How to Communicate Car Problems to Your Mechanic

When you bring your car in to Christian Brothers Automotive in Riverview our goal is to learn exactly what is going on with your car so we can repair it as quickly as possible. To get us focused on the correct vehicle system, we recommend you use the terms below so we have a common understanding. As an added benefit, use of these terms may limit the need to make funny noises/motions as you describe what is going on with your car. Of course, if you are a budding actress or actor we don't mind the creative hand motions and noises to describe your car's symptoms.

  • Backfire. A gunshot-like sound that comes from the engine or tailpipe.
  • Bottoming: Excessive noise or harshness that’s usually felt through the steering wheel or passenger compartment when going over bumps.
  • Bucking: This is felt when the engine hesitates or the transmission slips as it changes gears and the vehicle lurches.
  • Dieseling: What occurs when an engine continues to burn fuel and runs briefly after the car has been switched off.
  • Hesitation: A brief loss of power upon acceleration.
  • Knocking: Also known as “detonation,” this is a rapid rattling that’s heard upon acceleration.
  • Misfire: Hesitation that occurs when fuel in one or more of an engine’s cylinders fails to ignite properly.
  • Shimmy: A side-to-side motion that can be felt through the tires and/or steering wheel.
  • Sluggish: How a car feels when it’s not accelerating smoothly or strongly enough.
  • Surge: A sudden, usually upward, change in the engine’s speed.