Your cookie preferences

We use cookies and similar technologies. You can use the settings below to accept all cookies (which we recommend to give you the best experience) or to enable specific categories of cookies as explained below. Find out more by reading our Cookie Policy.

Select cookie preferences

Skip to main content

Autolingo: The ultimate mechanic jargon buster for confusing car terms

Taking your vehicle for a service can be daunting at the best of times. Car terms like spark plug, camshaft, and fan belt can lead to vacant stares as you struggle to understand the mechanics’ diagnosis of your car’s problems.
Share this guide

Our experts are on a mission to help you save money and keep your car insurance compliant. So, Uswitch Car Insurance has partnered up with top mechanical experts, Kwik Fit, to construct a tool that will ensure you’re able to head to the garage with confidence.

This essential translator will help you decode 130 auto repair terms commonly used by mechanics to ensure you can confidently engage with them, politely query any suggestions and ultimately save money when it comes to getting your car serviced. It’s time to change gears and empower yourself with car terminology.

How do drivers feel when faced with car terminology at the garage?

Recent statistics unearthed by Uswitch have revealed some alarming insights into how UK drivers really feel about trips to the garage.

Three out of five UK drivers feel like they’ve overpaid for a car service after being confused by mechanical jargon

61% of drivers worry they’re being hit with higher bills for not knowing the ins and outs of car terminology.

So if you’ve ever been left bewildered by terms like ‘brake bleeding’, you're certainly not the only one.

Almost three in four drivers believe they would pay less on their car service if they understood more car jargon 

A trip to the garage can often feel like learning a foreign language, making it harder to negotiate a good deal. Our recent survey suggests that 67% of UK drivers believe that if they had a better understanding of mechanical terms, they’d also get a better deal during car services.

You don’t need to become an expert on auto repair terms, but a little bit of knowledge and understanding might just give you the upper hand when it comes to chatting with your local garage. 

Who wouldn’t fancy the prospect of a better deal on car repairs?

60% of drivers admit they feel anxious about auto repair terms before getting their car serviced 

Like a job interview, no-one enjoys going to a garage and being faced with questions and language they may not understand - and they’re not alone. 

Our recent poll has uncovered a rather telling insight: three in five drivers feel anxious about going to get their car serviced. It's also not just about feeling out of depth in a language of camshafts, differentials, and torque but also the potential financial pitfalls.

Two in five don't feel comfortable discussing car terms when servicing their vehicle, potentially leading to uninformed decisions

37% of Brits have confessed they're not comfortable discussing car terminology during their vehicle's service.

This data serves as a wake-up call to drivers to familiarise themselves, even if just slightly, with the basics of car mechanic lingo. It also shows that there is an opportunity to simplify the conversation for those working in the auto industry.

The better your understanding of car terms, the more confident you’ll feel to negotiate on the price - helping you to save money over the years.

Tips for dealing with mechanical jargon and keeping your car roadworthy

So, how do you ensure you're not part of these statistics? Our team has put together an honest guide on where to begin when it comes to the task of taking your car to the garage.

Research is your best friend

Interestingly, one in five (21%) drivers only dive into research AFTER they’ve already paid for the service, which is a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

Not only that, another 28% of drivers don’t do any research at all. By using tools like AutoLingo, you'll already be a step ahead of nearly half the country.

Preventative Measures

Just like taking vitamins to fend off a cold, preventative car care can ward off hefty repair bills. 

Regularly checking fluid levels, tire pressure, and brake systems can identify issues before they become major problems.

Warranty Wisdom  

Before you reach into your wallet, always double-check your warranty, especially if your car is somewhat on the newer side. 

It’s not uncommon for certain repairs or replacements to be covered, saving you a pretty penny, and you may find that you paid for a warranty that lasts beyond a year, so go back and check the fine print.

Routine Service

Familiarise yourself with your car’s recommended service schedule and set reminders ahead of time so you stick to it. 

Although no one likes a costly service, regular maintenance can prevent larger, more expensive issues down the road.

The most common car terminology questions

In the era of social media and search engines, it’s evident that there is a clear desire to understand more about their cars from customers.

We have looked into the most commonly searched car repair terms and questions in the UK. Here are the terms that confuse people the most when it comes to motor maintenance:

QuestionSearches a Month (UK)
What is a catalytic converter?28,330
What is a car transmission?20,180
What is engine coolant?15,690
How to check transmission fluid?13,150
What is an alternator?9,950
What does a gearbox do?9,350
What is a double clutch?5,420
What does a clutch do?3,630
Why won't my car start?1300
What is a timing belt?1000
Why is my check engine light on?590
What is an egr valve?590
What is a head gasket?590
What does a car radiator do?530
What is a spark plug?480

We at Uswitch have independently analysed three different price quotes online and found the average cost to replace some of these car parts, which is not cheap. It’s also important to note that these prices can vary hugely due to the make and model of the car and are only reflective of an average price. 

On average, research revealed you can expect to pay £508 to replace a catalytic converter, the most expensive replacement on the top searched-for car terms.

The second most expensive is a clutch replacement, averaging £498 followed by a gearbox replacement (£404), timing belt (a.k.a cambelt), costing £320, and alternator costs an average of £262.

With the Uswitch Car Insurance x Kwik Fit collaboration, you now have a tool tailored to get your brain into gear ahead of a garage trip. Level up your knowledge and drive confidently to your next car appointment!

Read more like Autolingo: The ultimate mechanic jargon buster

UK Temporary Car Insurance Statistics 2023

The latest UK temporary car insurance statistics for 2023, including a market overview, analysis of users, customer satisfaction, and much more.

Learn more
An image showing a car on top of a stack of coins and the title "100+ UK car insurance statistics 2023".

100+ UK Car Insurance Statistics 2023

We’ve compiled more than 100 UK car insurance market statistics, average costs, and premiums. Click here to read more!

Learn more
Feature image with the title 100 UK classic car insurance statistics for 2024 and a picture of a classic car

100 UK Classic Car Insurance Statistics for 2024 - Facts and Stats Report |

Which gender pays most for classic car insurance? We’ve collated 100 UK classic car insurance statistics in 2024, including market size and demographic stats.

Learn more
 Banner Graphic with the title '100+ Young Drivers Insurance Statistics'

100+ Young Driver Insurance Statistics 2023 |

We’ve collated a page of over 100 statistics about young drivers, featuring stats on the many factors that determine average cost of insurance for new drivers.

Learn more
Police officer writing a ticket or issuing a fine to a male car driver

Is my car insured? How to run a car insurance check - Uswitch

Is your car insured? Driving without a valid car insurance policy is illegal. Find out how to check your insurance to see if you're insured to drive.

Learn more
M1 motorway in UK with blue sky at sunny day

Car insurance for foreign drivers in the UK - Uswitch

Find out how you can drive in the UK if you have a non-UK licence, what car insurance international drivers need before getting behind the wheel and how to lower costs.

Learn more
Creative Commons
Creative Commons