What's Under the Bonnet? Car Term Differences Around the World

Where there are roads, there are cars. And "lorries." And "estates." What? These are just a few region-specific names for everyday vehicles. If you're heading overseas, get to know some foreign car lingo so you can chat like a local.

Autos in Australia

If you travel down under, you'll not only notice motorists driving on the left side of the road, you'll also hear them talk about stopping at the "petrol station" for fuel. While there, they might give their "windscreen," or windshield, a wash.

Here are some other funny names for cars and other (slight) linguistic differences from the land of Oz (many are also used in other Commonwealth countries):

  • Anchors: brakes
  • Number plate: license plate
  • Roo catcher: bull-bars on the front of trucks
  • Servo: Full-service gas station
  • Ute: Utility vehicle
  • Road train: A semi truck with multiple trailers crossing the outback

British car terms

When you're driving in London and your radio reception is poor, blame the "aerial," aka the antenna. And the traffic lights have three colors, red, green and amber—not yellow. And, of course, the British word for the hood of a car.

Here are a more terms to try using in conversation when you cross the pond:

  • Dual carriageway: divided highway
  • Bonnet: hood of the car
  • Flyover: an overpass
  • Gear stick: stick shift
  • Hooter: car horn
  • Slip road: entrance or exit ramp to a highway
  • Boot: the trunk of the car
  • Tyre: tire

Canadian car talk

Going north? If you cruise over the border into Canada, you'll hear the locals talk about going "out for a rip." Translation: going for a ride. This applies to cars, snowmobiles, and any other form of personal transportation.

Here are a few more uniquely Canadian phrases to learn:

  • Hang a Larry: left turn
  • Hang a Roger: right turn
  • Parkade: multi-level parking garage

Know of any regional auto-part terms? Let us know in the comments!

Last updated December 4, 2017

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