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4 Car Terms to Know for Your Next Garage Visit

Car Terms

Knowing the right car terms can keep you from feeling overwhelmed the next time you visit your garage for a repair. Let’s take a look at four of the terms that come up the most often when talking to your mechanic about a repair.


“Remanufactured” is one of the car terms you’re likely to encounter when trying to choose a part for particular repair. Much of the time, when a defective car part is removed from a vehicle, it can be sent away to be remanufactured, which means returned to as-new condition — at least, in terms of how it operates. Remanufactured parts often have the same warranties as they did when new, and they’re usually much cheaper. They’re typically a safe bet to use if you want to save money on a repair, and you can even turn in your old, broken part as a “core” to be repaired (sometimes with a credit back on your purchase price). One commonly remanufactured item is the engine itself.


Engine bay“Tune-up” is one of those car terms you see advertised at every garage, but it doesn’t always mean the same thing. You need to ask specifically what’s included if this service is offered to you. Traditionally, a tune-up replaces common wear items and fluids, including spark plugs, engine oil and air filter, as well as an inspection to determine if anything else under the hood (belts, hoses, etc.) is on its way out. Find out exactly what the mechanic intends to do if a general tune-up is recommended, and ask the reasoning behind the decision.


Synthetic fluids are now common in modern cars — the term simply refers to products that have been refined to the point where they meet specific performance requirements. This can mean heat resistance and endurance over time, as well as the types of included additives. Synthetic is most often used in relation to oil, but it often comes with a higher price. Synthetic oils have their benefits, especially if you drive your car on a race track or tow heavy loads on a regular basis. When in doubt, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for oils and fluids.


If your car needs body repair after a fender bender, then you’ve probably heard “jobber” in your shop conversations. Jobber parts are replicas of factory parts, and they’re much less expensive than ones sourced directly from the manufacturer. Sometimes, jobber parts don’t have exactly the same fit as an original replacement panel or they might be built from thinner steel, but in most cases they’re affordable alternatives to pricey original equipment manufacturer (OEM) pieces. If your insurance company is paying, you almost always have the right to insist on original parts, but if you’re paying out-of-pocket, consider jobber panels to lower the impact on your bank account.

Knowing these terms helps you gain a better understanding of what type of work is being proposed for your vehicle, the kind of parts that will be used and whether you really need to go all-in on a given job.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car terms you’ll hear at the garage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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