What terms should I know before I buy a car?

Quick guide to learning new car lingo. Is this your first time buying a car? Sometimes, it can feel like there are a million car terms that you’ve never heard of. But don’t worry, you only need to know a few key terms before you go to purchase your next car. In fact, if you can learn the ten car terms below, you’re on pretty good footing. If you ever get confused, feel free to ask a member of our team for help.

Admin . March 8, 2022

Ten key car terms that you should learn before getting a car

Make: The make of your vehicle is just another way of saying the brand or the automaker. In terms of car classification, it’s a broad category that can then be narrowed down into specific models and trim levels. Some examples of vehicle make include Audi, Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford. We offer a variety of makes here at American Car Center.
Model: The model of your car denotes the specific lineup that your car comes from. Often, you’ll hear a car referenced by its make and model, like in Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, or Nissan Rogue. In every case, the make is listed before the model. So, to be clear, the models in those examples are the Corvette, Mustang, and Rogue. A similar term, model year, refers to the year the model was produced.
Trim level: The trim level takes things one step further up the pyramid. If the make is the broadest category at the base of the pyramid, then the trim level is the smallest point at the top. People often ignore the trim level when they tell you what type of car they have, but when you come in to buy a car, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting. That’s because different trim levels start at different prices and can have totally different features. When reading a vehicle’s full title, it will be listed as model year, make, model, and trim level, from left to right. Here’s an example: 2021 Ford Explorer XLT. Often, the trim level is a combination of letters, like in XLT, but sometimes it can be a full word, like Limited or Platinum.
All-wheel drive: All-wheel drive (AWD) is probably the other most common drive configuration along with FWD. AWD will give you boosted traction. It’s a popular option for off-road drivers.
Four-wheel drive: Four-wheel drive (4WD) is a lot like AWD in that it supplies extra traction. It can also be used for off-road driving. Really, the only difference is that 4WD can often be turned on and off.
Rear-wheel drive: Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is by far the least common drive configuration. You’ll see it most often on performance and sports cars because it does well for cornering. In this configuration, power is supplied to the rear wheels.
Automatic transmission: If you’re coming in to get a car, you’ll most likely want an automatic transmission. These are much more common than manual transmissions because they are simply easier to use. This type of transmission will change gears for you as you accelerate.
Manual transmission: In a manual transmission vehicle, you have to change the gears as you drive. This is also referred to as a stick-shift vehicle, because most of them will have a gear-shift knob for this purpose.
Package: If you ever see words following the trim level of a vehicle, it might be something like Technology Package or Cold Weather Package. Packages are bundles of features added onto a vehicle during production. All you need to know is that packages can change key features of a vehicle like exterior style, seating, technology, and more, so be sure to ask what features come in a given package.
Front-wheel drive: It’s important to know which type of drive configuration you want. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is one option. In this configuration, the powertrain supplies power to the front wheels. Benefits include better fuel economy ratings.
Terms that you should learn before getting a car.
Make: The make of your vehicle is just another way of saying the brand or the automaker. In terms of car classification, it’s a broad category that can then be narrowed down into specific models and trim levels. Some examples of vehicle make include Audi, Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford. We offer a variety of makes here at American Car Center.
Model: The model of your car denotes the specific lineup that your car comes from. Often, you’ll hear a car referenced by its make and model, like in Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, or Nissan Rogue. In every case, the make is listed before the model. So, to be clear, the models in those examples are the Corvette, Mustang, and Rogue. A similar term, model year, refers to the year the model was produced.
Trim level: The trim level takes things one step further up the pyramid. If the make is the broadest category at the base of the pyramid, then the trim level is the smallest point at the top. People often ignore the trim level when they tell you what type of car they have, but when you come in to buy a car, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting. That’s because different trim levels start at different prices and can have totally different features. When reading a vehicle’s full title, it will be listed as model year, make, model, and trim level, from left to right. Here’s an example: 2021 Ford Explorer XLT. Often, the trim level is a combination of letters, like in XLT, but sometimes it can be a full word, like Limited or Platinum.
All-wheel drive: All-wheel drive (AWD) is probably the other most common drive configuration along with FWD. AWD will give you boosted traction. It’s a popular option for off-road drivers.
Four-wheel drive: Four-wheel drive (4WD) is a lot like AWD in that it supplies extra traction. It can also be used for off-road driving. Really, the only difference is that 4WD can often be turned on and off.
Rear-wheel drive: Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is by far the least common drive configuration. You’ll see it most often on performance and sports cars because it does well for cornering. In this configuration, power is supplied to the rear wheels.
Automatic transmission: If you’re coming in to get a car, you’ll most likely want an automatic transmission. These are much more common than manual transmissions because they are simply easier to use. This type of transmission will change gears for you as you accelerate.
Manual transmission: In a manual transmission vehicle, you have to change the gears as you drive. This is also referred to as a stick-shift vehicle, because most of them will have a gear-shift knob for this purpose.
Package: If you ever see words following the trim level of a vehicle, it might be something like Technology Package or Cold Weather Package. Packages are bundles of features added onto a vehicle during production. All you need to know is that packages can change key features of a vehicle like exterior style, seating, technology, and more, so be sure to ask what features come in a given package.
Front-wheel drive: It’s important to know which type of drive configuration you want. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is one option. In this configuration, the powertrain supplies power to the front wheels. Benefits include better fuel economy ratings.

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