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20 need-to-know car acronyms

Knowledge is power! By Caira-Lee Durand
car acronyms

Here’s 20 of the most commonly used car acronyms, so you can update your car vocabulary:

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1. ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)

Under heavy braking, ABS prevents the wheels of your car from locking up and causing it to skid. This ensures that control and steering are maintained. Before the advent of ABS, the driver would have to use cadence braking (pumping the brakes) to achieve the same effect.

2. ACC (Active Cruise Control)

We’re all familiar with cruise control and how it works; you set your speed and the system maintains it. If, however, you come up to slower traffic ahead you would have to apply the brakes or disengage cruise control. ACC uses a front-mounted radar that detects slower vehicles ahead and maintains a relative speed.

3. ATC (Active Traction Control)

This comes into play in off-road or 4×4 situations and brakes the spinning wheels on the vehicle. At the same time, it diverts torque to the wheel or wheels that do have traction to ensure that the vehicle keeps moving forward.

4. AWD (All-wheel Drive)

This basically refers to vehicles with permanent four-wheel drive. In short, this means that power is distributed to all four wheels simultaneously rather than to the front or rear wheels only.

5. BAS (Brake Assist)

Also referred to as emergency brake assist (EBA), this system increases braking pressure under emergency conditions. It interprets the speed at which the vehicle is traveling and the force with which the brake pedal is being pushed to determine if the driver is attempting to execute an emergency stop. If the system detects that the brake isn’t fully applied, it does so automatically.

6. CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) 

CVT is basically automatic transmission and – using an internal belt and cone arrangement – can vary drive ratios. Thus it offers an infinite number of gear ratios instead of a set number as in a traditional automatic transmission.

7. DAC (Downhill Assist Control)

In off-road vehicles this system prevents vehicles skidding down steep or slippery descents. This is achieved by using the vehicle’s ABS and throttle control systems.

8. DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox)

DSG refers to a computer controlled manual gearbox but without the conventional pedal. It offers drivers full automatic or semi-manual control over the gears and because the computer pre-selects the next gear, gears are shifted very rapidly.

9. EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)

As a sub-system of ABS, EBD automatically controls the amount of brakeforce distributed to each of the car’s four wheels. Taking factors such as road conditions, speed and vehicle weight into consideration, EBD will apply more or less braking power to each individual wheel to ensure that maximum traction and control is maintained.

10. ECU (Electronic Control Unit)

This is the electronic brain of your vehicle and it controls systems such as engine management, transmission or electrics.

Related: 8 bad driving habits – and why they’re so dangerous

11. EDC (Electronic Damper Control)

Controlled by the vehicle’s ECU, EDC adjusts the shock absorbers in accordance with road and driving conditions. By regulating the damper forces applied on each shock absorber it ensures a smooth and less bumpy ride.

12. ELR (Emergency Locking Retractor)

You know that jerking motion you feel from the seatbelt when you brake hard and suddenly? That’s ELR in action.

13. ESP (Electronic Stability Programme)

Also known as DSC or ESC, ESP controls vehicle stability in situations of over- or understeer. Oversteer is when you go into a corner and the nose turns in too sharply, causing the rear of the vehicle to move outwards. Understeer, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite; the nose of the vehicle doesn’t turn into the corner as sharply as required.

14. FWD (Front Wheel Drive)

Most cars these days are FWD. This means that the engine’s power is delivered through the front wheels of the vehicle only.

15. HAC (Hill Assist Control)

When pulling away on an incline, HAC prevents the vehicle from rolling backward by holding the brakes for a split second as you push down on the accelerator.

16. PAS (Power Assisted Steering)

Commonly referred to as power steering, this system reduces the effort you have to put into steering your vehicle. It can be hydraulic, electronic or a combination of the two, and it is particularly effective at low speeds, such as when you are parking.

17. PDC (Park Distance Control)

Many modern day cars are fitted with sensors (located in the front and rear bumpers) that let out an audible warning when your vehicle is getting too close to other cars or objects. Sometimes this comes in combination with park assist cameras, which give you a visual indication of the distance between your vehicle and obstacles.

18. RWD (Rear Wheel Drive)

In rear wheel drive cars, the engine’s power is delivered through the rear wheels, as opposed to FWD.

19. SRS (Supplementary Restraint System)

If your car is equipped with airbags, you will have seen the SRS stamp on the steering wheel and on the dashboard in front of the front passenger. In the event of a collision, the vehicle’s SRS sensors will detect a pre-determined level of impact force and deploy the airbags.

20. VVT (Variable Valve Timing)

Another tricky technical feature, this time related to engine efficiency, performance and exhaust emissions. A vehicle’s engine needs a lot of air, particularly at high speeds. This is regulated by the intake valves but sometimes they close before enough air has gone into the combustion chamber. This will have a negative effect on the vehicle’s performance. If, however, the valves stay open for too long, unburnt fuel will exit the engine and cause increased emissions.

From: WOW

PHOTO: iStock/BrianAJackson

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