Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101

What is Slang of the Car Enthusiast?

Back in December, we defined basic car terminology, but this time we’re going to explain the slang of the car enthusiast! These are terms that get thrown around by motorheads, tuner cultists, and self-proclaimed grease monkeys. Whether you prefer your cars to be loud, proud, and fast or you prefer your cars low, mean, and aggressive; this article is for the novice car enthusiast who is still trying to learn what the difference between a turbo and a supercharger is.


A supercharger is a device driven by a belt connecting to the engine of a car. This device compresses air and forces it into the cylinders of the engine. This higher concentration of oxygen in the cylinder causes a higher power output from the engine. This increase in power can be up to 46% the cars original horsepower! Turbochargers can decrease fuel efficiency and require power from the engine.

Superchargers are important to American muscle cars. Superchargers helped define what made the muscle cars of the 1960s so iconic in car culture.


The turbocharger, or turbo is very similar in function as the supercharger. The turbo, on the other hand, does not rely on the engine to function. The exhaust gas from the engine pumps past a turbine in the turbocharger that spins an additional turbine that sucks up fresh air and compresses it. That air passes through a intercooler that cools the air before entering the cylinders of the engine. Wash, rinse, repeat and you can get an additional 15-25% increase in overall horsepower!

Turbochargers are becoming more and more popular because of how efficient and relatively easy they are to install. They are prevalent with the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) cars because of the small stature of the cars and the desire to squeeze every horsepower out of these cars as possible.

Turbo Lag

This one sounds funny but is relatively simple. Basically, a turbocharger needs to be spinning at a specific RPM before it can start pumping compressed air into the cylinders of the engine. Once the turbo starts spinning, the time between when the turbo begins compression and when the turbo reaches full pressure, is known as turbo spooling.


Tuner mechanic with computer image for Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101 blog by

So, you might be asking what kind of person actually cars about these things? Well, the answer to that would be tuners. Tuners are car enthusiasts who obsess over getting the most horsepower, the most speed, etc. out of their car. They achieve this by adjusting different components of their car. These include; finding optimal gas-to-oxygen ratios within cylinder, optimal valve timing, optimal ignition timing and so on. Those terms will have to be for a different edition of Car Lingo 101!


Camber diagram for Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101 blog by

Camber is a simple term meaning the angle that the tires are sitting when the car is in park. When the top of the tire points inwards towards the car, the camber is negative. If the top and bottom of the tire are completely even and make complete contact with the pavement, then the camber is neutral. If the top of the tire points outwards away from the car, then the camber is positive.


Slammed Chevy Truck for Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101 blog by

Similar to lowriders, slammed cars take that lowered look to a new extreme! When a car is slammed, the tires are tucked into the wheel well to lower the car as close to the ground as possible. The car often sits only a few inches from the road. If there is no room in the wheel well, the camber is negatively adjusted to have the wheels fit into the wheel well easier and create the same lowered look.


Negative camber image for Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101 blog by

While this term is often a debate among car enthusiasts as being a more general term for the way that a car sits when standing still, stanced cars tend to refer to something else. When a car is stanced, it often means that the car is lowered, or slammed, and has an intensely negative camber. This style is very polarizing within car culture but is popular among younger car enthusiasts. This polarization in car culture is because of the stress and potential damage a stanced car can do to the oil pan and chassis of the car. Not to mention the totally uneven wear on the tires of stanced car. It is also a particularly new trend and many older enthusiasts say it makes the car look “lazy” or slow.


Black Mercury Marauder for Slang for Car Enthusiasts blog by

Sleepers are cars that look timid, boring, unassuming, or just seem slow. These cars’ builds contain surprising modifications by their manufacturers, or contain modifications from car enthusiasts creating unassuming, high-powered monstrosities that look slow. But for a sleeper, it’s all about what’s on the inside that counts. Sleepers are cars that seem like boring family cars, grandma’s daily driver, or just unbelievably unexciting on the outside. These cars’ designs aren’t by manufacturers whose names are synonymous with racing or speed. Volvo, Mercury, Ford, Volkswagen are all typical makes for sleeper cars.

Power-to-Weight Ratio

R32 VW Engine for Slang of the Car Enthusiast: Car Lingo 101 blog by

A light car with a big engine goes fast. A heavy car with a small engine goes slow. This is the simplest way to explain power-to-weight ratio. The simplest way to calculate this is to simply divide the power, or horsepower as defined in this article, by the weight of the car. This tells you how much horsepower per pound of car there is. The higher the number, the better the performance of the car.

Why Should You Know the Slang of a Car Enthusiast?

Knowing the way that other car enthusiasts talk is important because it will help you bond with other lovers of cars. After reading this article, you’ve decided that you are ready to buy your first project car, we know someone who could help you out. If you have an old, broken-down, unwanted, and unexciting car sitting around, CashForCars wants to give you cash for it! That cash can fuel your new passion and help get the project car of your dreams! The process is easy! Go here and fill out our online instant quote and see what you could get for your boring car! We make it easy by picking up your car in 24 hours or less and you get cash for the car of your dreams!

Want to Read More?

You can check out our previous article about The Easiest Cars to Work On here!

If you like blogs about cars and trucks, check out these blogs as well!
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