General Car Industry Terms
With Definitions

Here are all the general car industry terms and definitions you will ever need to know. This is category #8 of the 10 part Car Terms section of this website.

After-market: Pretty much anything that is added to your vehicle that is not provided by the manufacturer. That can include: Custom wheels or tires, body moldings, pinstriping, CD players, DVD players, performance parts, etc.

Auctions: There are many different types of car auctions. Some are open only to wholesalers and others are open to anyone. Some of the wholesale/dealers auctions will allow the wholesaler to bring a non-dealer with them. The wholesaler will usually charge you for this. You can save a lot of money buying a car this way but you will only be allowed to start the car and NOT test drive it. There are also military auctions, customs auctions, DEA auctions, police auctions, etc.

Auto Brokers: These people will find you a car and are paid on a flat fee basis or commission based on a percentage of the price of the vehicle. If you choose to buy a car this way then I suggest you get references first.

Buying Services: These are companies where you choose a vehicle and they will find a car dealer in your area with the best price. This can be an excellent way to save time, money and avoid a lot of hassles. New car prices can vary greatly, so the best way to find the lowest price is to spend some time getting free quotes from these companies: FordDirect and CarsDirect.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy: Also known as “CAFE”. If you look at the window sticker on a new vehicle you will see this listed. This is really kind of a joke, I think, because it doesn’t reveal the true gas mileage of the vehicle you’re interested in. Instead, this is the average gas mileage of all the cars offered by a given car manufacturer. It is a legally mandated requirement that the manufacturers show this.

Domestic Automaker: Car manufacturers within the United States. The big ones are: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. These companies also own many “foreign” car companies. For example, Ford owns Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin too.

European Delivery Program: Also known as “EDP”. This is where you go to the country where your car is manufactured and buy it. They will make your new car compliant with U.S. (or wherever) regulations and then you pick it up and travel that country and then your new car will be shipped back to your country, which has all been pre-arranged by the dealer. Talk to your local dealer about arranging this type of deal. Most European built cars can be bought this way.

Fleet Seller: These guys work for the car manufacturer and are responsible for volume sales to large companies, police, fire departments, etc.

Gray Market: This is where you buy a new car from a foreign dealer and ship it to the U.S. and then have it brought up to U.S. standards and then sell it. The problem is that most manufacturers will not warranty these vehicles because of the aftermarket changes.

Imports: Any car manufacturer that is not incorporated in the United States even though many of these companies are now owned by the big three.

Joint Venture: This is where 2 or more car manufacturers join forces. Here are some examples of Joint Ventures: Ford and Mazda, Chrysler and Mitsubishi, General Motors and Toyota.

Make: The name of the company that “makes” the vehicle. Mercedes Benz is a “make”. Volvo is a make. Chevrolet is a make, etc.

Manufacture Date: This is the date that approximates when your vehicle was manufactured. You can usually see this inside the front drivers door panel.

Manufacturer Options: Options or accessories that are installed by the car manufacturer.

Model: Like I said before the “Make” is the company that makes the vehicle and the “Model” is just a specific vehicle made by the car manufacturer. For example, Ford is the "make" and "F150" is a “model” within the Ford truck line.

Original Equipment Manufacturer: Also known as “OEM”. Equipment that is made by the company that makes the vehicle.

Platform Family Members: Also known as “Cousins” or “Twins”. Twins are the same models offered by the same parent company but have different names. The GMC Yukon is basically the same vehicle as the Chevy Tahoe. “Cousins” are the same vehicles that are marketed by different parent companies. The Geo Prism (GMC parent company) and the Toyota Corolla are Twins. By the way, if you’re interested in buying a used Toyota Corolla, you might want to check out the Geo Prism instead because you can get it for a lot less money because of Toyota’s high resale value.

Regional Recall: This is where the manufacturer issues a recall of a certain vehicle due to a manufacturer defect but they will only repair the defect for cars that are in the geographical region they specify. The problem with this type of recall is when the vehicle is bought in one state and is later moved to another state, well, if your vehicle needs that defect fixed...then you are out of luck babe-eee! There have been 40 Regional Recalls within the last 10 years.

U.S. Auto Recalls - Canadian Auto Recalls

Regional Sales Manager: This is the person that pushes your local franchised car dealers to sell. They work for the car manufacturer and are in charge of a specific region within the U.S and all the franchised dealers within that region.

Sales Regions: An area and car dealers within that sales region that the “Regional Sales Manager” is in charge of.

Transplant: Transplants are “foreign” car manufacturers like BMW, Honda, Nissan, Mazda and Mercedes Benz that have factories located in the United States.

Trim Levels: Each model of a particular car will usually be offered by the manufacturer with different option packages. For example: The Ford F150 comes as the XL, the XLT, and the XLT Lariat. Each of them comes with more options. The XL has the least of these options or accessories.


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