Lotus Elan

British and American Terms

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Confused by the terms used in a manual or article written across the pond? You're not alone, here's a handy English - American translation guide. Now you too can confuse your local mechanic!


English American
Accelerator Gas pedal
Aerial Antenna
Anti-roll bar Stabiliser or sway bar
Big-end bearing Rod bearing
Bonnet (engine cover) Hood
Boot (for luggage) Trunk
Bulkhead Firewall
Bush Bushing
Cam follower or tappet Valve lifter or tappet
Carburettor Carburetor
Catch Latch
Choke/venturi Barrel
Circlip Snap-ring
Clearance Lash
Crownwheel Ring gear (of differential)
Damper Sock absorber, shock
Disc (brake) Rotor/disk
Distance piece Spacer
Drop arm Pitman arm
Drop head coupe Convertible
Dynamo Generator (DC)
Earth (electrical) Ground
Engineer's blue Prussian blue
Estate car Station wagon
Exhaust manifold Header
Fault finding/diagnosis Troubleshooting
Float chamber Float bowl
Free-play Lash
Freewheel Coast
Gearbox Transmission
Gearchange Shift
Grub screw Setscrew, Allen screw
Gudgeon pin Piston pin or wrist pin
Halfshaft Axleshaft
Handbrake Parking brake
Hood Soft top
Hot spot Heat riser
Indicator Turn signal
Interior light Dome lamp
Layshaft (of gearbox) Countershaft
Leading shoe (of brake) Primary shoe
Locks Latches
Methylated spirit Denatured alcohol
Motorway Freeway, turnpike etc
Number plate License plate
Paraffin Kerosene
Petrol Gasoline (gas)
Petrol Tank Gas tank
'Pinking' 'Pinging'
Prise (force apart) Pry
Propeller shaft Driveshaft
Quarterlight Quarter window
Retread Recap
Reverse Back-up
Rocker cover Valve cover
Saloon Sedan
Seized Frozen
Sidelight Parking light
Silencer Muffler
Sill panel (beneath doors) Rocker panel
Small end, little end Piston pin or wrist pin
Spanner Wrench
Split cotter (for valve spring cap) Lock (for valve spring retainer)
Split pin Cotter pin
Steering arm Spindle arm
Sump Oil pan
Swarf Metal chips or debris
Tab washer Tang or lock
Tappet Valve lifter
Thrust bearing Throw-out bearing
Top gear High
Torch Flashlight
Trackrod (of steering) Tie-rod (or connecting rod)
Trailing shoe (of brake) Secondary shoe
Transmission Whole drive line
Tyre Tire
Van Panel wagon/van
Vice Vise
Wheel nut Lug nut
Windscreen Windshield
Wing/mudguard Fender