Capri Definitions

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The roof support between a vehicle's rear side window and its rear window. The C-pillar is an integral part in the vehicle's structure.


A European term for convertible.


An acronym for Corporate Average Fuel Economy.


To check, test, or adjust the initial settings of a unit or system.


Non-rotational components of disc brakes that straddle the disc and contain hydraulic components forcing the brake pads against the rotor to slow or stop the vehicle.


An eccentric (off-center) lobe on a rotating shaft that is used to transmit a motion at a predetermined time during the rotation of the shaft. The profile of the cam dictates the characteristics of motion to the receiving component.

    Cam Profile

The shape of each lobe on a camshaft. The profile determines the amount (duration) of time the valve is open and the maximum opening (lift).


A shaft having lobes driven by the crankshaft via gears, chains, or belts that, in turn, opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves at proper intervals.

    Car Wash

A car wash or car shampoo is a cleaner used to remove surface contaminants from your vehicle. Some car wash products use detergents, alkalies or sodium, which can remove your wax or sealant. Without protection, paint oxidation will accelerate . You should use a car wash product that is pH balanced and contains gloss enhancing lubricants to buffer against scratching.

    Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

A harmless, odorless gas composed of carbon (C) and oxygen (O); a product of complete combustion.

    Carbon Fiber

Thread-like strands of pure carbon with very high tensile strength and are reasonably flexible. Carbon fiber is often bonded to plastic resin to form strong, light-weight, body panels. Its use is commonly limited to exotic sports cars because of its cost.

    Carbon Monoxide (CO)

An odorless gas composed of carbon (C) and hydrogen (H), formed by the incomplete combustion of any fuel containing carbon. This major air pollutant is potentially lethal if inhaled, even in small amounts.


A device through which air and fuel are atomized and drawn into the engine. It meters the proper proportions of fuel and air to form a combustible mixture and varies the ratio according to the engine operation. Air blowing over the fuel nozzles (jets) results in an air-fuel mixture burned in the cylinders. Carburetors were common on most vehicles before 1985.


Many quality waxes are made with a blend of Carnauba, a naturally water resistant wax derived from the Copernica Cerifera plant. Carnauba wax products come in a paste or liquid form and may be applied by hand or machine. In its natural state, Carnauba is rock hard. Wax makers use petroleum distillates to make it soft.


The angle between a vertical line and the car's steering axis when viewed from the side, measured in degrees and minutes.


A metal object formed to the required shape by pouring or injecting liquid metal into a mold.


A lead-sensitive substance, such as platinum, palladium, or rhodium, that accelerates or enhances a chemical reaction without being changed itself. When used in a catalytic converter, it can reduce the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust.

    Catalytic Converter

Often simply called a "catalyst": a stainless-steel canister fitted to a car's exhaust system that contains a thin layer of catalytic material spread over a large area of inert supports. The material used is some combination of platinum, rhodium, and palladium; it induces chemical reactions that convert an engine's exhaust emissions into less harmful products.

    Center Differential

A differential used in four-wheel-drive systems to distribute power to the front and rear differentials.

    Center Link

A steering linkage that is connected to the tie-rod ends that transfers the swinging motion of the gear arm to a linear, or back-and-forth, motion.

    Center of Gravity (CG)

The exact point around which an object, such as a vehicle, is perfectly balanced in every direction.


Cubic Feet per Minute of airflow. Most 4 barrel carbs flow ratings are taken at 1.5 inches of vacuum and 2 barrels are measured at 3 inches.


A general term that refers to all of the mechanical parts of a car attached to a structural frame.


A temporary restriction in a carburetor throat that reduces the flow of air and enriches the fuel-air mixture to aid in starting the engine.

    Cleaner Wax

A combination of wax and polish that contains mild abrasives. The abrasives remove minor paint imperfections. The wax and other ingredients produce a durable, high-gloss finish.

    Clear Coat

A hard, transparent coating that is applied to a painted surface to enhance the illusion of visual depth and/or protect the surface.

    Close Ratios

A transmission, usually used in drag racers, with close spacing between the speeds of the gears, allowing for minimum engine rpm reduction when shifting.


A mechanism that uses plates coated with a high-friction material to transfer power from the engine to the drive train. Clutches can be disengaged by depressing the clutch pedal to allow the gear selection to be changed. Manual transmission vehicles use a clutch to transfer power from the gearbox to the wheels. Air conditioning compressors use clutches as well to reduce the load on the engine when the compressor doesn't need to be rotated.

    Coefficient of Drag (Cx)

A measure of the air resistance of a moving vehicle; a measure of how much air is moved as the vehicle moves from one point to another.

    Coil Spring

A spring-steel bar or rod that is wound into the shape of a coil to provide an up-down springing effect. Found on most vehicle suspensions, these springs are used to support the car's weight, maintain height, and correctly position all other suspension parts, but are little help in supporting side-to-side or lateral movement.

    Combustion Chamber

The space within the cylinder when the piston is at the top of its travel. It is formed by the top of the piston and a cavity in the cylinder head. Since most of the air-fuel mixture's combustion takes place in this space, its design and shape can greatly affect the power, fuel efficiency, and emissions of the engine.


A slight resiliency, or "give," designed into suspension bushings to help absorb bumps. Good compliance allows the wheels to move rearward a bit as they hit bumps but doesn't allow them to move laterally during cornering.

    Component Assembly

A combination of two or more parts or sub-components to form an assembly


Any material that consists of two or more components, typically one or more of high strength and one an adhesive binder. The most common composite is fiberglass, which consists of thin glass fibers bonded together in a plastic matrix. The structural properties of composites can be altered by controlling the orientation and configuration of the high-strength components.


In internal-combustion reciprocating engines, the squeezing of the fuel-air mixture in the cylinder of a spark-ignition engine or the squeezing of the air in a diesel engine. Compression makes combustion more effective and increases engine efficiency.

    Compression Ratio

The ratio between the combined volume of a cylinder and a combustion chamber when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke, and the volume when the piston is at the top of its stroke. The higher the compression ratio, the more mechanical energy an engine can squeeze from its air-fuel mixture. Higher compression ratios, however, also make detonation more likely.

    Concept Vehicle

A current production vehicle modified for installation of new design concepts for evaluation of environmental functional feasibility.

    Concours d'Elegance

A French term that describes an auto show of classic and vintage cars.

    Connecting Rod

The metal rod that connects a piston to a throw on a crankshaft.

    Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

The most common type of CVT employs a steel belt and two pulleys. Rather than step among four or five gears of different sizes, the CVT varies the effective diameter of the drive pulley and driven pulley to create a broad range of drive ratios free of the shift feel of conventional transmissions. It varies these parameters at any time, at any engine or vehicle speed. These transmissions are not expected on these shores anytime soon, but Honda has offered a belt-drive CVT in the Civic HX since 1996 and will offer it on the Insight later in the 2001 model year. A new Saturn model will debut with a belt-drive CVT in 2002, and Audi’s chain-drive CVT arrives in the 2002 A6.

    Constant-Velocity Joint

A particular kind of universal joint designed so that there is no cyclic fluctuation between the speeds of its input and output shafts.


As you drive, or leave your car outside outside and uncovered, your car's paint collects dirt, grime, bird droppings, bug splats, water deposits, tar, oil and other substances. These substances contaminate your paint, reducing its brilliance and smooth feel. If left alone, paint contaminates will cause premature oxidation or may etch the paint.

    Control Arm

A suspension element that has one joint at one end and two joints at the other end, typically the chassis side. Also known as a wishbone or an A-arm.


Any car with a folding roof. Term used in U.S. since the 1930s. In the 1950s, the "hardtop convertible" was developed to look like a convertible but had a fixed roof that did not fold. Also called a drophead coupé.

    Cornering Limit

The maximum speed at which a car can negotiate a given curve.


A closed car with two side doors and less than 33 cubic feet of rear interior volume, according to measurements based on an SAE standard. A two-door car is therefore not necessarily a coupe.


A protective cover for mechanical components. Often used for engines, fans, etc. That part of a car's body between the engine compartment and the driver.


A pan or box that encloses the bottom of the engine, supports the crankshaft, and contains the oil for the engine.


A shaft with one or more cranks, or "throws," that are coupled by connecting rods to the engine's pistons. Together, the crankshaft and the con rods transform the pistons' reciprocating motion into rotary motion.

    Crash Sensor

Normally open, gold-plated, electrical switches that are designed to close when subjected to a predetermined impact.

    Cubic Centimeter (CC)

European, metric, and competition measure of engine displacement 1,000 cc = 1 liter, which equals about 61 cubic inches.

    Cubic Inch (CI)

U.S. measure of engine displacement 1 cubic inch = 16.387 cc.

    Curb Weight

The weight of an empty vehicle, without cargo and driver and passengers, but including maximum amounts of fuel, oil, coolant and standard equipment, including the spare tire and tools.

    Cured Paint

Paints that have completed the curing process. Cured paints include all factory-applied paints and refinish paints that have air dried for more than 30 days. Wax application is recommended only for cured paints.

    Custom Car

An automobile that has been restyled, or an all-new body fitted on an existing chassis.

    CV Joint

A shortened version of constant velocity joint.


The round, straight-sided cavity in which the pistons move up and down. Typically made of cast iron and formed as a part of the block.

    Cylinder Head

That part of the engine that covers the cylinders and pistons.

    Cylinder Liner

The circular housing that the piston moves in when the cylinder is not an integral part of the block. Also known as a "sleeve."

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