of these factors:
  • Worn shocks
  • Worn struts
  • Worn suspension parts
  • Loose hub caps

My Brakes Are Squeaking!
Could be caused by any one of these factors:
  • Wear indicators on brake pads
  • Brake shoes/pads worn thin
  • Cracked brake shoes/pads
  • Type of material used in brake shoe/pads
  • Loose brake hardware
  • Worn wheel bearings

My Engine Is Over-heating!
Could be caused by any one of these factors:
It happens only at idle -

  • Cooling fan relay
  • Cooling fan motor
  • Cooling fan clutch
  • Low coolant level
  • Blown head gasket
It happens while driving -
  • Thermostat
  • Coolant leak
  • Collapsed hose
  • Bad water pump belt
  • Radiator plugged up
  • Low coolant level
  • Blown head gasket

My Car Is Leaking A Fluid!
  • Green - antifreeze/coolant
  • Pink - transmission fluid or power steering fluid
  • Dark Brown - motor oil
  • Colorless - gasoline, brake fluid or AC condensation
Interactive Automotive Systems Guide 
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Through our affiliation with A/C Delco, it is possible for us to direct you to their Interactive Automotive Systems Guide. We have found it to be the most user friendly and informative site for information of this kind. It's cool, check it out! When you visit the shop, check out the hard copy on display in our lobby. It offers the same comprehensive information you will find on their website.
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Terry Wynter Auto Service Center
3811 Fowler Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901
(239) 939-2500 • E-mail:

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