Learn English Talking About Cars


In today’s episode I would like to introduce you to some new terms related to cars. There will be a time when you would need to see a mechanic about your car problems and you would need to be able to explain basic things about your car. Hope you enjoy today’s episode :)

Transcript below


Hola amigos, you are listening to English Made Simple, this is episode number #84, numero ochenta y cuatro.

Welcome to the English Made Simple podcast, my name is Milena from www.www.englishmadesimple.net and you are listening to episode #84, wow.

Welcome to my regular listeners who are tuning in (SINTONIZANDO) for the 84th time to listen to me blab or talk, and also welcome to my new listeners who are joining us for the very first time. Welcome aboard guys

How’s it hanging amigos? Hope everything is going well!

Let me begin by asking you some questions: How many of you drive? How many of you own a vehicle? A vehicle could be anything: a car or a motor vehicle, a motorcycle, a pickup truck, a 4-wheel drive (UN AUTO CUATRO POR CUATRO) like the Jeep for example, vans or combis (FURGONES O FURGONETAS).

Vehicle is a thing used for transporting people or goods. There is a silent H in this word.
Vehicle – Vi:ikl. It’s spelt as V E H I C L E.


I’ve had 5 different cars in my life so far, they were all second-hand cars or used cars. At the moment, I drive a car called Ford Fiesta, the model is Fiesta. I bought it brand new 6 years ago, because I liked the colour of the car, I liked the sky blue colour. The reason I decided to buy a brand new car as well, in the first place was because I had so many problems with second-hand cars in the past.
This is a new term for you guys: secondhand or used cars (AUTOS DE SEGUNDA MANO O USADOS) – these two terms mean the car is not new. When you say the car is secondhand it means it is not new.

The first car I owned was a Mitsubishi Mirage 1981 model. That’s the year I was born in. And as you can imagine, that was a very very old car. This car gave me so much trouble, I had so many problems with this car. It would break down every month or so. I had to sell it so that I could buy another car. And guess what? I bought another Mitsubishi, a-ha…. I know. You’d think I’d learnt my lesson but nope.

By owning these used cars, I got myself familiarised with everything that could possibly go wrong with a car.

So in today’s episode I would like to introduce you to some new terms related to cars. There will be a time when you would need to see a mechanic about your car problems and you would need to be able to explain basic things about your car. We will learn the names of each component of the car chassis – chassis is a word that describes the body of the car.
And we will also learn different ways of saying that your car doesn’t work.
Alrighty? This episode is jam-packed full of new words, hopefully it will help you expand your vocabulary.

Now… I want you to pay attention now to new words coming your way, so listen carefully…
A car could break down – not work or not function for whatever reason We say: Oh, my car broke down yesterday (QUEDÉ EN PANA). It means, your car just doesn’t work, it stopped working.
To break is an irregular verb, the past tense is broke and the participle – broken.

By the way, break sounds the same as brake which is spelt differently. BRAKE means frenar to slow down a moving car by stepping on a brake pedal. And the verb To break means romper o quiebrar. To snap or shatter or smash.

It’s easy to confuse the two words as they sound the same but they are spelt differently.
Anyway, to break down is a phrasal verb – so it’s 2 words here, break and down. To break down.
Don’t you love phrasal verbs? I love them. I really love them. Of course I don’t. I love chocolate but that’s beside the point.

And breakdown when spelt as one word is a noun and it means collapse, malfunction, failure or in Spanish just means pana. A breakdown.

So let’s continue. The basics are out of the way.

A car could break down for whatever reason, for example:
A car could have a flat tyre. Rueda desinflada o con poco aire. Basically, a deflated tyre.
A car could have a punctured tyre. Rueda pinchada. You could have a puncture in the tyre that lets the air out and slowly deflates your tyre.

Let me ask you this: How many of you have had a flat car battery (O SE HAN QUEDADO SIN BATERIA).

I assume the majority of listeners drive… I actually had a flat battery about 3 times in my life, once during a storm (durante una tormenta) when I left my lights on while I went shopping. Oh Man! Well that was a stupid thing to do! It used up all the battery and when I got back to my car, tried to start the car (IN SPANISH WE USE DAR CONTACTO AL AUTO), all I could hear was CLICK CLICK, and I thought to myself Oh You mofo, Fudge Sugar, you stupid idiot you left your lights on. That was me being polite. I used different words at the time which I will not repeat in this episode,

Ok don’t judge me (NO ME JUZGUEN), I don’t think I am the only person here who has had this experience before, c’mon….We all had moments like this.

So now that that’s out of the way….. Here are some useful phrases for you to remember here:
My car battery is flat or My battery is dead – you can use those two expressions to explain that your battery is not working, it is used up – or empty.

If you happen to find yourselves in this type of a situation, you have 2 options to start the car:
If you have a manual transmission you can push-start your car (PUEDES EMPEZAR A EMPUJAR EL AUTO) to get it running. Get someone to help you physically push the car so you can start your car manually that way. That’s what I mean by push-start.

If you have an automatic transmission you can jump start your car with something called jumper leads (ESOS CABLES PARA HACER PUENTE EN TU BATERÍA DESDE OTRO AUTO).
No matter what type of car you have, you should always have a set of jumper leads in the boot of your car (EN LA MALETA O MALETERA DE TU AUTO). And a spare tyre should be in there as well. In the boot…you usually keep your spare tyre in the boot.

So the new terms here are: You can have a manual transmission or an automatic transmission.

The word “Transmission” is where you change gears (PASAS/PASAR CAMBIOSO CAMBIAR VELOCIDADES). If you have an automatic transmission it will automatically change gears for you – this is great for city driving because you don’t have to change gears every couple of minutes, the manual transmission on the other hand is manual as the name suggests, and you would have to press the clutch with your feet to change the gear (PEDAL DE EMBRIAGE) That’s Spanish word for clutch.

BTW Feet is a plural form of foot, foot is singular. You should change gears with one foot, either left or right. I change gears by pressing the clutch with my left foot because I drive in Australia.

A manual transmission is also known as a manual gearbox (CAJA DE CAMBIOS MANUAL).

Useful phrase for you guys here to remember here is:
Spare tyre – means an extra tyre, you usually keep in the boot of your car (RUEDA DE REPUESTO).
Tyre is a funny word.

Tyre is spelt differently in the UK and the US. Tire and Tyre. In the US it’s spelt as T I RE.
The phrase Jumper leads is common in Australian and British English.
Jumper cables is more common in the US.

For my non Spanish listeners, jumper leads are cables that you use to connect your battery with another car’s battery in order to start your car. You use it when your car battery is flat.

So more new terms coming your way. I suggest you have an extra shot of espresso coffee, there will be a lot of new words here. Let’s learn some new words about different components of a car, more specifically words that describe body of your car or the chassis.

A typical car will have:
A bonnet or a hood – I heard these 2 words used interchangeably (CAPÓ in Spanish).
Windshield or a windscreen – two words here, both are ok. (PARABRISAS)
Every car will have a Registration plates (PATENTE DEL AUTO)

Inside the car we have:
A steering wheel (MANUBRIO O VOLANTE) – we use it to turn the car left or right.
Seat Belts (CINTURONES DE SEGURIDAD) – when we put seat belts on.
Rear view mirror (ESPEJO RETROVISOR)

Ok that’s enough for now, I don’t want you to go cross-eyed (NO QUIERO QUE QUEDEN TURNEOS), or get confused.

I will make it easy for you guys and share something in the Facebook group that will help you understand this a bit better, it will help you understand different car components better.
Cool! Check out the Facebook group for that.

Alrighty guys, now….
When would you go to see a mechanic (MECÁNICO) or take your car for breakdown service (VULCANIZACIÓN O SERVICIO TÉCNICO)?

· You can take your car to the mechanic when it is due for a regular car service. This is when the mechanic does a basic check of your car, they will replace the oil and oil filter (FILTRO DE ACEITE), maybe air filter (FILTRO DE AIRE) as well. They will perform a visual inspection of your car. They will inspect your brake pads (PATILLAS DE FRENO), check your tyres (RUEDAS), they will top up (LLENAR) all the important fluids in the engine (MOTOR)

· You can also take your car to the mechanic when your car breaks down. If it happens that you are not able to drive yourself to the mechanic you can organise a tow truck (CAMIÓN GRÚA O CAMIÓN TIPO GRÚA) to move your car and take it to the mechanic..

· You can see a mechanic if you have been involved in a car crash (EN UN CHOQUE). If you had a car accident (ACCIDENTE AUTOMOVILÍSTICO). In this case you will go to someone called a panel beater (UN DESABOLLADOR O IR A UNA DESABOLLADURÍA). Your car is made up of panels and when one of these panels become dented or scratched (CUANDO SE ABOLLAN ESTOS PANELES) you would go to a panel beater and they will fix it for you.

Well, those were some of the reasons you would go to the mechanic for. Those were some of the reasons I had to go to see my mechanic about in the past.

And now I am thinking, my car is definitely due for another service soon (Mi AUTO TIENE LA REVISIÓN TÉCNICA VENCIDA).

So many new words for you in today’s episode! I hope you enjoyed today’s show. The show will definitely appeal to some petrolheads listening to the show.

I don’t see many English textbooks teaching about driving terms and names of different car components or car parts. I know this was something we had to learn by ourselves when we lived in New Zealand. We had to learn all this by ourselves, when I say WE I mean my family, and now I want you to know this as well.

Oh so I mentioned something like petrolheads

What’s a petrolhead – “A person who is reliant on the use of their car, and not interested in using other means of transport.” A quote from weon inteligente, or the online dictionary. (In Spanish this LOS CABEZA DE TUERCA) Petrolhead.

Honestly, I prefer cars over public transport. That’s my preference. I don’t like public transport much. Having said this, we will talk about the Public transport next week and How to ask for directions, as suggested by a couple of my listeners. So tune in next week for that.

And my final words for you amigos: Please be careful on the roads, please drive with care, don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive and don’t speed for no reason.

You’ve been jamming with Milena from www.englishmadesimple.net
Until next time, Hasta la próxima!

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