Lost In Translation: Seven Mechanics Terms That Baffle Every Motorist

By: Motor Easy
Lost in translation jargon terms

Nearly half of motorists (47%) feel they’ve overpaid for car repairs because of confusing jargon used by mechanics*.

Hearing that your ‘big end’ has gone or you’ve got ‘mayonnaise’ under your oil cap is causing a loss of faith in garages.

It’s even worse for women with baffling workshop lingo causing a third (32%) of female drivers to stop using a garage because they felt they were being taken advantage of due to their gender.

Garage mechanics remain one of the least trusted professions in the UK** because consumers are left flummoxed by the terms used by technicians and feel obliged to stump up for parts or work – even though they don’t know what they’re paying for.

MotorEasy, wants garages to ditch the jargon and use ‘plain English’ to win owners’ trust back.

Jargon Term 1: Your big end has gone

A large bearing (semi-circular sleeve of metal inside the engine) has worn out and failed. This usually results in further damage to other parts of the engine. If the big end is worn, it can make a loud knocking noise, especially when you accelerate


Jargon Term 2: Excessive play

Not as fun as it first sounds, this is typically used in connection to steering or suspension parts and refers to excessive movement of a part that is either moving more than it should or moving when it shouldn’t do so at all.


Jargon Term 3: Diagnostic check / charge

The technician may plug a diagnostics system into your car to assess any faults; this sounds technical and can be used to mask the cost of an hour’s labour but it usually entails no more than plugging a laptop into the car, taking minutes.


Jargon Term 4: Your bushes on the wishbone are going

Bushes are the little rubber parts attached to suspension parts, including the triangular components called wishbones; because they are rubber, they can perish and wear out. They aren’t an expensive fix however, so bear that in mind.


Jargon Term 5: You’ve got mayonnaise under your oil cap

If water or condensation under the oil cap mixes with engine oil, it creates a thick, white-coloured gunk that collects there; this could indicate that there’s an issue  with the head gasket, which is quite a serious problem. 



Jargon Term 6: Spongy brakes

There isn’t much resistance when the brake pedal is depressed, indicating that the brakes aren’t working properly, usually due to a lack of brake fluid.


Jargon Term 7: I need to access your CAN-bus

Jargon term for the electronics system that allows the vehicle’s engine management computer to ‘talk’ to other parts of the car.

Experienced your own jargon term? Want an engineer to speak plain english and translate it for you? Send  MotorEasy a message. 


*Source: MotorEasy survey of 2,000 motorists nationwide 

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