Capri Definitions

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



    Safety Restraint Systems

Devices that reduce injury in the event of a accident. Typical examples include safety belts and airbags.


A vehicle registered in the previous year but not re-registered in the current year.

    Scrub Radius

The distance from the point where the steering axis intersects the ground to the longitudinal line that runs through the center of the tire's contact patch. Also called "steering offset."

    Sealed Beam

A one-piece, hermetically sealed headlight in which the filament is an integral part of the unit, and the lens itself is the bulb.


Most people think of wax for protecting their car's paint, but the car care industry is full of paint sealants, as well. A sealant is a non-organic based coating used to seal paint with a thin barrier. Most sealants are acrylic polymer formulas that out-shine and out last all but the most expensive waxes.


A closed, fixed-roof car for four or more passengers with either two or four doors. (Called saloon in U.K.)

    Selective Transmission

Conventional manual transmission of today in which any gear may be selected at will as opposed to the very early progressive transmission in which the gears had to be selected in order.

    Semi-Elliptic Leaf Spring

A slightly curved leaf spring that is attached to a car's body at its ends and to a suspension component near its middle. One of the two body attachments is a shackle, which allows for changes in the spring's length as it flexes up and down.

    Semi-Trailing-Arm Suspension

An independent rear-suspension system in which each wheel hub is located only by a large, roughly triangular arm that pivots at two points. Viewed from the top, the line formed by the two pivots is somewhere between parallel and perpendicular to the car's longitudinal axis.


The numerical representation of a tire's aspect ratio. A 50-series tire has an aspect ratio of 0.50.


Detailers use special soaps and cleaners to shampoo carpet and fabric upholstery. Soft scrub brushes are used to get into the fibers and dislodge the dirt. Shampooing is the only way to remove ground in dirt and stains that vacuuming will not remove.

    Shift Gate

The mechanism in a transmission linkage that controls the motion of the gearshift lever. The shift gate is usually an internal mechanism; however, in some transmissions: including Ferrari five-speeds and Mercedes-Benz automatics : the shift gate is an exposed guide around the shift lever.


Older-style part-time Four-Wheel drive systems sometimes required drivers to stop and lock the front hubs before engaging four-wheel drive. Most SUVs now have automatic locking front hubs and the ability to shift "on-the-fly" (at speed) from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. However, many limit the speed at which this can be done (usually less than 50 mph and sometimes as low as 15 mph), and many still require the driver to stop and back up to fully disengage Four-Wheel drive.

    Shock absorber

A device that converts motion into heat, usually by forcing oil through small internal passages in a tubular housing. Used primarily to dampen suspension oscillations, shock absorbers respond to motion; their effects, therefore, are most obvious in transient maneuvers.

    Short Block

Usually means the engine below the head; that is the block, crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, oil pan, etc.


A chemical compound with excellent water repellency and a slippery feel. Silicones are commonly used in automotive waxes to enhance application and ease of removal, and to increase gloss and durability. Must be used with care around fresh paint as contamination of the painted surface may occur.

    Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC)

A  SOHC engine uses one camshaft in each cylinder head to operate both the exhaust valves and the intake valves.

    Single-Rate Spring

A spring with a constant spring rate. For example, if a 100-pound force deflects the spring by one inch, an additional 100 pounds will deflect it one more inch, and so on until the spring either bottoms or fails.

    Single Stage Paint

A paint that does not have a clear top coat. For example, the colored (pigmented) top coat paint that was applied to most older vehicles (and some newer vehicles) at the factory is single stage paint. 3M car care products that are marked "clear coat safe" may also be used on single stage paints.


A large area of smooth, flat pavement used for various handling tests.


This term refers to a protective cover or "plate" under a vehicle that covers vulnerable components, such as the transmission/transfer gearbox, engine oil pan or fuel tank.

    Slip angle

The angular difference between the direction in which a tire is rolling and the plane of its wheel. Slip angle is caused by deflections in the tire's sidewall and tread during cornering. A linear relationship between slip angles and cornering forces indicates an easily controllable tire.


A slang for an automatic transmission.

    Small Block

V-8 engines of 350, 327, 265 and smaller cubic-inch displacement. The smaller displacement doesn't allow for a lot of fuel but being a lighter engine also means the car isn't as heavy to move.

    Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)

The professional association of transportation-industry engineers. The SAE sets most auto-industry standard for the testing, measuring, and designing of automobiles and their components.

    Space Frame

A particular kind of tube frame that consists exclusively of relatively short, small-diameter tubes. The tubes are welded together in a configuration that loads them primarily in tension and compression.

    Spark Plug

The spark plug converts high voltage energy into an arc that passes between its electrodes. The arc causes the gasoline-air mixture in the cylinder to ignite and expand, providing power by pushing down the piston.


An aerodynamic device that changes the direction of airflow in order to reduce lift or aerodynamic drag and/or improve engine cooling.

    Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)

A truck-based vehicle with an solid enclosed bed and one or more rows of rear seats.

    Sports Car

An agile vehicle that is easily maneuverable, accelerates briskly, brakes positively, handles well and steers precisely. It is tightly sprung and does not wallow and heave as does a conventional passenger car and is therefore not as comfortable.


Or Spider In the early 1900s, a light two-seater car. In the 1950s the word was revived by some Italian manufacturers for an open two seater sports car.


The opposite of dive, squat is the dipping of a car's rear end that occurs during hard acceleration. Squat is caused by a load transfer from the front to the rear suspension.


A process technology which manufactures automotive parts by shaping rolled sheet metal or by bending or stretching it in a sequence of purpose-built tools fitted to a general purpose press.

    Starter Motor

A motor powered by the battery that rotates the crankshaft before the engine is started.

    Steering Axis

The line that intersects the upper and lower steering pivots on a steered wheel. On a car with a strut suspension, the steering axis is defined by the line through the strut mount on top and the ball joint on the bottom.

    Steering Feel

The general relationship between forces at the steering wheel and handling. Ideally, the steering effort should increase smoothly as the wheel is rotated away from center. In addition, the steering effort should build as the cornering forces at the steered wheels increase. Finally, the friction built into the steering mechanism should be small in comparison with the handling-related steering forces.

    Steering Gain

The relationship between yaw and the steering wheel's position and effort. All three should be proportional and should build up smoothly.

    Steering Geometry

The group of design variables outside the steering mechanism that affect steering behavior, including camber, caster, linkage arrangement, ride steer, scrub radius, toe-in, and trail.

    Steering Response

A subjective term that combines steering feel and steering gain.

    Steering, Power

Assist provided by the engine to reduce steering effort. Power steering is essential to make large, heavy vehicles manageable. Small vehicles often do not require power steering.

    Straight-Line Tracking

The ability of a car to resist road irregularities and run in a straight line without steering corrections.


The distance between the extremes of a piston's travel in a cylinder.


A suspension element in which a reinforced shock absorber is used as one of the wheel's locating members, typically by solidly bolting the wheel hub to the bottom end of the strut.

    Sub Frame

A sub frame is a small, separate frame usually attached to a unitized-body vehicle. A front sub frame might be used to "cradle" the engine and transmission, while a rear sub frame would attach the rear suspension to the unibody structure.


The space in the engine block under the crankshaft into which the oil drains from its various applications.

    Super Sport (SS)

First pioneered as a performance vehicle version by Chevrolet, SS stands for SS. This was used for all the performance versions until the Z-Series performance name came around.


An air compressor used to force more air into an engine than it can inhale on its own. The term is frequently applied only to mechanically driven compressors, but it actually encompasses all varieties of compressors-including turbochargers.

    Suspension Travel

This term refers to the amount of vertical wheel movement allowed by the suspension, from full jounce to full rebound.

    Swirl Marks

Washing and drying with rough or synthetic towels, dry wiping dirt across the paint, or covering your car when it's dusty will create micro scratches (marring). These micro scratches often look like swirls (arcs), and thus the name swirl marks.

Back To Top