Glossary of Auto Terms

DriverSide's Car Dictionary has the most comprehensive definitions of automotive terms. This auto glossary can help you decipher what your mechanic is fixing and what the purpose or function of the particular auto part or accessory is for. We have taken the mystery out of automotive service jargon, so that you don't have to.


Oxygen Sensor

The bane of owners with "check engine" lights everywhere, the oxygen sensor is a device that can fail with frustrating frequency. This device measures the oxygen level in the exhaust gases, allowing the engine to adjust the air/fuel mixture accordingly. However, each manufacturer uses the oxygen sensor differently--and uses oxygen sensors of varying qualities and design as well, so that a failing oxygen sensor in one car may produce no noticeable affects, while in other cars a failed oxygen sensor (also called an "oh-two sensor" for the chemical descriptor) can radically impact fuel efficiency and overall engine performance--in some cases, the car may not even run. If you're going through oxygen sensors like nobody's business, it's probably a symptom of larger problem, often having to do with an "off" air/fuel mixture damaging the sensor.

See Also:
Carbon Tracks
Spark Advance
Knock Sensor
Spark Knock

Diagnose Your Car's Problem

Engine won't start? Weird sound? Strange smoke? Got something going on with your car but not sure what it is? The easy to use DriverSide Diagnostic Tool is here to help you figure it out.

Enter Zip: