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23 March 2020
Cash or Finance Which is Better?
You’re looking to buy a car and have a sum of money in the bank you could use towards the purchase. But you’re not sure whether to spend it or apply for vehicle finance instead. We’ve been told that buying anything of high value would be best to pay cash rather than applying for a loan. This does make a fair amount of sense since financing a car means paying interest that adds up substantially to the total cost of the car. Cash or finance, everyone’s situation is different. There are many variables to consider, such as initial deposit amounts, lender interest rates, the potential income from investment of your cash, your credit rating, and even the alternative ways to finance a car, such as personal loan, utilising an access bond facility of a home loan, credit card, and leasing. In this article, we highlight the main pros and cons of financing versus cash purchases. Advantages of Vehicle Financing With vehicle finance and your savings or investment intact, you’ll retain your savings that can be used as backup funds in an emergency. In the longer term, you’ll have both an investment and a paid-up vehicle as part of your net worth. Other benefits to consider: Potential income from investment of spare cash An investment of savings earns income (interest, dividends, capital growth, etc.) and using cash to buy a vehicle will reduce, or even eliminate, the opportunity to generate investment income. However, it’s important to compare the interest cost of vehicle finance with the potential investment income. Investment income, net of any tax, will very rarely be more than the interest cost of vehicle finance. Improve your credit record You can benefit from using vehicle finance by establishing a good credit history which will make it easier to obtain credit in the future. As long as you make your monthly payments timeously the bank will see you as a relatively low-risk borrower and may afford you a lower interest rate for future finance agreements. At the very least it will make your life easier when applying for future loans. More purchase options With financing, you may also be able to choose a better car as the cost is spread out over time. However, a better car, should not be taken as a ‘fancier’ car, but rather a better quality car – one that has been quality-checked, has a full service history, and purchased from a reputable dealer. Overall, vehicle finance affords you the opportunity to purchase a car even if you have no money saved in the bank. Read: How to Finance a Vehicle Disadvantages of Vehicle Financing A finance agreement is a contract between you and the financial institution. The worst situations occur when you fail your monthly payments and the bank repossesses the vehicle. Not only does this leave you without a car, but could leave you in debt on something you will never own. Also consider: Interest rate Any form of borrowing from an institution incurs interest, which means ultimately, you end up paying substantially more than the car’s cash purchase price. With vehicle finance too, interests rates are amongst the highest of all forms of borrowing. Ownership and repossession The vehicle doesn’t belong to you – until it’s fully paid off (including any balloon payment at the end of the agreement) it will still belong to the bank. And if you fail to make your monthly instalments, the bank will repossess the vehicle. Early settlement penalties If you want to dispose of the vehicle before the vehicle finance period is up, there is usually a penalty for early settlement, for example, an equivalent of three months' interest. Comparatively more expensive Vehicle finance is usually more expensive than other forms of borrowing, such as an overdraft, personal loan, credit card, or home loan where there is an ‘access’ facility. If you do go the vehicle finance route, ensure that you make your monthly payments on time so that it does not negatively affect your credit score. VEHICLE FINANCING Advantages Disadvantages Return on investment Interest rate Improve your credit record Ownership and repossession More purchase options Early settlement penalties Comparatively more expensive Advantages of Cash Buying cash is just a more simple and straightforward process than financing. No application forms, waiting for approval, administration – basically, it’s so much less paperwork. No interest The price you see is what you pay – once-off. Besides saving on interest and finance administration costs, managing your budget is easier without the extra monthly car instalment, which is usually one of the highest expenses in most households. When you add up the interest you would have paid, and compare it to the potential earnings from investing that cash amount, paying cash is nearly always the cheapest option. Full ownership Since the car belongs to you, there are no restrictions on how you treat it. You may modify the engine, re-spray it a different colour, or enhance the audio system, without any consequences from a bank or finance institution. Emergency asset While it is a depreciating asset, (unless you buy a classic vehicle such as a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO) should you run short of cash you can sell the vehicle, which would not be an option if you had financed it. Trade-ins When you decide to replace the car with another one, you can use it as part-exchange by trading it in at a dealership who will give you a full valuation and make you an offer. The transaction is much simpler too, compared to trading in a financed vehicle which involves the complication of getting a settlement figure from the bank and likely incurring an early settlement penalty. Tax-deductibility. Investment income is usually taxable, whereas interest or finance charges on a vehicle purchase do not usually qualify for tax deductibility. Disadvantages of Cash No credit history If you are trying to establish a credit record or improve your overall credit score, paying cash won’t help you. A car loan, even for a short period like six months is a good way to build up your credit score. No emergency funds This cash may be better utilised in other ways, including as a safeguard against possible emergencies. Lost investment income When comparing investment income with finance charges, very rarely will investment income, net of tax, exceed the cost of vehicle finance. BUYING A CAR CASH Advantages Disadvantages Full ownership No credit history Emergency asset No emergency funds Trade-ins Lost investment income In Summary Interest charges on vehicle finance are usually at a significantly higher rate than most other forms of borrowing. This interest adds up to a substantial amount over the period of the vehicle finance agreement. On the other hand, when buying cash, you will lose the potential income which could be obtained from investing that cash. It is, therefore, necessary to compare the cost of vehicle finance with the foregone investment earnings (interest, dividends, capital growth, etc.) after tax, where applicable. In nearly all cases it will be cheaper to buy for cash. Whichever route you decide should fit your unique circumstances. Depending on your available funds and how much you want to spend on a vehicle, you might even consider both options. There’s nothing stopping you from putting down a cash deposit and applying for finance for the balance amount. If you’re looking for a quality, used car at affordable prices, Auto Pedigree offers a variety of options in vehicles. Read next: Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
12 March 2020
7 Vehicle Safety Features to Look Out For
It’s an avoidable fact of life – every time you drive your car out onto the roads you put yourself at risk. Statistically, it’s more dangerous driving on the roads than flying in an aeroplane. This is why many car manufacturers work tirelessly to introduce innovative technologies that can help make driving safer for all. When on the market for a new car, you may want to consider which safety features out there are important to you. Forward Collision Alert Detects an impending collision with another vehicle ahead of you and alerts you in order for you to brake or avoid it in time. Automatic Emergency Brakes Detects an impending collision with another vehicle and first alerts you. If you fail to take action or are too slow to avoid the crash, the automatic braking system takes over to avoid or reduce the severity of the crash. Dynamic Brake Support Supplements your own braking if it is not sufficient to avoid a collision. Lane Departure Warning A camera monitors lane markings and alerts you when the car is unintentionally veering out of its lane without indicating a turn signal. 360° Vision A CCTV system that provides 360° visibility – a complete bird’s eye view of every angle of your vehicle on one screen. Adaptive cruise control Also known as dynamic cruise control, this system automatically adjusts your car’s speed to maintain a safe following distance from vehicles ahead. Night Vision Until it becomes more affordable, this safety feature is not mainstream yet. The system helps drivers see better in the dark with the use of infrared light and can detect pedestrians on the road in front. In Summary While it may be correct to say that flying is safer than driving, the fact of the matter is that there are too many drivers that are unlicensed, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted while driving, and many other reasons that lead them and other road users into accident situations. Safety features or not, remember that the most important safety feature is the one in control of the wheel. Also read: Vehicle Terminology – what do they all mean? Vehicle Acronyms – What Do They All Stand For? Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
02 March 2020
Where to Check Your Credit Score
Did you know that you have the right to one free credit report per year? Once a year, you have the right to obtain a credit report from any of the credit bureaus in South Africa. A credit report is a summary of your financial background, and includes your credit score which is an indication of your financial decisions. When applying for a loan on a vehicle or any other big purchase, banks and other financial institutions who are the money-lenders, will use this credit score as part of their decision on whether to approve your loan or not. Read more on our Guide to Credit Scores. 5 Categories that Influence Your Credit Score As mentioned in our credit score guide, there are several factors that influence your credit score. Essentially, to determine your score, there are five major categories of calculation to determine your credit score: Payment history Credit to debt ratio Credit history Credit types New credit or credit enquiries How Do Credit Bureaus Calculate Your Credit Score? Credit bureaus have their own methods of calculating credit scores since there is no a standard way. Therefore, your score can differ from one credit bureau to another. These are some main areas that they place importance on: Your purchasing behaviour and how much debt you have incurred Employment circumstances How you compare to other consumers Free Online Credit Score Checks While obtaining your credit score is important, it’s something you won’t be able to calculate yourself. Only the credit bureaus know the formula, but you can get your credit score calculated online for free. Key information you’ll need to provide is your South African identity number, employment status, and monthly income. Try one or more of the following sites: Get a comprehensive overview of your credit information and detailed credit history. See your current credit score, what is going on with your accounts, and any defaults and judgments against you on Get a free credit report and credit score on Sign up and receive your credit history, current payments and balances, alerts, and credit score through one user-friendly dashboard on An updated/ once-off view of your TransUnion Credit Report and displays any adverse court action taken against you on Check your credit score and get tips to improve it on is not a free service but for those who want to improve their score, they offer a membership subscription and money-back guarantee. Note: We have not tested and are not recommending any of these sites but merely providing you with a shortlist as a starting point. Remember that you’re aiming for a higher score. Between 600 – 619 puts you in the middle ground, and you should try and increase your score to a minimum of 620. For more information on credit score ranges read our guide to credit scores. If you’re looking for vehicle finance, Auto Pedigree has arrangements with all major banks in South Africa. Applying is easy, just fill in thefinance application form in a few easy steps. Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
24 February 2020
What To Do When You're Involved In An Accident
There will be minor accidents and then there will be more serious collisions involving bodily injuries. What to do in each case will differ, but the basic procedures are similar. Immediately After the Accident Occurs Assuming you yourself are not hurt; this is a step-by-step checklist to follow as soon as an accident happens: Stop – no matter how minor an accident may seem, driving away from an accident is a criminal offence. Besides the fact that any damages you decide to claim for will be rejected, it’s simply the human thing to do. Unless you’re blocking the flow of traffic, do not move your car until an officer has arrived on the scene and taken down details. Failing that, be sure to take clear photographs to mark the position of the vehicles before moving them, as well as the damage made. Ensure the scene is visible as a warning to other motorists – switch on your hazards and use your warning triangle. Assess the situation. Is anyone hurt? Yes? Proceed as follows: Do not move the injured person. Call the ambulance 10177 and take note of the street name and nearest corner of your location. Call the South African Police Service 10111 If you cannot remember the above numbers call the general emergency number 112 who will put you through to the relevant department No? Proceed as follows: See point 1. Exchange details with the other driver Full names ID number Residential address Telephone numbers Car registration number Description of vehicle: make, model, colour Insurance company details Note details of the accident Date and time Location Eyewitnesses Tow truck information Names and station of police officers After Leaving the Accident Scene As soon as possible: Report the accident within 24 hours at the nearest police station. This is especially important if the other party is not covered by insurance. You should receive an accident report number. Notify your insurance company – you will need to provide your policy number, accident report number, and all the detailed information you noted at the scene. Go for a medical check-up – high impact collisions can cause sudden jerks to your body affecting your internal organs and skeletal structure. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent so taking a little time off to do this is worth avoiding potential issues afterwards. Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, medical, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
17 February 2020
Your Guide to Credit Scores in South Africa
What is the Meaning of a Credit Score? In this tough economic time, many South Africans are turning to financial institutions such as banks and other money lenders for loans. A loan should never be seen as a quick-fix solution, and obtaining one is not as simple as 1-2-3. Lenders must be sure that they will get their money back, and one of the methods they use are credit scores. Your credit score indicates your past credit behaviour – this helps lenders determine how much of a risk you may be when it comes to paying the loan back. What influences a Credit Score? Credit scores are closely linked to your credit history – this is a record of your ability to repay debts and purchases made on credit. As a consumer, your creditworthiness is evaluated based on your credit history report. Your credit score is then determined based on the following key factors: The number and types of credit accounts you hold The length of your credit history The total amount you owe The amount of available credit that has been used How often you apply for new credit Your payment history What are the Credit Score Ranges? Credit scores range from 300 to 850. You want to aim for as high a score as possible as a good score will give you a better chance of your loan being approved and at a favourable rate. Individuals with below-average scores – 581 and lower – are seen as higher risk, therefore obtaining a loan will be extremely difficult or they will have to pay very high-interest rates. Credit score ranges 1 – 580 = Very high risk 581 – 599 = High risk 600 – 619 = Average risk 620 – 649 = Low risk 650 – 999 = Minimum risk How to Improve Your Credit Score It’s always best not to borrow money too frequently and only spend on purchases that are absolutely necessary. When the time comes that you do need to borrow money, it would be in your favour to have kept good spending habits. As with most things, keeping it simple can help you achieve your goal. Remember three basic rules: Keep credit cards to a minimum Always ensure your payments are made on time Never overspend In summary While your credit score is extremely important when applying for credit, you need to know that there are other factors just as critical – such as your affordability and income. The earlier you start building up a good credit history, the easier it will be for you to finance a car when the time comes. Read next: Vehicle Financing Without A Credit History Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
11 February 2020
Protect Your Car in Layers With Anti-Theft Devices
Stats SA reported that in 2018/19, there were an estimated 83,000 incidences of motor vehicle thefts, affecting 0,4% of South African households. High incidences of car theft are not unique to South Africa. In fact, research shows that even ‘safer’ countries like Canada have reported figures of 85,000 in 2017, while Australia experienced 53,564 vehicles stolen in 2018 or one every ten minutes. With so much risk of getting your car stolen every day, it doesn’t hurt to invest in some extra form of a preventative measure. These devices fall under two main categories, mechanical and electronic. We’ve featured the following devices to provide a range of price points. Mechanical Immobilisers Steering Wheel Locks If you want simplicity and affordability, at the lower price point, steering wheel locks are the perfect deal, costing around R300. These work by preventing a thief from turning the wheel of your car and are fairly effective thief deterrents. If you would like something on the upper end of the scale, add a zero for a Disklok where you can pay closer to the R3,000 mark. Brake or Clutch Locks These adopt a similar principle to steering wheel locks in that they require a key to lock it into place. Once locked, the device stops the car from being operational. Unlike the high visibility, a steering wheel lock offers, this one slots in place behind your car’s brake or clutch pedal. They range in price from about R300 – R1,000. Wheel Clamps Similar to what a policeman will do to your car when you park in a No Parking zone, wheel clamps immobilise a vehicle by preventing the wheel from turning. For the same reason that they’re not the most popular choice in this category as they require more time and effort to lock on, they are good deterrent because it takes more time and effort for a thief to remove, as well as the fact that they are highly visible. These can range in price between R400 – R600. Electronic Devices There are a host of electronic devices to consider for car security such as alarms, trackers, and cameras. The one that suits you best is likely the one that you can best afford. Here are our top picks: Dash Cams Short for ‘dashboard camera’, these on-board cameras are mounted on your car’s dashboard with the purpose of recording surrounding sounds and images whilst driving. More than just a camera, it is used to record accidents and incidents of theft to your vehicle. Prices can range between about R400 – R4,000. These days, dash cams also come in more discreet forms and sizes, like Garmin’s Dash Cam Mini, which is almost the same length of a car key, and retails for around R2,500. CarLock Tracking systems have been around for a long time with constant advances in the technology. One if the trackers on the forefront is CarLock, which uses GPS technology to track the movements and location of your car from an app on your smartphone. It also alerts you when it detects any vibrations off your car or when the engine has been switched on. Priced at around R5,000. Kill Switch Simple, effective, and cheap. When a thief tries to start the car by some other means other than the correct key, this device will stop the electric current from your car’s ignition to the fuel pump. It’s fairly easy to install and can be mounted anywhere that is a good hiding place. Retails for around R110 – R1,110 depending on how sophisticated you want to get. In summary Any anti-theft device is limited in its own way and should be seen as just one layer of protection. Basic devices like these, whether mechanical or electronic is not theft-proof and you shouldn’t depend entirely on them to protect your car. Instead, use them in conjunction with more advanced security systems like Datadot or other tracking devices. Read next: Why Comprehensive Car insurance is important Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
04 February 2020
A Guide to ISOfix
If you’re a new parent you might already have heard of the strange acronym being thrown around in car safety features. You wouldn’t want to compromise on the safety of your child and would need reassurance that you’re making informed choices. So is ISOfix safer than seat belts? What is ISOfix? Before the ISOfix system was introduced, parents had to buckle up your child in car seats with seat belts. The problem with this method is that there was some risk of the seat belt not being properly secured. Another issue was whether the seat belt was adequate safety for this purpose. ISOfix is a simple and easy ‘click-in’ method of installing child restraints in a vehicle securely. It uses metal bars that are attached to the car’s chassis, with metal connectors that your child seat fixes into. For extra precaution, ISOfix includes green and red indicators so that you know for sure that the seats are latched in properly. Why is it called ISOfix? The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is based in Switzerland and develops international standards that support innovation and provides a solution to global challenges. Standardisation and world-class specifications ensure quality, safety, and efficiency to products. Fix: (verb) To fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position. How to check if your car has ISOfix Globally, the ISOfix system was first introduced in 1997 and became mandatory in certain parts of the world for vehicles launched after November 2014. This is not the case in South Africa where not all cars come with the ISOfix mounting system yet and only some models have them installed as a standard feature. Usually, the anchor points are installed in the rear seat of a vehicle. You can check for the ISOfix labels or running your hand between the gap of the rear car seats where the base and backrest join. In other cases, the fitting points may be visible. 3 different types of ISOfix bases Most ISOfix infant car seats can have a separate base which is installed and fixed firmly into the car. Seats for toddlers mostly come with the base integrated. Once you’ve established your car has an ISOfix system installed and you’re ready to go shopping for a child seat, first check your vehicle owner’s manual what type of system you have: Universal – Three anchor points. Two-point connections and a top tether behind the car’s seat that anchors the child seat and stops it from twisting or lurching forward. Semi-Universal – Three anchor points. Two-point connections and a support leg instead of a top tether. Forward- and rear-facing system Vehicle-Specific – Two anchor points. Special features make it compatible only with specific vehicles. The downside of ISOfix While the benefits of this system are clear that it is safer than the old seat belt, there are a few disadvantages to consider: Less portable – since they are much heavier than a standard child car seat, it can be more difficult to swap between cars. More costly – an advanced system like this is going to be a fair amount more expensive than its poorer cousin. Less flexible – Unlike a standard child seat that can be used in any car along with a seat belt, ISOfix seats must be compatible with the system fitted with the car. Also, some ISOfix seats cannot be used with a seatbelt, so it may be a good idea to ensure you buy one that can if you want that flexibility. Angle – For parents with infants, because ISOfix seats are supposedly safer the more upright its position, your baby may not be able to support his head yet. A standard child car seat allows you to adjust for more comfortable sitting and sleeping angles. In summary While tests have proven that ISOfix is safer than seat belts in a collision, there are definitely pros and cons to both these child restraint systems. Fit and comfort are almost as important as safety, as it can go a long way in providing you with a less stressful drive. Read next: Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Auto Pedigree.
31 January 2020
Buy Your Next Car With Confidence
Does buying a car bring about mixed feelings of excitement, joy, dread, fear, frustration, and even depression? You’re not alone. Like many things in life – being a mother, opening a bank account, or saving for retirement – buying a car was never in the school curriculum. Arguably, only second to buying a house, buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases for a typical household to make. And that is why when you step onto the dealership floor you had better look like you know what you want, and how to get it! Know Your Needs Think of buying a car as if you are buying a practical pair of shoes. You’re not buying them on a whim, or because they’re too pretty to ignore, you’re buying them because you need them. So, determine what you will be using the car for by asking yourself the following questions: What will be its main purpose? Daily city driving, commuting between work and back, taxiing kids between school and activities? What will be its secondary purpose? Driving vacations, transporting goods? Calculate How Much You Can Afford No matter how much you love those shiny new wheels, the last thing you want is to empty your bank account so that that car is parked in your garage. When you know what your budget is you won’t be so easily swayed in buying a car you don’t actually need. Online calculators differ but are easy and convenient to use. They typically allow you to enter figures such as the price of the car, a deposit amount, and the repayment period – and then at the click of a button they’ll calculate your monthly premium. Do Your Homework With so many vehicle options to choose from within a given price range, how do you even begin to make a decision? Armed with Point 1: Know Your Needs, you’re already halfway there. Now what’s left is for you to do your research. The best place to start is within your own circle. Family, friends, and colleagues will likely give you their honest opinion, and the best thing is you’re hearing it first-hand. From their feedback, you’ll begin to form a picture in your mind of which car brands have the best reputation in terms of reputation, reliability, safety, parts availability, customer service, and more. Choosing a model and variant is where your budget and personal needs come in. But don’t let the amount of options daunt you – in fact, this can be loads of fun! Take some time to read reviews and watch test drive videos – these will also provide the necessary ammunition when you walk into a dealership with a particular car in mind. Bring on the Attitude You’ll no doubt find dozens of potential cars online that you’d like to test drive. Now that you’re geared up with self-knowledge – what your needs are, how much you can afford, and a good idea of what make and model you’re leaning towards – it’s time to visit a few car dealerships. You’re going to call up the dealers with a list of cars you would like to test drive. With each dealer, make an appointment for a specific date, and take note of the name of the salesperson. Turn up dressed for the occasion – this means comfortable in your own skin. When you arrive, smile, shake hands, look him in the eye, and say, “Hi, I’m Beyoncé, and I’m here to get a great deal.” Be firm about your price range, this in itself will help you come across as a confident car buyer. But what will really bowl them over is when you display your knowledge of cars and the jargon that comes with it. So, make sure you brush up on these. In Summary Most importantly, take your time. Be completely satisfied you’re buying the right car, at the right price. You will encounter a lot of hype, but remember the final decision is yours. So, own it. Disclaimer:This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Auto Pedigree.
31 January 2020
Vehicle Acronyms What Do They All Stand For?
With new technology comes new terminology. So, as women we’re not alone in trying to decipher what we’re dealing with when it comes to technical specifications and numerous other vehicle-related terms. This is an A-Z glossary of the more useful acronyms that you may find helpful whether you’re on the hunt for a new car or just getting to know your current one. ABS – Antilock Braking System An automatic computer-controlled system that prevents any of your car’s wheels from locking and tyres from skidding during an emergency brake. It also helps improve steering and minimises stopping distance. ACC – Adaptive Cruise Control A.k.a. Intelligent Cruise Control, this is an automated laser- or radar-sensing cruise control management system that monitors traffic ahead of you and alters your car’s speed in order to avoid collisions in front. AEB – Autonomous Emergency Braking This system uses radar to act independently of the driver in an emergency situation. It recognises an imminent collision and intervenes by applying the brakes to avoid an accident. AT – Automatic transmission A gearbox that can shift through gears automatically is one that is the opposite of a manual transmission gearbox. It requires no gearshift or clutch pedal. AWD – All-Wheel Drive Contrary to popular belief, AWD is not the same as 4WD. Technically the term refers to a vehicle that is driven on all its wheels, some of which may have six, eight, or more wheels, and are generally suited for road-going vehicles such as large trucks or buses where AWD provides extra grip on road surfaces. See 4WD > 4WD – Four-Wheel Drive Suitable for slippery off-roading, the two main types are: Permanent 4WD – All four wheels receive equal available engine power. With 4WD you cannot switch to regular two-wheel drive. Part-time 4WD – The default setting is two-wheel drive, which is suitable for tarred roads, and four-wheel drive must be physically engaged. BHP – Brake Horsepower This is the horsepower of an engine measured by the resistance of the brake and is the standard unit measurement of the power of an engine. Usually, the higher the BHP, the higher its top speed and acceleration. DRL – Daytime Running Lights These low energy lights switch on automatically when you start up to increase the visibility of your car to other road users. DSC – Dynamic Stability Control See ESC (Electronic Stability Control) or ESP (Electronic Stability Programme). ESC – Electronic Stability Control A.k.a. DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) or ESP (Electronic Stability Programme). When a loss of steering control is detected, the programme applies the brakes to a particular wheel to combat understeer or oversteer. ESP – Electronic Stability Programme See ESC (Electronic Stability Programme). EV – Electric Vehicle Any type of vehicle that is primarily powered by an electric motor, from Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs) to hybrids. FSH – Full Service History A car that has had a full log of regular servicing and maintenance including annual service stamps from approved service outlets in its service log book. FWD – Front Wheel Drive Only the front wheels of the car receive engine power and torque. GPS – Global Positioning System A car’s satellite navigation system uses this network of satellites that provides the information on location and time. GT – Grand Tourer Especially engineered for long-distance driving and are often luxury and high-performance vehicles. HUD – Heads-Up Display A transparent digital display that is projected from a vehicle’s dashboard onto its windshield to provide information within the driver’s direct line of sight. HP – Horsepower A standard unit measurement of an engine’s work rate calculated with torque (twisting force) multiplied by speed (how fast it is spinning). PSI – Pounds Per Square Inch A measurement of air pressure used for a car’s tyre inflation. RWD – Rear Wheel Drive Where engine power is channelled to the vehicle’s rear wheels only. SUV – Sports Utility Vehicle A tall, relatively large vehicle with some levels of off-road capability, most of which have four-wheel drive, though not all do. TSR – Tyre Speed Rating Indicates the maximum speed the tyre can safely sustain for a ten-minute period. VIN – Vehicle Identification Number A unique 17-digit code that act as the vehicle’s fingerprint and each digit have particular identifiers such as country of origin or model year. It is designated to the vehicle during manufacturing and used to keep a record of the vehicle. Older vehicles may still have 16-character numbers. ZEV – Zero Emissions Vehicle A vehicle that emits no exhaust gas from the on-board source of power. It’s all about buying a car with confidence, so arm yourself with these commonly used acronyms and you’ll no longer feel lost when a car dealer tries to pull the wool over your eyes. Also see our list of common terms >
31 January 2020
An A - Z of Vehicle Terminology
When you’re out on the market for a new car do you often feel like you should really know what all the fancy terms and acronyms that are casually thrown about are? Whether you’re fairly versed or completely clueless, you certainly don’t need to be an expert – but having a basic understanding of the main terms and specifications and how they affect you can help you make better car-buying decisions. Adaptive headlights These headlights are an active safety feature that turn as you turn the steering wheel around corners. It improves illumination and increases visibility in the direction of the turn and over hills. Aerodynamic drag This is the force that, in the case of a car that is moving, is exerted by the flow field of oncoming air. The moving car displaces the air and the air offers resistance or friction to the moving car. Automatic Gearbox The opposite of a manual gearbox, more commonly known as automatic transmission. An ‘automatic car’ will select gear ratios for you as you accelerate and decelerate the vehicle, freeing you up from constantly shifting the gearstick. Aux-in ‘Aux’ is short for ‘auxiliary’ and refers to an audio connection. An aux-in socket in your car connects devices such as your mobile phone, tablet, or other device that has a standard headphone connection, to your car’s inbuilt speakers. Bluetooth This wireless technology allows compatible devices within range to connect and communicate with each other. The main use of Bluetooth in your car is that it allows you to drive while operating your phone ‘hands-free’. Compatibility is an important factor to consider, since this can vary between different cars and devices. Brake Assist This electronically controlled safety system helps you apply the right amount of pressure to the brake pedal during an emergency panic stop situation. It maximises brake efficiency if a driver fails to apply enough force. Cabriolet A.k.a. a convertible, this type of passenger car is fitted with a soft-top roof that can be folded down, allowing the car to be driven open-air as desired. Catalytic Converter This is a canister fitted into your car’s exhaust system which reacts chemically with the harmful exhaust gases (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons) and helps reduce harmful emissions. Chassis This main structure is the backbone of the vehicle and supports major components including the steering system, suspension system, engine, wheels, gearbox, and radiator. City fuel economy Using standardised tests, car manufacturers provide a fuel economy figure for new cars in litres per 100km for urban, open-roads, and a combination of the two. Note that the supplied figures are not meant to be used for calculating your own expected fuel costs, but rather as a comparison between the different models. Climate control A sophisticated computer-controlled type of air-conditioning system that allows the driver or passenger in a car to set the specified temperature required, in order for the climate control system to adjust the temperature in the car’s interior accordingly. Compression ratio Every engine has a specific compression ratio (CR). The higher the compression ratio, the more efficient the combustion process, the more power generated, and with less fuel and therefore fewer exhaust gases. Console This is part of the interior of a car and its location is typically between seats or in the front centre behind the gearstick. It can come with a range of various features, including a power outlet for charging devices, cup holders, and other additional storage. Coupé A sporty two-door vehicle that has a fixed roof and characterised by its low height, sloping rear. Crossover This is a type of SUV (sport utility vehicle) built on a structure where the frame and body is in one piece (a ‘unibody’ construction). Its platform is based on a standard passenger car, giving them better comfort and fuel efficiency than SUVs, but with less off-road capability. Cruise control This automatic vehicle cruise system helps to keep the car’s travelling speed constant. You can choose when to engage the cruise control feature. Fuel injection This is a computerised system that that mixes the fuel and air and delivers a high-pressure fuel stream directly to the combustion chamber of each cylinder in a car’s engine. Fuel injection systems began replacing carburettors in petrol engines in the late 1980s. Handling This describes how responsive and accurate your car’s steering is, or how it responds on the turns and bends. Good handling is important to remain in control at high speeds. Horsepower This unit of measurement is used to describe the power of your car’s engine. The higher the horsepower, the more power and ability there is to push a car to faster speeds. Hybrid This type of car uses more than one type of power for propulsion, such as a car that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor. Hybrids are more energy-efficient and emit less C02 than conventional petrol or diesel-driven vehicles. Immobiliser This electronic security device is fitted into most newer car models. It decreases the risk of your car from being stolen by preventing the engine from starting up without the correct key or token. Isofix This alternative to securing child car seats with a seatbelt. It is an international standard attachment that provides a quick and easy but safe way to install a child seat into a car. The system permits the use of a compliant car seat to be fitted into a vehicle and fixed to anchor points without the use of a seatbelt. Kilowatt Equal to one thousand watts, the kilowatt (kW) is a metric used to measure power. In the case of a car, this unit of measurement expresses an engine’s energy output – the higher the kW, the faster the car will be able to accelerate. Kerb weight This is the weight of your vehicle in running condition that includes all fluids such as engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, water, and fuel, but does not include passengers or cargo. Keyless entry Most modern cars are fitted with this system which allows you to unlock your car doors without the need to insert a key into the lock with the use of a remote-controlled transmitter. Keyless ignition Much like keyless entry, this system allows you to start your car without the need to insert a key into the ignition. Instead, once you’re inside, the car can be started at the push of a button, or a small key fob transmits a computer code as an instruction. List price A.k.a. the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), this is the cost you would pay for a new car of a particular model before any depreciation takes place. Marque This is the brand name of a range of cars, which may not necessarily be the same as the manufacturer. For example, BMW manufactures and owns MINI, but MINI’s marque remains MINI. Modifications Modifications are changes made to a car to improve its performance, aesthetics, or functional aspects such as bodywork, engine, wheels, or any other part so that it differs from the manufacturer’s original factory state. Power steering A power-assisted steering system uses an engine’s power to help a driver to more easily steer the car. Segment Vehicle segments are a categorisation of groupings of car models ranging from hatchbacks, super-minis, SUVs, and luxury cars. Technical specifications Specifications are an at-a-glance list of facts and figures about aspects of a vehicle, such as the engine, cylinders, displacement, transmission, horsepower, torque, drivetrain, suspension, fuel tank capacity, etc. Telematics This method of vehicle monitoring uses wireless devices to transmit data in real time back to an organisation – this data is used to record and map the location of a vehicle and its travelling speed. Traction Control This safety system optimises your car’s grip and stability on the road, minimising wheel spin during acceleration even on slippery surfaces. Torque Not to be confused with horsepower, which measures an engine’s power output, torque measures an engine’s turning power, which is indicated in Newton metres (Nm) and is a good measure of how quickly a car will accelerate. Trim Trim levels refer to different versions of a vehicle model that come equipped with a standard combination of features. For example, take a 2019 Honda Jazz – in 2019 Honda produces five trim levels in the form of S, SE, SE Navi, EX and EX Navi, with the entry-level trim ‘S’ having the least amount of features and equipment. Variant Think of variant as variety within the same vehicle. One model of the same car may give you different options to choose from, such as engine size or number of doors. For example, Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec comes in hatchback and Audi A3 1.0 TFSI offers a three-cylinder engine