Mechanic Jargon To Know So You Don't Get Ripped Off  

Ann Casano
13 items

Mechanic lingo can seem just as complicated as the workings of the 6.0-liter W12 engine on a Bentley Bentayga. Mayo under the oil cap sounds pretty gross, but it also may indicate a major problem with your vehicle. Spongy brakes can be an easy repair, but it's an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.  

Mechanic jargon is only intimidating for the uneducated. If you want to know how to talk to a mechanic, are in the market for a new car, or just want to understand basic vehicle vernacular, this list is a great place to start. Get smart so you don’t get ripped off next time you bring your car into the repair shop.

Spongy Brakes

Meaning: Spongy brakes make the brake pedal feel soft. You may notice less resistance instead of the usual firm feel. This typically occurs when there is an issue with the car's brake fluid system. It is a potentially dangerous problem that needs to be addressed immediately. 

Use It In A Sentence: "My mechanic determined that there was air in the brake line, and that's why I felt like I had spongy brakes."

Mayo Under The Oil Cap

Meaning: When another liquid (usually water or condensation) mixes in with a car's engine oil, it can produce a thick, mayo-like substance under the cap. This white or beige gunk can indicate a serious problem with the vehicle's engine, such as a failed head gasket. 

Use It In A Sentence: "I found mayo under the oil cap after a blown gasket, and it cost me $1,000 to fix."

Excessive Play

Meaning: If you can turn the steering wheel more than an inch or so before the wheels rotate, that's excessive play. It means there is extra movement in the steering wheel, and it can be caused by various steering components.

Use It In A Sentence: "I had excessive play on the steering of my truck and it affected my ability to control the vehicle."

Diagnostic Check

Meaning: A diagnostic check assesses whether there are any problems with the vehicle. This is performed via a computer, which is connected to your vehicle to inspect the transmission, brakes, or engine.

Use It In A Sentence: "I had to get a diagnostic check done on my car when the 'check engine' light came on."