Exclusive: Drivers baffled by car jargon, survey reveals

Industry must redouble efforts to use plain English

Car buyers baffled

JARGON USED by the motor industry is causing car buyers to make costly mistakes when purchasing new and used cars, a survey by The Sunday Times Driving and Esure has discovered.

Of the 5,047 people who responded to the survey on driving.co.uk a shocking 324 admitted they had bought a car that wasn’t right for them because they didn’t understand the jargon the salesman used, or that was in the brochure.

Terms such as BHP, MPG and SUV all caused car buyers problems, with 57% of respondents (2,880) admitting they found motoring jargon confusing. For example, while 82% (4,156) knew that “BHP” refers to an engine’s power output, more than 17% thought it related to the power of a car’s brakes (757 respondents) and even to fuel economy (124).

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An even larger percentage was baffled by the term “Crossover”, which is a type of Sports Utility Vehicle or “soft roader”, a vehicle that is built on the same underpinnings as another in the manufacturer’s range; typically a family car. More than a fifth of respondents, or 1,032 people, believed the term described the act of turning right across on-coming traffic. A further 184 believed it is what happens when you drive through a crossroads.

“Crossover” is a relatively recent addition to the motoring lexicon, so it’s perhaps not surprising that many car buyers are unaware of what it means.

Driving.co.uk is one of the most user-friendly car websites available but as a result of the survey it has included more links to its helpful “Jargon Buster” glossary of terms, which is constantly refined and updated with new definitions. At the same time, it is reviewing the language it uses to help minimise any unnecessary jargon, both within its classifieds and editorial sections.


 Jargon survey results

Jargon survey results


Don’t know your BHPs from your MPVs? Click to take a look at our car jargon buster