There are a lot of acronyms to be found in your car: on the dashboard, in the pages of the owner's manual, or under the hood. They can be hard to keep track of, but all of them are necessary to keep your car running the way it deserves to. A little knowledge goes a long way, after all. If you forget what each acronym means, here's the full suite of innovations you might expect from a fancy new car—all explained letter by letter.
Adaptive Cruise Control. Detects cars ahead, slows down so you don't hit them, and speeds back up to your chosen speed when clear. This is one of those features you can see gaining traction as the industry moves towards more autonomous cars.
Blind Spot Detection. Cameras or sensors on a car's side mirrors detect things in your blind spot, for when a mirror just isn't enough.
In precise order: Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Stability Program. Different manufacturers offer different names. But you'll be happy you have this if your car loses its grip on the road. The technology will kick in automatically where it might brake a wheel or cut spark to help you regain traction.
Forward Collision Warning. If your car sees an obstacle ahead it lights up warning lights, firms up the brakes for maximum stopping force, and beeps furiously. Pay attention! Forward Collision Assist (FCA) adds the ability for your car to intervene automatically.
Heads Up Display. Fighter-jet technology in your car allows for speed, navigation and engine information to be displayed right in your windshield, which means you'll have no excuse for telling the cops that you didn't know how fast you were going. You can keep your eye on the road and switch your radio station. Here's how it works.
Lane Departure Warning. Cameras mounted on the sides of the car can detect the sides of the lane you're in, and warn you with a friendly beep or steering wheel vibration if you're about to go out of bounds.
Lane Keep Assist. Building on the alerts provided by Lane Departure Warning, your car can not only detect when you're about to cross a lane, but also gently nudge you back to safety.
Traction Control System. There's a few of these names floating around for the electronic system that intervenes to prevent your car from skidding. Whether it goes by traction control or anti-slip regulation, it works the same way, monitoring relative speed between the wheels, and activating the brakes or reducing engine power to curb wheelspin.
Hill Descent Control. Now that computers control every facet of our automotive lives, it should be no surprise that the hardcore off-roaders at Jeep and Land Rover have harnessed the power of electronics. When heading down a steep incline, sensors determine the speed of each wheel, which can then apply and release the brake independently to allow for a smooth descent, automatically. The driver doesn't even have to touch the brakes.
On-board diagnostics. (Not a member of .) When your Check Engine Light goes on, a mechanic will plug in an OBD reader. The car will spit out a code, which tells the mechanic what the issue is. On-board computers became standard alongside computer-controlled fuel injection, and the OBD-II standard has been mandatory on cars built after 1996.