Buying a Car: Car Lingo Decoded

Cruise the showroom like an expert with our handy guide to auto acronyms.

Continuous variable transmission (CVT): A handling system that improves a car's fuel efficiency and makes for a smoother ride.

Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC): An internal computer system that updates you on the external and internal air temperature, fuel economy, and engine warnings.

Four-Wheel Electronic Traction Control (4ETC): Keeps all four wheels working even if three lose touch with the road.

GPS: A satellite and computer relay system that can find your car's, computer's, or PDA's location anywhere in the world.

HomeLink: A computer chip link-up that allows you to turn on your home's lights, deactivate your security system, and open your garage door while you're still sitting in your car.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): Tethers or straps that attach a child seat to an eyebolt anchor in the backseat of your car, offering additional protection in case of an accident.

OnStar: A computer chip that links to the GPS satellite system. It alerts authorities to your location in the event of an accident so that you can receive immediate medical attention.

SecuriLock: Made by Ford, a theft-deterrent system that makes it nearly impossible to start a car or truck without the properly coded key.

Sentry Key Theft Deterrent System: Similar to the SecuriLock system, though it's found exclusively in Chrysler models.

Versatrak: Made by General Motors, an all-wheel-drive system that adjusts traction in poor weather conditions.

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