By on November 24, 2008

In a post I wrote today for Autofiends, I mentioned that I am so tired of hearing a car described as “handling like it’s on rails.” In part, it’s often because the people that use this term have no idea what they’re talking about, or in other cases are just wrong. Very, very few cars are level in turns and have enough grip to have no under or oversteer in moderate-speed driving. Still, the term is out there, and I’ve heard it (ab)used to describe everything from a Dodge Challenger to an E39 BMW 528i to the Mitsubishi Lancer.  My runners up include: dubs, bling, concerns about a regular street car’s top speed, and “car guys.” When it comes to automotive journalism – or just chatting with people that really swear they are “gearheads” – what gives you the red ass?

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115 Comments on “Question of the Day 2: Which Car Jargon/Phrase Annoys You the Most?...”


  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    This phrase, which I see alot on Autoblog and sometimes TTAC when a new car is introduced: “I’d buy it if it had a manual diesel wagon version.”

    or…

    “Make it a hatchback and then I’d consider.”

    Pbt.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Saved by Zero

  • avatar

    I was going to say, “corners as if it’s on rails,” but then I noticed that you beat me to it.

  • avatar
    dean

    Personally, I’m sick of “D2.8” or “Big 2.8”.

    It would appear that I won’t have to put up with that for much longer.

  • avatar
    maximilen

    “If your car feels like it’s on rails, you’re going too slow…” -Truer words were never spoken.

  • avatar
    redrum

    All the car commercials lauding models as “fuel efficient” even though they’re only quoting their highway MPG and it’s not very good when compared to the competition. Dodge especially comes to mind. “Try out the 29 mpg fuel efficient Dodge Caliber!” when it’s actually pretty shocking that it can’t even hit 30 mpg.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    “Soft touch plastics”

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’m tired of reading, “At less than $XX,000, the (model name) is a great example of a ‘poor man’s BMW/Mercedes/Porsche/etc.\'”

  • avatar
    ajla

    1.”My 19xx Model XYZ gets 58mpg around town while towing/flooring it/having 400 horsepower!”

    2. Claiming that one automaker “gets it” because you like what they build.

    3. Calling a vehicle a penis or ego substitute.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    OK… I’ll admit… I’ve had a couple/few/several/not nearly enough bourbons 2nite…

    Itsa loan not a bailout…

    From back inda day: “Precision sized” Granada/Monarchs

    The Chevette’s “European [amber turn signals] tailights”.

    Drive 55 bring ’em back alive!

    Road hugging weight

    –verBalkInT

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    1. “Gas-guzzler” or “gas-guzzling”. Whether it’s true or not, automotive writers need to come-up with something a bit more original. I rarely see the word (acronym) SUV in print anymore without it being preceeded by “gas-guzzling”.

    2. “backstop”. This isn’t an automotive term specifically, except in the political sense. If one could summarize 2008 into one word, this would be it.

  • avatar
    rjones

    Here’s what pisses me off: The first paragraph of *every* review of a diesel car I’ve read in the last five years, since it invariably rehashes the same four points:

    – Diesels used to be slow and sluggish, but not anymore
    – Diesels used to emit huge clouds of black smoke, but not anymore(*)
    – Diesels generate more torque and less hp than gassers, and get better fuel economy
    – Europeans buy a lot of diesels

    (*) Not if you change your injectors regularly they don’t

    OK! Enough already! We *get* it!

    BTW, I’m not slagging diesels; I’m a former Jetta turbo diesel owner (though I’m happy to slag VW for their quality issues…)

  • avatar

    pistonhead

  • avatar
    mikey

    This is easy “BADGE ENGINEERING” and in second place “CRAPTASTIC”.Whatever impact the words once had are long gone.Over use will do that.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    1/”Just sayin’.”

    2/”A whole bowl of notgood.com…”

    3/Any piece of text that uses strikeouts.

    4/”cough–Aveo [or whatever]–cough…”

    5/”I’m looking at you, GM…”

    6/”It looks like a Ford Focus that was rear-ended by a 3-Series while being T-boned by a Mazda3…” or any other facile cut-and-paste of car designs.

    I could go on, but we’re immersed in chiches here at ttac. Can’t anybody think of anything original to write? Think, don’t type. THINK.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    Probably just me, but whenever somebody refers to wheels and tires, they use the word “wrapped.” As in, “18” wheels wrapped in xyz tires.” Not sure why, but it just seems odd to me, and it bothers me for some reason.

    I also don’t like car enthusiasts constantly being referred to as “pistonheads” but that probably has more to do with the multiple rotary-engined cars in my garage, one wearing the plate NOPSTNS.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I don’t like how the first paragraph of every car review has to end with a question. Usually asking whether it’s as good as a 3 series or Accord, or whether it’s the best bang for a certain amount of buck. You don’t need to pose a question, just tell us about the car. This is how every car review should start off:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/nissan-versa/

  • avatar
    NickR

    Climate control. It is not. It is air conditioning.

    Referring to tires as ‘meats’.

    Referring to a car as having either ‘pavement wrinkling torque’ or referring to it as a ‘ground-pounder’.

    Calling brakes ‘binders’.

    As an aside, all classified ads that feature the phrase ‘as is’ should have ‘POS’ subbed in automatically.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Romanjetfighter:

    Hopefully when Subaru rolls into the USDM with their diesel all of us three pedal oil-burning wagon freaks can enjoy a nice warm glass of SHUT THE HELL UP!

  • avatar
    Loser

    1. “Kicked it into overdrive”
    2. “…Or not”

  • avatar
    maniceightball

    NickR — I might be wrong on this, but my understanding is that climate control is a fancy way of saying “car thermostat” where you control it by setting a target temperature, whereas air con is straight on-off with a few levels of fan speed.

  • avatar
    Chgomatt

    “ish”
    “But wait..There’s less!’
    That dog won’t hunt”

  • avatar
    volvo

    “Only one at this price”

  • avatar
    Sutures

    “Design DNA” needs to be euthanized!

  • avatar
    Tommy231

    When referring to a mixture a gasoline and alcohol as “gasohol”.

    When referring to an automatic transmission as a “slush box”.

    And my all-time pet peeve… referring to a conventional differential by saying “It doesn’t have a posi, it only has limited slip”.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    From days gone by – “I floored it and it kicked in to passing gear”

    Because of that, I thought transmissions actually had another gear just for passing until I got more interested in technical aspects of cars at about age 13.

    People who, when talking about their truck’s towing prowess (usually not even a “heavy duty” model) say they “can’t even tell a trailer is back there”. I’m sorry, but I don’t care if you are pulling a 700 lb ATV – if you can’t tell the trailer is there, you are an idiot and have no business towing anything.

    What really kills me is when they say that after towing an 8,000 pound load with a half-ton and no trailer brakes. Some people never got over high school…

  • avatar
    NickR

    maniceightball…I know! I just think it’s a silly manufacturers term. Everyone ends up saying a/c anyway.

    Oh yes, I am going to add ‘flame surfaced’

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    “hoon”, “hoonery”, or “hoonage”. as in driving like a hoon.

    what the hell is that, a Canadian term?

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Tommy231 reminded me of one – when people say that one wheel is the “drive wheel” of a particular vehicle (assuming an open differential). This is another thing that I had wrong as a kid that I learned later on.

  • avatar
    davey49

    In slightly old time marketing speak; I’ve always hated “It’s like a jet cockpit inside” when referring to car interiors.
    Jet planes take years of training to use, not something I’d want in a car.
    Binders isn’t so bad.

  • avatar
    HPE

    Not specifically a piece of jargon, but magazines’ habit of rubbishing the just-superseded model, as in, “Well, this new model promises to be a vast improvement on its heap-of-junk predecessor”, when in fact said magazine had actually written a positive review of older model at launch.

    Also, paragraphs on future models which start like this:

    “[Spokesperson X] wouldn’t be tied down on details of the car’s likeliest mechanical layout, price point or on-sale date”

    Yes, that is a real piece of ‘journalism’ from a magazine which should really know better.

  • avatar

    Related to mikey’s post: “rebadged.”

    “Being a (Toyota/Honda/any other non-Detroit company), I know it’s reliable.” Related: “…as if I’d EVER (set foot in/darken the door of) a (GM/Ford/Chrysler) dealership.” Reeks of snobbery to me.

    When discussing vehicles thought to be ugly, someone always has to chime it with “don’t forget the Aztek.” We won’t, OK? Related (when discussing crappy vehicles): “…what about the Yugo?” We know.

    Calling any police package an “Interceptor.” It’s only correct when referring to Ford. Related: “positraction” for any limited-slip rear end. Positraction is strictly GM, Chrysler called theirs Sure-Grip, and I’m sure Ford had/has a similar trademark.

    “Green.” ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “XYZ is the new ___”

    +1 for pistonhead, striken text and everything Stephan Wilkinson listed.

  • avatar
    nino

    How about “road hugging weight”?

    Or somebody that uses words like “tin can” or “shitbox” to describe any small car?

    The opposite when people say, “I need a big car (or heavy car) because I want to be safe”.

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    “I test drove xyz car and it had great ‘pickup\'”

    God I hate that term….WTF is “pickup” in regards to a car.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I tend to dislike the way those one-page pre-review reviews of random cars found in the front of car mags like C&D nowadays. Any drier and my head would shrink.

    Here’s a list of individual items I can think of that rub me the wrong way. Some of them are just common phrases I hear from people, and others, things I read in editorials.

    “Bespoke” (when referring to anything remotely expensive. We know you can get special options for a car, no need to get fancy on us)

    “Poor man’s…” (when used to compare two very different things)

    “Great build quality” (when used to refer to how well the interior is fitted and finished as opposed to how well everything else is put together)

    “If it came in a hatchback…” (when used to refer to something we didn’t get as a hatchback that you never would have bought anyway. ie. 1-series)

    “If it didn’t come as a hatchback…” (when used to refer to something we got as a hatchback because they figured we wanted it like that. ie. WRX)

    “My…does…better” (when trying to explain how a 1965 imperial that is never driven because of electrical problems, is somehow more reliable, faster, easier to drive, and better than a new sports car)

  • avatar

    I could go on, but we’re immersed in chiches here at ttac. Can’t anybody think of anything original to write? Think, don’t type. THINK.

    Stephan,

    And after thinking and typing, edit. Then edit again. Stephen King’s On Writing says to remove about 1/3.

  • avatar

    Calling brakes ‘binders’.

    I think that’s a Britishism, like dampers, bonnet, hood (roof), boot, drophead coupes, and wing.

    “Bespoke” (when referring to anything remotely expensive. We know you can get special options for a car, no need to get fancy on us)

    If that’s how it’s used, it’s incorrect. Bespoke is British for “custom”, as in a bespoke Saville Row suit, where according to Wikipedia, the term originated, where a suit was said to “be spoken for”. Here’s a very cool blog by a Saville Row tailor: http://www.englishcut.com/

    Most of the high end mfgs have some kind of customization program. Rolls-Royce calls it their “Bespoke Program”, Ferrari has their Carrozzeria Scaglietti, for when spending $250K on a car just doesn’t have the right cachet.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    Calling a convertible a “‘vert.”

    Waiting for _x_ new car to “drop,” or “bow.”

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    S. Wilkenson said….

    1/”Just sayin’.” Hmmm. Can be funny.

    2/”A whole bowl of notgood.com…” 99% bad.

    3/Any piece of text that uses strikeouts. Disagree. If you used properly. See Murilee Martin.

    4/”cough–Aveo [or whatever]–cough…” Agreed — lazy.

    5/”I’m looking at you, GM…” 50/50 — can be funny.

    6/”It looks like a Ford Focus that was rear-ended by a 3-Series while being T-boned by a Mazda3…” or any other facile cut-and-paste of car designs. Mostly awful, except in the case of a BMW 1-Series which does look like a 3-Series that got rear-ended by a 7-series and T-boned by a hippo.

    I could go on, but we’re immersed in chiches here at ttac. Can’t anybody think of anything original to write? Think, don’t type. THINK. I’m thinking, I’m thinking…

  • avatar
    benders

    Since when are cars called ‘whips?’

  • avatar

    obscure references

    Good think I edited out that Billy Sol Hurok reference to the piece I’m writing.

  • avatar

    “Kicked it into overdrive”

    My Volvo had an electrical switch, no kicking required.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I like this thread. Also appreciate the discernment thrown in about “handles on rails”.

    I personally get pissed sometimes when I here “XYZ has “only” 200hp moving 4000lbs, paltry compared to ABC’s 250hp”. and “Its an Suv so it sucks”.

    I also do like dampers being called “shocks” its not smart I think.

    I do not like when someone says “Caddilac ougth to be standard of the world” or “GM should have 50% share, but -blank- ruined it”. What the hell, starndard of the world, 50% market share, get real. Life does not revolve around GM, and its ok for them to just build competitive cars, not try to make a magical dream car.

    Also “Your car says “whatever” about who you are.” I say kiss my ass.

    Maybe the one I hate the most is “I’d buy it if it looked better”. Fuck that, buy good fucking cars, period.

  • avatar

    3/Any piece of text that uses strikeouts. Disagree. If you used properly. See Murilee Martin.

    Agreed. Strikethrough text is a nice shorthand way to to snark. Or is “snark” now a cliche?

  • avatar
    sellfone

    saying a car “looks fast just standing still”.

    calling a car’s interior a “gut”.

  • avatar

    “handling like it’s on rails.”

    I had a friend who used to say that Porsches had “one to one” steering. Sure, F1 and other open wheel track cars have very low steering ratios, but I don’t think any road cars are below 2:1.

    I’ve always hated “handles/corners like a slot car”. Some car guys (sorry) like speed, I get off on cars that handle. The first car I bought was a ’66 Lotus Elan (and still have the four lane 1/32 Revell “Sebring” slot car set I got as a bar mitzvah present). I want the car to go where I point it, to be nimble and follow my input, not to mindlessly go someplace because it has no other option.

  • avatar

    I third what Stephan Wilkinson said. Maybe not all the time but the things he mentioned are used far too much. Anything that’s used so much it has become cliche.

  • avatar
    brush

    N8iveVA

    Hoon
    http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/txt/s1639637.htm
    The Macquarie Dictionary defines a hoon as “a foolish or silly person, especially one who is a show-off”. But – as I’ve explained before on WordWatch – no one is quite certain where the word hoon comes from. What is its derivation? I asked.

    see the article, it seems that “hoon” has several roots, but “hoon” and a “hoon” driver (he’s hooning around again in his GTHO) seems to be a more australian/english description of bad driving habits.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Referring to a vehicle that can run on a mixture of gasoline and corn juice (I don’t care what the ratio is) as “Flex Fuel.”

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    “Again. Still.” I’m not sure why it drives me batshit insane, but there you go. Also see: Synergy, dynamic, opportunistically cautious, and the notion that trucks can and should be used for anything other than work.

    My most hated though, and I have not seen it mentioned yet: “There’s no replacement for displacement”

  • avatar

    Anything J. Mays says.

  • avatar

    Every time I hear someone say “dampeners” when they mean “dampers” (or damping) I get a little bit closer to an aneurysm. Damping refers to suspension function, dampening refers to getting something wet. When someone purporting to be a mechanic says “dampener”, run away.

  • avatar
    Kman

    – This engine has kick

    – “I don’t drive standard, I have to get the automatic”

    – Most things written in a newspaper car review.

    – Using “i.e.” when “e.g.” is the correct thing to use (e.g. “this car has the msot kick(i.e. the Corvette)”)

    – And I second the suddenly-appearing, contrived ads about all the fuel efficient cars (i.e., er, e.g. GM)

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Oh, wait, I forgot my favorite, which is when girl car writers for magazines such as Business Week describe a car as “zippy.”

  • avatar
    mcs

    The term “Dynamic Styling” drives me crazy. I picture a a piece of trim or a fender flapping around in the breeze every time I hear the phrase. I used to have a Chevy Monza that would occasionally shed a body part hear and there as it went down the road – maybe that’s what they meant.

    Seriously, what exactly is the difference between cars with dynamic styling and cars without dynamic styling? Does anybody know? How do I tell them apart? Suppose I want to impress my friends with my automotive knowledge by pointing to a passing car or SUV and saying “look y’all, that car there has what they call dy namic styling” – but what exactly am I looking for? I’m so confused…

  • avatar
    matt

    I’ve always hated hearing “pain at the pump.” So many things piss me off about that phrase.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    BuzzDog: to make it worst people in Brazil have now reduced it just to Flex, as in: “I’ve bought a new car, it is a Flex” which apart from sounding stupid is ridiculous as 99% of all cars sold in Brazil now are “Flexes”.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Three come to mind.

    #3 “Penalty Box”- If it gets you from point A to point B without breaking down it’s not really a penalty.

    #2 “Wrong Wheel Drive”- Face it. There’s a lot of bad drivers out there. Some are smart enough to acknowledge this shortcoming, and buy a front wheeled drive vehicle so they can drive in ice and snow a little better/safer. Nothing “wrong” about that.

    #1 “Interior Materials”- Am I the only one that doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about what the interior of my car is made out of? If a button is functioning properly does it really matter if it’s “soft touch” or not?

  • avatar
    DasFast

    Nice, I finally have a forum. Once and for all, repeat after me…

    foot/pounds of torque
    NOT
    pound/feet of torque

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Death to clichés!

    Here’s one I really hate: “holster”, as in “the car holstered a 3-liter engine”. Half-assed cowboy talk, anybody?

    More: Overused variants of “having said that”. Such as “that having said”, “that having been said”, “after I have said that”, blah blah. It’s a tired rhetorical device. “The car has many faults. Having said that, I accept that it is cheap”. Man.

    I second, third, and fourth much of what has been posted here. “Hoon”? Get out of here, please. “Just sayin\'”: Is that out of the Sarah Palin textbook of false folksiness?

    The Economist has a style guide, and so should TTAC.

  • avatar
    nudave

    “too big to fail”

    (because they’re not – and they already have)

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Without a doubt, the abbreviation “Toyondasan” or whatever one could come up with as shorthand for the japanese/korean car manufacturers. I mean, how hard is it to spell out Toyota, Honda and Nissan? It’s not funny, it’s ugly, and it’s lazy. Above all, it makes you look stupid.

    On second place, the expression of Ford, GM and Chrysler as the big 2.8xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, where the x:es are an infinite row of random numbers. Yeah, I get it, Cerberus only owns some 80% of Chrysler. But come on, that joke is old. Not only old, it stopped being funny sometimes last summer.

  • avatar
    Gforce

    Toyondissan?

  • avatar
    cleek

    “Styling Cues”
    “Save the planet”
    “2010”

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Martin Schwoerer :
    The Economist has a style guide, and so should TTAC.

    The Economist’s guide is exceptional – especially for those who like eating, shooting, and leaving.

    A ‘TTAC Style Guide’?

    I think Farago has better things to do than expand the usage of ‘craptastic’. (Although I’d read whatever he had to say).

  • avatar

    Insisting that (insert domestic manufacturer here) just doesn’t feel as “Teutonic” as BMW/Mercedes/Audi and therefore is not as good.

    From Webster:
    Teutonic
    Pronunciation:tü-ˈtä-nik, tyü-
    Function: noun
    Date: 1612
    : germanic

    Really? You’re complaining that the CTS doesn’t feel German? You actually get paid to write this crap?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    DOA – Dead On Arrival, is another overused cliché.

    As is the dead man walking paraphrase, where man could be substituted for X, and in most cases at TTAC, X = brand, thus dead brand walking. Funny ones time, yes. Two times, perhaps. All over the board, not so much.

  • avatar
    AKM

    “crisp handling”, “crisp styling”, crisp any-goddamn-thing

  • avatar
    Robstar

    annoying?

    Statement. Or not. (or maybe? or who knows? This is the truth about cars. Why say the statement and then put “or not” after it?)

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Not fond of “carving turns” through the “twistys.”

  • avatar
    Selektaa

    I’ll second “Again. Still.” It might’ve been cute the first few times, but this is a particular piece of TTAC snark I could do without.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Aha! Some posters have reminded me of two phrases I should add to my list of tac cliches”

    Not so much.

    Or not.

  • avatar
    dean

    DasFast: actually, it is pounds-feet. Just like in metric it is Newton-meters. Force acting at a radial distance, not distance acting at a force. So it is conventional for the force measure to be listed first.

    But I agree, foot-pounds rolls off the tongue easier.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    DasFast :
    Nice, I finally have a forum. Once and for all, repeat after me…

    foot/pounds of torque
    NOT
    pound/feet of torque

    The “/” implies “per”. “foot per pound” is not the proper unit for torque. That is more likely a measurement for… sausage links.

    The correct units are force multiplied by length (Nm, ft·lbf).

    Also, about the hatchback-wagon thing: I refuse to buy a sedan or coupe. If the 1 series came as a 5 door hatch, you can bet I would have been all over it. Instead, I settled for a GTI. It has been a great car, but I think I’d prefer RWD. Considering that I was able to get a lip for my GTI into my wife’s MINI (to take to the post office), which never would have worked in my old Impreza sedans, it is obvious that a small car w/ a hatch is much more useful than a larger car w/ a trunk.

  • avatar

    Do car ads still tout MacPherson struts and rack-and-pinion steering? I used to hate that.

    The real killer, that a few people have mentioned, is “overdrive.” Not so much the word, but the fact that the sound of it makes people think it gives them quicker acceleration, when it actually gives them slower acceleration and better fuel economy.

    That and the fact that people still think it’s special, even though virtually every transmission now has at least one overdrive gear.

  • avatar
    austinseven

    Aw, you guys are taking all the fun out of being an automobile journalist.

    Not only are they going to have to suffer through egg salad sandwiches at the Detroit show and not to mention the loss of extra income from putting their free goodies onto e-Bay, but now they’re going to have to write something original and forget “The gearshift falls readily to hand”, probably the most over used term in their lexicon..

  • avatar
    CellMan

    Enough with the obscure references, tired cliches and sentences that wildly jump around all over the place. I’m looking at you TTAC (yes I know, another tired phrase.)

    You can be intelligent, witty and informative without all of that peripheral distracting noise. In fact, when I was in the UK I remember the Plain English Campaign that encouraged plain speaking and writing. A healthy dose of that philosophy would help many automotive publications, TTAC included, concisely get their message across without the hyperbole.

    Just sayin’ :)

  • avatar
    wmba

    As an engineer, I’m always amazed at the little understanding people have about torque. ft-lbs is wrong.

    So here is the definition: force times distance about a rotaional axis. (Not distance times force, that’s energy.)

    Torque is thus measured in lbf-ft or nt-m, meaning pounds times feet, or newtons times meters.

    Anything else is incorrect.

    Particularly as noted above by someone, lb/ft or ft/lb. He gets it wrong! Arggggh! There is no division, it is F x d, force times distance.

    ft-lbs is a measure of energy, not torque, even if it has the same ultimate units.

    Grade 10 here in Canada, understood by nearly nobody, including the teacher who graduated with a BA in English.

    Torque is lbf-ft, and only Car and Driver gets it right. Everyone else uses the sloppy version, not thinking, because they’re not behaving as Stephan would want.

    I’ve waited years for a forum for this explanation! ft-lbs for torque drives me crazy!
    it is pound-feet, lbf-ft or newton-meters.

    EOR.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    @ Stephan Wilkinson:

    I was being ironic in my use of the “not so much” meme. I thought that somebody would pick it up… ;)

  • avatar
    Quentin

    wmba – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torque seems to disagree with your assessment. I, being an engineer as well, see no major issues with swapping the locations of the units unless you are dealing with vectors and cross products where switching the order of the vectors changes the sign of the resultant vector. In that case, it should always be F x l. But if everything is in the same plane, I’m not going to be picky.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Oh, and there’s another one: meme, the most overused word of the year.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Ft/lbs was the common nomenclature for those of us over 30. I’ve got dozens of factory and government manuals and handbooks. They foot pound. They do not pound feet.

    Somewhere around the 90s, I noticed the younger crowd on the lbs/ft bandwagon.

    This is a religious argument. One could argue either side with hundreds of examples in print.

    Someday it will all just be NM…

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    Any use of the phrase “‘Nuff said” functions like an extremely political bumper sticker: you’re not convincing anyone, and you just look like a douchebag for trying.

    Also, if anyone has ever located a single review of the Ford Flex that can get more than two paragraphs in WITHOUT mentioning the 1st-gen Scion xB, please tell me where. Because I cannot.

  • avatar
    pman

    Some that come to mind:

    “Hemi” – It’s not a hemispherical anything. Cheezy marketing gimic.

    “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” – WTF? What 11 year old girl thought of this fruity line of BS?

    “biggest/most/highest/best xxxx in its class” – but you’re not supposed to notice that the rest of the car is a POS, right?

    “dealer incentive” – So the dealer wouldn’t want to sell the 217 Impalas on the lot without this incentive?

    “the interior is too plasticky” – what do you want your interior made of? Drywall?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    It doesn’t matter if foot goes first or pound goes first. What’s wrong is using a slash “/” because that’s division, and the units are being multiplied. I’m not picky about “lb” vs “lbf” because pounds are a force by default.

    Anyway, for me it’s “handles like a go-kart.” I drive a Miata and even if it’s closer to being a go-kart than most cars, there’s still no comparison. It’s especially annoying in reviews of FWD cars. I’m also pretty sick of hearing about “soul.” Unless you honestly believe that mechanical objects are alive, do a better job at explaining what you like about a car. In most cases it seems to refer to how the car responds to input, so say so.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Pete DeLorenzo’s phrase when he wants to compliment a thoroughly mediocre car.

    “It has great road presence.”

    Total cat vomit.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Verbal

    “The ride is firm but not harsh.”

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “X is the new Y”.

    Like in, “Brown is the new Black”. And I’m looking at you, Justin Berkowitz… ;)

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “b/c” instead of “because”. And “w/o” instead of “without”. I mean, how hard is it? Makes you look like a dork.

  • avatar

    Stephan,

    I agree (while I used it pretty heavily on another thread), but it can be useful shorthand for “idea that has some currency”.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    comparing every car, often those not even in the same segment, to the BMW 3 series or M3.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Pretty much any posting or comment that says:

    “The Big 2.8 needs to kill [Big 3 brand here]” or

    “Euthanize [Big 3 brand here]” or

    “Sell [ditto]”

    Sure, just snap your fingers, and it’s done!

  • avatar
    SpottyB

    wmba, I’m a little confused by this. You know, since you’re an engineer and all.

    “So here is the definition: force times distance about a rotaional axis. (Not distance times force, that’s energy.)”

    Can you please explain why F x d doesn’t = d x F?

    When terms are multiplied together it doesn’t matter what order you do it in.

    You get the same thing. ftlbs = lbsft however you want to say it.

    *edit – sorry, was beaten to the punch by just about everyone
    and FYI: Torque = energy

  • avatar

    this isn’t car jargon, but I hate it when people say “X is the new Y.”

    Justin???

  • avatar
    vanderaj

    Fancy shmancy names for old things:

    “Shooting Brake” – It’s a station wagon. WTF is a shooting brake? Does it come with a gun rack and an ammo holder? Colors should include camo, desert, and snow.

    “Estate” – It’s a station wagon.

    “Saloon” – It’s a sedan.

    Car writers who forget the target audience of the car being reviewed. MPVs and mommie vans do not need to handle like a go kart, or even have steering feel. Hatches do not need be “hot”, although it helps.

    “Handles like a go cart” is a personal peeve of mine. If I wanted a car to have terrible ride, a punishing unforgiving seat and unassisted steering, I’d buy a go cart. I don’t want that, and I bet most of you don’t either.

    “Stops on a dime”. More like 30-40 metres. If you stopped on a dime, you’d be dead, like plowing into a bridge or a wall. Be factual – is it enough to miss being in an incident, or not? Do you have reasonable steering during hard stops, or is it skid city. Braking is not just stand on the brakes and hope.

    “Feel free steering” – when describing ANY electric assist steering setup. I’ve driven a couple of BMWs and (absolutely) hate how you end up in the next lane if you sneeze or do a head check. I don’t need that much “communication” in the dead on position. There’s nothing wrong with any of the modern electric assists I’ve driven recently for the average driver.

    “Terrible understeer”. Understeer is far more correctable for the average driver (and face it, there’s lots of them) than oversteer. RWD cars are a handful anywhere but a drift track when driven at 10/10ths. No matter how much we’d want to, we just don’t drive to work at a 45 degree angle with rubber smoke pouring out the rear bags. If you’re driving fast, you’re conserving tires and driving smooth. It’s easier to do this in a 4WD or FWD car than a RWD car for the average driver.

  • avatar
    arapaima

    I hate it when companies try to tell me their car is fun to drive; I’ll figure that out myself thank you. It doesn’t help that they’re lying 90% of the time.

    Next up is “class-leading X”; it seems just about every car leads its class in economy, room and power.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Shooting brake, estate and saloon are simply British terms, like boot, bonnet, tyre, petrol. Certainly American writers, or writers for American publications, seem affected when using Britishisms, but they’re perfectly good terms for various car models in a large part of the world.

    Another late addition to the ttac cliche list:

    “Oh, wait,” followed by anything, as in “I forgot that GM is already bankrupt” or whatever.

    Any how about calling tires “bags”? Oh, wait…

  • avatar

    More: Overused variants of “having said that”. Such as “that having said”, “that having been said”, “after I have said that”, blah blah. It’s a tired rhetorical device. “The car has many faults. Having said that, I accept that it is cheap”. Man.

    Having said that, how would you propose saying it differently? It may be tired, but what other rhetorical device allows you to discuss both sides of an issue?

  • avatar

    I was being ironic in my use of the “not so much” meme. I thought that somebody would pick it up… ;)

    FWIW, though I’ve always been partial to it, irony is a bit overused these days. It seems popular with “millenials”. Somebody needs to tell Jon Stewart and his bunch that irony isn’t the only form of humor.

  • avatar

    Toyondissan

    I prefer Toyondissandai myself.

  • avatar

    #1 “Interior Materials”- Am I the only one that doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about what the interior of my car is made out of? If a button is functioning properly does it really matter if it’s “soft touch” or not?

    Tactile feel (Dept. of Redundancy Dept. alert) of switches and controls affects the perception of quality. Compare the way the switchwork feels on a conrad-johnson preamp to mass consumer electronics. If the turn signal level feels like it’s going to break off every time you use it, that affects quality perception.

    Also, how a switch or potentiometer feels is often a reflection of its actual quality, how the contacts mate, how smooth the windings are, how much free play there is. I don’t know if they’re still as high quality since Tyco took them over, but you could feel the quality of AMP switches.

    Taken your position to an extreme, they could leave a couple of bare wire ends that you could touch to complete circuits but I don’t think you’d be happy with that.

  • avatar
    Wheely

    Calling torque “twist”.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    1. “Gas-guzzler” or “gas-guzzling”.

    2. “Fuel sipping”

    3. “Global warming”

    4. “Climate changing”

    5. “Environmentally friendly”

    6. “Dino juice” (How many morons actually believe that crap?)

    7. “Planet destroying”

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I read the whole thread to this point. I got a few laughs from it, but it occurred to me that we may be running out of things we’re allowed to say.

    I’d add a few of my own, but I fear that I might complete the circle mathematical possibilities and cause this to be the last possible article and thread on TTAC!

  • avatar

    6. “Dino juice” (How many morons actually believe that crap?)

    Gliocadium roseum, is a fungus that naturally produces esters, octanes and alcohols. It’s possible that petroleum deposits are the result of microbial action, not degradation of living matter.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    It’s not really a piece of car jargon or a particular phrase, but it really irks me when I read a car review and the first eight paragraphs (of nine) talk about what the author thinks of the car’s looks. That’s great, but usually I read car reviews to know about how a car drives, handles everyday duties, and, of course, whether it handles like it’s on rails, not to hear about how it looks. I can look at the pictures, can’t I?

    Speaking of which… please, please, PLEASE stop saying “und” when you review German cars. Please.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Heartily agree. I think it was Road and Track that started the precious first-two-pages assessment of a car’s looks, years ago. I remember arguing with Dennis Siminaitis about it over dinner, and he eventually said, “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

    And now, of course, I have to read Cumberford’s finger-to-lower-lip, hand-on-elbow assessments of why the fact that the taillights are lower than the headlights means a car’s lines are disconnected, or whatever.

    The endless ttac thread, not far from this one, about whether the Panamera is ugly or not is an excellent example of the futility of arguing whether a car is attractive or not. It’s like arguing whether Meryl Streep is more or less attractive than Glenn Close: it’s nobody’s business, I can make up my own mind, and I really don’t care to read that you think Streep is ugly.

  • avatar
    vanderaj

    “Shooting brake” is not a common British term in the last 40 years, although it might have originated from there within the last twelve months or so. I know Audi has been plugging “Shooting Brake” for cars clearly not useful for hunting only since the A5 and other useless coupes came out.

    “Estate” is a term for station wagon there – it never caught on in Australia, which used the USA “station wagon”. “Estate” was tried on for size by Mercedes, but if you look at cars.com.au or similar, you’ll find no mention of that body style. Seems like pedestrian names are no longer worthy.

    “Shooting brake” is just a fancy term to try describe the humble large hatch / small wagon form factor in a fancy way. It doesn’t fool anyone – besides motoring journalists.

    Andrew

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    “Car of the Year”….

    I am blown away at some of the terrible cars that are awarded such titles from various publications. It is about as meaningless as the Grammys. In fact, I’d probably scratch that car off my list.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Ronnie,

    the problem with clichés is that they are so darn convenient. Of course, convenience is good every now and then, but gets unhealthy when it replaces the stuff that should be done in a proper fashion.

    So I can live with an occasional “that said,…”. (Yes, I prefer the British variant). But why not employ an old-fashioned “on the one hand, on the other hand”? Or something similar? I also enjoy it when writers use transparent logic to illustrate both sides of an argument, and don’t need a rhetorical device that explains what they are doing.

    By the way, I appreciate your style and the forceful way you express your convictions. I think It would be great if you wrote for TTAC.

  • avatar

    retards who go around saying “zoom zoom”

    I’ve owned 3 Mazdas (100 whp Miata, 517 whp RX-7, 360 whp RX-8) and while I love them, that phrase and the people who keep repeating it drive me into a murderous rage.

  • avatar
    DasFast

    Hmm, pounds feet has been around long enough to be accepted as correct when in fact isn’t. While I misused the / key, ft.lbs or ft.lbf properly describes torque as well.
    In expressing torque, we are describing the twisting force produced by x number of pounds acting on the end of a one foot lever. In the abbreviations lbf.ft, lbs.ft and lbs/ft, most media refer to “ft” as “feet”, and not correctly as “foot” because it would sound wrong. So, if you want to describe rotational force correctly, and in any order as SpottyB correctly points out, give pounds.foot (not feet) a try and see if it rolls off the tongue like foot.pounds does. It doesn’t.
    Secondly, when it’s pronounced pounds feet, the weight and lever have been pluralized:

    300 pounds.feet of torque at 3000 rpm

    Okay, 300 pounds, how many feet is the lever? Sloppy language…

    This change in useage from the historical model foot.pounds was brought about by the same word smiths that took the ass out of harassment, the second i out of aluminum (aluminium!) and is now hell bent on taking every “ah” sound and making it an “aw” because it sounds more pretentious. Thus, noodles begat pasta, begat pawstah.

    sigh.

  • avatar

    The whole “torque” problem seems to be centered in America. Every American car show or magazine I can think of uses “foot-pounds” (much to my irritation because I’ve long known it is incorrect). Maybe we should just give up and start using newton-metres (meters for those in the 50). Or will some southern drawl muscle car greasemonkey start saying metres-newton and screw that up as well?

    My understanding of the shooting brake was that it was a (now dead) form of two door station wagon. Not a hatchback. Look for Aston Martin shooting brake for a (stunning) textbook example. Or a Chevy Nomad, I suppose.

    That reminds me, one of my recent pet peeves are “four door coupes”. It’s a paradox, an oxymoron. They are normal four door sedans. You just gave them a sweeping roofline and needed some marketing jargon to sell them. Stop saying it – because if you don’t shut up it will soon become accepted, like foot-pounds. Baaargh.

  • avatar
    dean

    DasFast, friend, stop digging.

    As another poster said, ft-lb or lb-ft is really a matter of preference (or convention) because order of multiplication is irrelevant in algebraic expressions. But please don’t try to say that ft-lb is correct and lb-ft is incorrect.

    In expressing torque, we are describing the twisting force produced by x number of pounds acting on the end of a one foot lever.

    No, no, no! That is not what torque describes. It only describes force acting at a radial distance. You can certainly use a one foot lever to visualize the amount of force applied for a given value of torque, but under no definition of torque is it required that you do so.

    In the abbreviations lbf.ft, lbs.ft and lbs/ft, most media refer to “ft” as “feet”, and not correctly as “foot” because it would sound wrong. So, if you want to describe rotational force correctly, and in any order as SpottyB correctly points out, give pounds.foot (not feet) a try and see if it rolls off the tongue like foot.pounds does. It doesn’t.
    Secondly, when it’s pronounced pounds feet, the weight and lever have been pluralized:

    300 pounds.feet of torque at 3000 rpm

    Okay, 300 pounds, how many feet is the lever? Sloppy language…

    Now you are using your erroneous argument that torque requires a one foot lever to come to a conclusion. Since your first argument is wrong, your conclusion is baseless. (And since when does the way something rolls off the tongue make it more or less correct?)

    Your example of 300 pounds-feet: who cares how long the lever is? It probably isn’t a foot in the case of an engine anyway. It could be 600lb acting at a radial distance of 6″, or it could be 450lb acting at 8″. Which goes to illustrate that engine torque alone is a lousy predictor of acceleration or towing capability. That largely depends on the ratios used to deliver that torque to the contact patch of the driven tires.

    How about you keep calling it ft-lb, I’ll call it lb-ft, and we’ll stop trying to tell each other we’re wrong.

    And for the record, you brought it up originally.


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