60 Car Features Explained: The Spinny Glossary

Speedometer showing ABS warning light
By - Team Spinny
September 19, 2022

What’s Cruise Control, and how’s it different from Adaptive Cruise Control? What are Cornering Foglamps? And Cornering Headlights? If you struggle to tell your ABS apart from your EBS, you aren’t alone. Pick up any car brochure, visit any dealership or click on any car review link, and you will find yourself faced with a tall list of features and specs that sound great to have on your car, but are hard to understand, especially with the internet flooded with often a lot of (and often conflicting) information on these terms.

Now, we understand you want to know what these car features mean, how they work and in what ways do they impact your drive and ride quality. But we also know that you may be pressed for time, so we decided to keep our car glossary short and simple. Take a look at our handy list of car term-busters, all in 150 characters or less. We will keep updating the list, but do let us know in the comment box if there’s a particular term that you want us to cover or explain in more detail.

Also Read – What Is ABS

Electronic Parking Brake

A feature that allows you to engage or disengage the handbrake with the press of a button instead of pulling the lever.

360 View Camera

A 4-camera setup to give you a complete view around the car, as if you were looking at it from the top of your car.

Automatic Parking Assist

Detects empty spots if you’re moving slowly or stopped & helps you park without controlling steering. You still have to control accelerator & brakes.

Night Vision Assist

An infrared camera that detects objects in the car’s path that may not be visible to the naked eye, & sends the driver an alert on the screen.

Adaptive Cruise Control

While using cruise control, this feature automatically reduces the car’s speed on detecting a slower vehicle in the front to avoid collision.

Cruise Control

Feature that lets you drive at constant speed without having to press accelerator. On pressing brakes, this feature is deactivated for safety.

Digital Cockpit

A fully functional digital display. Unlike old cluster meters with analogue speed & RPM meters, it has far more customisable info & displays.

Heads Up Display(HUD)

A transparent display that presents important data without requiring drivers to take their eyes of the road.

Blind Spot Monitor

Detects objects in the driver’s blind spots and informs the driver via visual or audible signals.

Hill Assist

Stops the car from rolling back while you’re driving uphill, giving time to move the foot from the brake to the accelerator to move the car upward.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP)

This feature applies brakes to individual tyres so that the vehicle does not spin off while the driver tries to avoid objects on road.

Also Read – Electronic Stability Control

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

System that continuously monitors tyre pressure in all 4 tyres and informs you on the cluster meter if it detects a drop in tyre pressure.

Also Read – Tyre Pressure In Car

ABS+EBD

While braking this system decides how much pressure is required on each wheel to get max braking performance without locking the tyres.

ABS

This feature doesn’t let the tyres get locked while you’re braking hard, so you can make the turn without skidding.

Automatic Climate Control

Works like a home AC and maintains the set temperature, thus saving fuel by switching compressor off when not needed.

Dual Zone Climate Control

A feature that allows you to maintain different temperatures in different areas inside the car.

Anti Pinch Power Windows

Safety feature to stop the windows from closing if it detects an object in its path.

Heated ORVM

Function that helps you remove fog and mist from the ORVM without having to open the windows and cleaning them yourself.

Hill Descent Control

Detects rise in the car speed happening without any input from the accelerator while its going downhill, & reduces the speed by braking.

Apple car play/ Android auto

This function lets you connect your Android/iOS phone to the car screen and access apps on your phone, without having to use the handset.

Hands-Free Tailgate

This feature lets you open or close the boot by just waving your foot under the car. Very helpful when your hands are full.

Mild Hybrid

Integrated starter generator that charges a Lithium ion battery under the driver’s seat, to assist in start stop function & additional power boost when needed.

Driving Mode

This feature lets you modify engine behaviour & gear shifting points for automatics, to provide performance, comfort or mileage based on your selection.

Real Time Vehicle Tracking

The vehicle is embedded with a GPS chip so that the user can always track its location.

Engine Immobilizer

An electronic device that does not let the car start unless the right transponder/key is inside the vehicle. Saves vehicle from getting hotwired.

Limited Slip Differential (LSD)

It maintains a minimum amount of torque on both wheels of an axle, and redistributes the rest based on the restriction on the road.

Steering Adjustment Type

Tilt : Up and down position change of the steering wheel; Telescopic: In and out movement of the steering wheel.

Mileage (ARAI)

Mileage of a car determined by ARAI on a designated test track, may vary in actual driving conditions

Tachometer

It displays the engine’s speed in Revolutions per minute (RPM). Also helps the driver estimate when to change gears.

Xenon Headlamps/HID

High Intensity Discharge(HID) headlamps are used to get very bright light output compared to regular halogen tamps to guide you when its dark.

Body Kit

Body components designed to improve car’s aerodynamics/ aesthetics; available as a body kit to be installed on regular cars (may incl. front & rear bumper, spoilers, side skirts, etc.)

Rear Spoiler

A functional rear spoiler is an aerodynamic device that helps generate downforce and improves grip. A non-functional will just improve aesthetics.

Seat Lumbar Support

Lumbar back support is designed to fill the gap between lower back and the seat and helps to maintain posture for a comfortable ride.

Adjustable Lumbar Support

Feature that lets drivers & passengers adjust lower back support as per their comfort. It relaxes tension on the spine, especially on long drives.

Tailgate Ajar Sensor

Detects if the tailgate/ boot is open, and informs the driver to avoid any safety hazard.

Voice Command/ Control

A feature that allows you to control certain pre-defined functions in a car like climate control and audio volume with voice inputs.

Electrically Adjustable Headrests

Electrically adjustable headrests that allow the occupants to adjust the headrest’s position with buttons rather than doing it manually.

Active Noise Cancellation

With this feature, the car produces sound frequencies to nullify or cut out unwanted noises such as those from the road, or made by the wind or tyres.

Smart Key Band

Wearable band that performs the functions of a smart key. It allows functions like locking, unlocking, boot release & others depending on the carmaker.

Paddle Shifters

Steering mounted paddles that allow the driver to shift gears without taking their hands off the steering wheel (like a race car).

Also Read – Cars With Paddle Shifters

Lane Change Indicator

With just a tap of the indicator lever, it will blink 3-8 times to indicate lane change and switch off automatically unlike the indicator.

Traction Control

It detects slipping of a wheel when accelerating and reduces the wheel speed by braking or cutting off power to maintain maximum traction at each wheel.

Pre-Safe Sound

Merc-Benz safety feature; emits pink noise at 80 decibels to save occupants from hearing damage. It activates upon detecting an unavoidable crash that’s about to occur.

Child Seat Anchor Points aka ISOFIX

Image showing ISPFIX bracket on the rear car seat

Provides a way for the child seat to be firmly fixed to the car, so that the child stays safe as seatbelts cannot hold children.

Follow Me Home Headlamps

Safety feature that activates car headlights for a short period after the car is locked to illuminate dark areas and help you get home safely.

Dual-Stage Airbags

They have 2 inflation stages that are triggered individually, sequentially or parallelly based on the severity of the crash

Differential Lock

This rotates both the wheels on the axle at the same speed in all conditions. To be used when offroading or when the vehicle is stuck in muddy areas.

Engine Check Warning

A warning signal indicating that there’s something wrong with the engine that needs to be checked by a mechanic urgently.

Pretensioners and Force Limiters Seatbelts

Seat belt pretensioners tighten up and secure the driver in the event of a crash. Load limiters allow the seat belt to reduce force on the chest of the driver in case it exceeds a certain limit

SOS/ Emergency Assistance

An emergency assistance system that automatically notifies emergency services within your location in the event of a crash. You can also press the SOS button to call emergency services manually in an emergency.

Cornerning Brake Control

Another term for EBD.

Geo-Fence Alert

The user is alerted on their phone when their vehicle moves out of a virtual fence on the map, set by the user

Kerb Weight

Weight of the vehicle including a full tank of fuel & all standard equipment. Doesn’t include the weight of passengers, cargo or optional equipment.

Gross Weight

Weight of the vehicle including a full tank of fuel and all standard equipment as well as the weight of the driver, passengers and luggage.

Max Power

Maximum power refers to the maximum measured horsepower output of an engine at rated speeds as stated by the manufacturer.

Max Torque

Maximum torque is the highest value of the net torque measured at full engine load.

Minimum Turning Radius

The radius of the circle in which the vehicle will move without skidding when the steering has been turned to its extreme end.

Transmission Type

Defines the type of gearbox and how the driver will interact with it.

Drivetrain

The chain of components that deliver power from the engine to the tyres.

Supercharger

It pushes more air inside the cylinder for better combustion of the fuel. It runs on the engine’s power only.

Turbocharger

It pushes more air inside the cylinder for better combustion of fuel. It runs on the exhaust gases that come out of an engine.

Number of Cylinders

The number of cylinders present in an engine. This number depends on the purpose served by the engine.

Turbocharger Type

There are several types of turbochargers including single, twin, scroll, variable geometry, variable scroll and electric turbo.

Displacement

Defines the size of an engine. It is the volume of the cylinder when the piston is at the lowermost point multiplied by the no. of cylinders.

Keyless Entry

Allows you to open the car doors with the press of a button on the door handle or on the key itself.

Smart Access Card Entry

Opens the door for you if the key is within a certain radius around the vehicle. You don’t have to press any button to open the door.

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