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Car Safety Features: What They Mean

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 19 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
Abbreviated Acronyms Abs Ebd And Eba Awd

Sometimes reading about the features that certain cars have, can leave you feeling a bit bewildered.

As technology gets better - the names of things get more long and complicated, and so end up being abbreviated into a couple of letters, or made into acronyms than mean absolutely nothing to anyone outside of the motoring industry.

But fear not! We're here to help and we'll keep it nice and simple:

ABS with EBD and EBA

You'll probably have heard of ABS. That refers to an anti-lock brake system - although the abbreviation is actually thought to come from the German phrase 'anti-blockier system'.

ABS - Anti-lock braking systems have been around for some time now. They can help decrease your stopping distance by preventing your car wheels from locking up. The system quickly pumps the breaks for you if it senses that they are about to lock, and allows you to concentrate on getting the car back into a safe position. It can feel like the brake has 'given way' and when the ABS kicks in, it can result a series of rather worrying sounds, but don't let it get to you. Keep your foot down and let the ABS do its job.

EBD - Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is fitted to many cars with ABS, as it gives more braking power to the wheels with the most grip. This helps to stop the car from spinning and reduces stopping distances greatly - especially on slippery surfaces.

EBA - Electronic Brake Assist is useful when in an emergency braking situation. When in these circumstances, many drivers will apply less pressure than the car can handle. EBA will detect this and apply full brakes until the driver takes the pressure off the brake pedal.

Wheel Power : AWD, AWD, 4WD, 2WD, FWD, RWD

You probably know what a 4WD is, or at least know the term. Anything with WD behind it will likely refer to the number of wheels on the vehicle that have power delivered to them from the engine.

If a car is AWD - it's all wheel drive. If it's 4WD then it's 4 wheel drive, and this means that all four wheels have power - providing better traction on slippery roads and makes it better at going off-road. If 2WD then it means that only the two front wheels have power. It's not as safe as 4WD or AWD, but can be more economical in terms of fuel usage.

There is also RWD (rear-wheel drive) and FWD (forward-wheel drive and not to be confused with 4WD) which mean that the power is only fed to the rear or front wheels. You do need to know if your car falls into one of these categories as it will affect the way it handles - FWD cars tend to be less prone to slipping as the front tyre pulls the car around corners, but RWD are more popular with performance fans - although more likely to slip in bad conditions, they do handle better on dry pavements.

Finding Your Way: GPS, Sat Nav

Sat Nav stands for Satellite Navigation Systems - also known as 'Sat Nav' or sometimes just 'Nav'.

GPS stands for Global Positioning Satellite system - which shows you exactly where you are at any time.

Ok, so we've covered the easy bits - now we're moving onto the engine, so buckle up and hold tight - this is where it gets a bit more complicated.

Engines: Four Cylinder, V6, V8, V10

This refers to the number of cylinders inside the engine. 'Inline' is sometimes used to demonstrate that the cylinders are lined up in a row, while 'V6' or 'V8' means that they are lined up to make a V-shaped pattern.

1.6L, 1.6-Litre, bhp, 16v, 16 Valve

1.6 litre is the actual size of the engine which is usually measured in litres. It is the total volume of the engines cylinders where the pistons travel.

This number varies greatly depending on the type and size of the car you are looking at.

The lower the engine size, then generally, the better mileage you will get. The higher the engine size, the more power you will get.

If you see 'bhp' used to describe a car, this is a horsepower rating (brake-horsepower). This is used to show how powerful an engine is - the more horsepower, the quicker the acceleration and the lower fuel mileage.

If you hear 16-valve it refers to this:

All internal combustion engines have at least 2 valves per cylinder - one for intake of air and fuel, and another for exhaust products.

Adding more valves can improve the flow of intake and exhaust gases, and potentially improves efficiency, power, and performance.

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