Buying a Car: Car Lingo Decoded

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

Buying a Car: Car Lingo Decoded ESB Professional/Shutterstock
If you're in the market for a new car, you need to know your vehicle vernacular! Check out our handy guide to auto acronyms, and cruise the showroom like an expert.

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

Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC): A driver-interactive display located in the instrument cluster updates you on vehicle information such as engine warnings, fuel economy, and temperature indications, at a quick glance and all in one place.

HomeLink: A vehicle-based wireless control system that allows you to turn on your home's interior/exterior lights, appliances and electronics, activate/deactivate your security system, and open/close your garage door while you're still sitting in your car.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): The LATCH system was created to make the installation of child safety seats easier sans the use of seat belts. LATCH is found in vehicles and infant, convertible and forward-facing child safety seats manufactured after September 1, 2002. The system features built-in lower straps and hooks on the safety seat and anchor hardware in the vehicle. The LATCH anchors and attachments take the place of seatbelts, offering additional protection in case of an accident.

OnStar: A computer chip that links to the GPS satellite system. It alerts emergency responders to your location in the event of an accident so that you can receive immediate attention. (Note: Many automakers have their own version of this telematics, vehicle communications system that exclusively belongs to GM.)

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 in Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat models.

StabiliTrak: The trademark name for General Motors' electronic stability control system helps keep your vehicle under control during sudden maneuvers like emergency lane changes and quick avoidance moves.

Traction Control: Keeps all four wheels working even if three lose their footing. When one of your car's tires begins to slip or overspin, the traction control system applies the brake to only that wheel. As the wheel slows, your tire is able to regain contact with the road so you can maintain control of the car.

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