Learn What Makes Your Vehicle Safe and Reliable
By Steven Marks / September 1, 2015

For years, the automotive industry has used abbreviations for various technologies and standard measurements. Today's vehicles are marked with a number of abbreviations, but what exactly do they mean? Below is a comprehensive list of some of the most common.

ABS: Anti-lock Braking System
This breakthrough system represents one of the most important safety features of the automobile today. The Anti-lock Braking System uses an automated, electronic safety system that allows the tires on a vehicle to maintain surface contact according to driver input on braking. ABS prevents the wheels from locking up to avoid uncontrollable skidding.

ESP/EBC/DSC: Electronic Stability Program/Electronic Stability Control/Dynamic Stability Control
These stability systems represent a sophisticated electronic technology that uses the brake to "steer" the vehicle in an intended direction. The primary focus is to improve the vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing the loss of traction. As of 2012, every new car available in the industry must have this system as a standard feature as required by law.

Learn What Makes Your Vehicle Safe and Reliable
SRS: Supplemental Restraint System
The abbreviation gracing many steering wheels and passenger side dashboards, the Supplemental Restraint System is better known as the airbag. Debuting as a passive safety system in the early Nineties, the airbag has become an industry standard. Today's road vehicles have an average of six different airbags per car. They are placed throughout the cabin including the dashboard, seats, pillars, and even the knee area.

MPG: Miles Per Gallon
MPG is the primary measurement used for fuel economy determined by the overall distance traveled and the amount (in gallons) of fuel economy consumed by the vehicle. In 2014, the average new car fuel economy was 24.9 MPG.

TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Starting as early as the 1980s, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System was available on select high-end European vehicles. This sophisticated electronic system monitors the air pressure of each tire on passenger vehicles, alerting the driver when any go beyond the recommended tire pressure.

ULEV: Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle
The Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle is a motor vehicle that releases extremely low levels of exhaust emissions. In select areas around the country, the law permits an extended tax credit or advantage for these automobiles. Several new vehicles in the industry achieve and surpass this eco-friendly new standard.

VIN: Vehicle Identification Number
The Vehicle Identification Number is a 17-digit, unique serial code of alphanumeric characters that identifies motor vehicles. In the early 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized the format to be consistent for each automotive manufacturer. The characters represent the country of production, body style, model year, and serial number.

ZEV: Zero Emission Vehicles
A Zero Emission Vehicle is defined simply as a car or truck that doesn't give off any type of tailpipe pollutants from the onboard source of propulsion or power. An electric vehicle, or EV, uses electric motors to move, usually sourced by a rechargeable battery pack.

4WD: Four-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive refers to a vehicle with two or more axles that provide power to each of the four wheels. A transfer case between the front and rear axles means that each can be engaged at the same time, as well as independent of each other.

FWD: Front-Wheel Drive
Front-Wheel Drive gives engine power to only the front wheels. Pretty self-explanatory. It is noted for its benefit of compact packaging. The FWD setup allows for more interior cabin volume, better efficiency, and added handling characteristics.

AWD: All-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive refers to "permanent multiple wheel drive," where all four wheels are moving at all times. Many sports car manufacturers are beginning to make this type of drivetrain standard, as it is most notable for performing exceptionally well on most surfaces.

Besides the mentioned, there are so many more abbreviations that are used that can sometimes vary per manufacturer and model. The particular ones outlined above have been used for decades and will continue on to be the industry standard, as most of them are governmentally regulated. Look for even more automotive abbreviations in the future.

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