These are the top 20 car terms Brits don't understand

Brits are completely baffled by car jargon – with terms such as PCH, range anxiety and supercharger leaving seven in 10 scratching their heads.

In fact, almost a quarter (24 per cent) have even walked away from buying a new or used vehicle because they didn’t understand the salesperson’s terminology.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The study of 2,000 adults revealed 54 per cent don’t have a clue what a PHEV - plug-in hybrid electric vehicle - is, with 34 per cent feeling out of their depth when asked about anything other than petrol or diesel motors.

Only 24 per cent understand the term ‘brake horsepower’, while ‘fuel injection’ leaves 21 per cent of people bewildered.

While two in 10 don’t know what a salesperson means when they talk about transmission checks.

Lack of knowledge results in a lack of confidence to buy a car

It also emerged just under six in 10 adults said a lack of understanding of such phrases leaves them with less confidence when it comes to buying a used vehicle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The research was carried out by CarStore, which has created an online car jargon buster to help equip buyers to make informed, unpressured decisions.

Kim Costello, from Pendragon, which is behind the launch of CarStore, said: "We know that people can be intimidated by the used vehicle buying, selling and servicing process.

“There are many phrases that could leave you confused – whether that’s PCH, PHEV or even something as common as an electric vehicle – and we hope that this will allow people to understand the correct terminology of cars and give them confidence when buying, selling or servicing their vehicles.

"This will give customers the flexibility to approach the process at their own pace, regardless of their level of experience, and empower them with helpful, easy-to-comprehend advice and total transparency."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The study also found 36 per cent think ABS stands for automatic braking system rather than the correct 'anti-lock braking system'.

While one in 10 think PCP stands for permanent car purpose, when it actually means personal contract purchase.

Fake it until you make it

Meanwhile, 32 per cent of adults admit they’ve pretended to understand terminology used by a car salesperson, so as not to appear clueless.

Of these, 57 per cent managed to get away with it but 23 per cent got caught out immediately by the expert.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It also emerged that eight in 10 of those polled own a car - with 17 per cent buying their vehicle within the last two years.

And more than eight in 10 would happily consider buying a second-hand car.

But 74 per cent would take a friend who knows more about cars than they do to the garage to look at the vehicles they are considering buying.

Dad was the top choice for 25 per cent of those, followed by a brother (17 per cent) and mum (12 per cent).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, a quarter of adults would not buy a new vehicle due to being intimidated or confused by the car terms used by a salesperson, according to the study via OnePoll.

While 17 per cent who bought a car admitted not knowing the terminology has caused them trouble.

As a result, 62 per cent wished they knew more about cars and their terms.

Kim Costello added: “Understanding what you are buying is essential in the decision-making process, or you could get yourself into trouble.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We know that not everyone has the same level of experience or expertise when it comes to choosing a new used vehicle, so, if you’re unsure about anything, such as terminology, always make sure to ask the salesperson, or in our case your personal advisor, service advisor or mechanic any questions you may have to give you confidence in the quality and safety of your vehicle.”

To find out more about CarStore and try the car jargon buster, visit


1.            PCH (personal contract hire)

2.            PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

3.            EPS (electric power steering)

4.            PCP (personal contract purchase)

5.            A-pillar

6.            ISOFIX

7.            Range anxiety

8.            Differential

9.            HPI check

10.          Torque

11.          VIN (vehicle identification number)

12.          EV (electric vehicle)

13.          Understeer

14.          Supercharger

15.          Odometer

16.          Traction control

17.          Alternator

18.          Brake horsepower

19.          Wheelbase

20.          Catalytic converter