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Radiator Terms Definitions
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AAA
Abbreviation for the American Automobile Association. AAA, in conjunction with various local motor clubs, often certifies various repair facilities. The approved facilities must meet certain minimum standards of service to be listed in the local AAA direc
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AAMA
American Automobile Manufacturers Association. The AAMA consists of GM, Ford and Chrysler and is the trade organization for these manufacturers. AAMA requests upgraded engine oil performance as necessary and works with the oil industry to introduce new ca
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ABS/Antilock Braking System
Also known as anti skid brakes, modern ABS systems electronically monitor the speed of the wheels and regulate the hydraulic pressure accordingly. The aim is to maximize braking power while preventing the wheels from locking and skidding.
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Accumulator-Dryer
A container for receiving refrigerant liquid, vapor and oil from the evaporator. Its primary function is to separate the vapor from the liquid and oil, then release the vapor to the compressor. The accumulator also contains desiccant to absorb moisture.
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ACEA
Association of European Automobile Manufacturers. The ACEA works to establish lubricant performance categories in Europe. ACEA replaced CCMC, which disbanded in 1990.
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Ackerman Principle
The creation of toe-out when turning to minimize tire wear. To create the proper geometry, the steering arms are angled to turn the inside wheel at a sharper angle than the outside wheel. This allows the inside wheel to follow a smaller radius circle than
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Active Suspensions
A computerized hydraulic suspension system that uses hydraulic "actuators" instead of conventional springs and shock absorbers to support the vehicle's weight. A "chassis computer" monitors ride height, wheel deflection, body roll and acceleration to cont
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Additive
A chemical added in small quantities to a petroleum product to improve certain chemical or physical properties.
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After Market Component
Automotive replacement component provided by a company other than the original equipment supplier.
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Air Conditioning (A/C)
A system that cools and dehumidifies air entering the passenger compartment. The system uses a refrigerant to cool the air and carry heat away from the passenger compartment. Major system components include a compressor, condenser, evaporator, accumulator
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Air Delivery System
Also called plenum, HVAC unit or evaporator housing. This component contains the air ducts, doors and blower fan that deliver air through or around the evaporator and heater cores. It then delivers air to various passenger compartment outlets and ducts.
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Air Filter
A filter that prevents dirt and debris from air entering the engine.
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Air Injection
One method of reducing harmful exhaust emissions by injecting air into each of the exhaust ports of an engine. The fresh air entering the hot exhaust manifold causes. any remaining fuel to be burned before it can exit the tailpipe.
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Air Inlet Door
A movable door in the air distribution assembly that allows either passenger compartment or outside air to be delivered to the air conditioning air distribution system.
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Air Pump
An emission control device on some engines that pumps air into the exhaust system so the catalytic converter can "reburn" pollutants in the exhaust.
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Air Shocks
A type of overload shock absorber that can be inflated with air to increase the suspension's load carrying ability.
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Air Springs
Air-filled rubber or elastomer bags that are pressurized to provide support to the suspension. Air springs are used in place of conventional coil springs on some vehicles. Aftermarket air springs can be installed inside coil springs or between the axle an
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Air Suspension
A type of suspension that uses air springs instead of conventional steel springs. Computer operated vents on the air springs, suspension sensors and an onboard air compressor allow the system to maintain ride height and vary the suspension's ride characte
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Air/Fuel Ratio
The ratio of air-to-gasoline by weight in the fuel mixture drawn into the engine.
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Airflow Sensor
A device that's used in many electronic fuel injection systems for measuring the volume of air entering the engine. Some use a spring-loaded vane while others use a hot wire or heated filament to sense air flow.
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Alcohol
Alcohol is used as a gasoline additive to boost the octane rating of the fuel (See Octane and Gasohol) and to oxygenate the fuel (makes it burn cleaner). Two types of alcohol may be used: ethanol or methanol. Ethanol is the most commonly used alcohol. It
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Alignment
The checking and adjustment of caster, camber and toe angles in a vehicle's suspension to maintain specifications engineered by the vehicle manufacturer for optimum performance.
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Alignment Shims
Metal or plastic spacers used in the alignment process to alter camber, caster and/or toe. On rear-wheel drive applications, shims may be added to or removed from stacks of shims on the front control arms to change camber and/or caster. On front-wheel dr
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Alloy Wheel
Any road wheel composed of either aluminum or magnesium as opposed to steel. Sometimes referred to as "mag" wheel.
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All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
A vehicle (usually a car) where all four wheels are driven. Most are fulltime systems for year-round driving, and use a viscous fluid coupling center differential instead of a transfer case to route drive torque to all four wheels. This allows the front a
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Alternator
A device used for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.
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Ambient Air
Air outside the vehicle passenger compartment.
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Ambient Compressor Switch
Energizes the compressor clutch when ambient air temperature is above 32 degrees F. This switch also prevents compressor clutch engagement at temperatures below 32 degrees F.
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Ammeter
An instrument, calibrated in amperes, used to measure the flow of an electrical current in a circuit. Ammeters are always connected in series with the circuit being tested.
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Ampere
The rate of flow of electrical current present when one volt of electrical pressure is applied against one ohm of electrical resistance.
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Anti-Foam Agents
Chemicals added to oils to reduce air and foaming tendency.
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Antifreeze
Antifreeze protects the cooling system against both freezing and boiling over. When used at normal strength (50% antifreeze, 50% water), it can lower the freezing point of the coolant to -34 degrees F. and raise its boiling temperature to 276 degrees F. N
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Anti-Knock Agents
A chemical (usually tetraethyl lead) added to gasoline to raise its octane number and reduce its tendency to detonate, knock or ping. Tetraethyl lead agents should not be used with unleaded gasoline due to possible environmental dangers.
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Anti-Oxidant Agents
Chemicals added to the engine to prevent engine deposits, sludge and oil thickening.
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Anti-Wear Agents
Chemicals added to the engine to prevent engine deposits, sludge and oil thickening.
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API
American Petroleum Institute. Trade association responsible for defining and identifying individual performance categories in a non-technical manner and describing these categories in non-technical terms to the motor oil consumer.
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API CD
Service category that denotes the ability of motor oil to resist high-temperature piston deposits, ring sticking and thermal breakdown. API CD became obsolete Jan. 1, 1996.
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API CD-II
Service category that denotes service typical of two-stroke cycle diesel engines that require highly effective control of wear and deposits. Oils designed for this service also meet all performance requirements of API Service Category CD. API CD-II became
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API CE
Denotes service typical of turbocharged or supercharged heavy-duty diesel engines manufactured since 1983 and operated under both low-speed, high-load and high-speed, high-load conditions. API CE became obsolete Jan. 1, 1996.
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API CF
Denotes service typical of off-road indirect injection diesel engines and other diesel engines that use a broad range of fuel types including those using fuel with higher sulfur content, for example, over 0.5 percent weight. Oils designated for this serv
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API CF-2
Denotes service typical of two-stroke cycle engines requiring highly effective control over cylinder and ring-face scuffing and deposits. Oils designated for this service have been in existence since l994 and may also be used when API Service Category CD-
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API CG-4
Official service category as of category Jan. 1, 1996, denotes engine oils suitable for 1994 low-emission, four-stroke diesel engines. API CG-4 engine oils afford improved deposit and wear control protection for these engines.
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API Donut
A symbol introduced by API in 1983 to be placed on motor oil containers. This symbol was designed to benefit the consumer by placing all the necessary information (i.e., API Service Categories, SAE Viscosity Grade) in one location, serving to consolidate
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API SG
Denotes service typical of recent gasoline engines and some diesel engines in recommended maintenance procedures. API SG has been superseded by API SH and became obsolete Jan. 1, 1996.
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API SH
Adopted in 1992 for describing engine oil first mandated in 1993. This oil is for use in service typical of gasoline engines in current and earlier passenger cars, van and light truck operations under vehicle manufacturers' recommended maintenance procedu
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Armature
A laminated, soft iron core wrapped by a wire that converts electrical energy to mechanical energy as in a motor or relay. When rotated in a magnetic field, it changes mechanical energy into electrical energy as in a generator.
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ASE
Abbreviation for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certifies professional automotive technicians in various areas of repair expertise. A technician who has passed one or more tests is allowed to wear the ASE Blue Seal of Excell
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Aspect Ratio
The relationship between the section height and section width of a tire expressed as a percentage of section width. If the section height is one half the section width, the aspect ratio is 50%.
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Aspirator Valve
A one-way valve attached to the exhaust system of an engine that admits air during periods of vacuum between exhaust pressure pulses. Used to help oxidize HC and CO, and to supply additional air which the catalytic converter may require. Can be used inste
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Atmospheric Pressure
The pressure on the Earth's surface caused by the weight of the air in the atmosphere. At sea level, this pressure is 14.7 psi at 32OF (101 kPa at O"C).
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Atomization
The breaking down of a liquid into a fine mist that can be suspended in air.
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Automatic Transmission
A type of transmission that shifts itself. A fluid coupling or torque converter is used instead of a manually operated clutch to connect the transmission to the engine. Newer automatics use electronic controls to regulate shifting and torque converter loc
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Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
A type of transmission that shifts itself. A fluid coupling or torque converter is used instead of a manually operated clutch to connect the transmission to the engine. Newer automatics use electronic controls to regulate shifting and torque converter loc
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Automatically Adjusting Brakes
A system designed to compensate for wear by adjusting brake shoes or calipers automatically.
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Axial Play
Movement parallel to a shaft or bearing bore.
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Axle, Front
A crossbeam that supports the weight of the vehicle (typically a truck) and is connected to the spindles with king pins.
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Axle, Rear
May refer to the drive axles that connect both rear wheels to a center differential in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, or a crossbeam that connects both rear wheels and supports the rear of the vehicle in a front-wheel drive application.
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Azeotrope
Refers to a blend of two or more refrigerants that will not separate fractionate) and have different temperature and pressure characteristics than any of the separate ingredients.
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