Japanese car acronyms


Graphic introducing car acronyms with a play on a popular British saying, with a background of a Japanese car auction sheet.Car acronyms explained!

Importing cars from Japan involves reading a lot of acronyms.  You might find car acronyms:

  • On a Japanese car auction sheet.
  • On import/export quotes and paperwork.
  • In car literature and advertisements.

I’ve put together a list of the acronyms I’ve encountered whilst buying and importing cars from Japan.  I knew some of them before I started and you probably will too, but I’ve picked most of them up along the way.

Not all will be relevant to everyone.  Some only really apply to performance cars.  In any case I hope you find them useful.  The table is searchable so you don’t need to trawl through the entire list.

AcronymStands forExplanation
AACAutomatic air conditioningIn the UK we'd call this climate control. The car interior is maintained at a set temperature and the car heats or cools to reach this temperature.
AAWAftermarket alloy wheelsThe car has non-standard alloy wheels.
ABSAnti-lock braking systemSystem to reduce wheels locking up under heavy braking.
ACAir conditioningStandard air conditioning where the driver adjusts the temperature of the air blower to suit.
ATAutomatic transmissionCan be preceeded by a number to indicate the number of gears in the transmission.
ATTESAAdvanced total traction engineering system for all-terrain.Nissan variable four wheel drive system.
AWAlloy wheelsUsually refers to original equipment alloy wheels.
AYCActive yaw controlSystem developed by Mitsubishi to optimise torque to the rear wheels.
BOLBill of lading / loadingDocument given by a shipping company on receipt of cargo. Details identity of shipper and consignee.
BOVBlow off valveRelieves pressure in the intake manifold of a turbocharged engine when the throttle is closed. Reduces turbo wear, reduces turbo lag & makes a very satisfying noise.
CATColumn automatic transmissionAutomatic transmission where the gear lever is on the steering column.
CIFCost, insurance and freightMeans of international shipping where the supplier invoice cost covers the cost of the item itself, shipping to the destination and insurance.
CVTConstant velocity transmission.Gearbox where drive is transmitted between engine and wheels using a metal belt running on pulleys with variable diameter. Similar concept to moped/scooter transmission.
DCTDual clutch transmissionOdd and even gears are engaged by separate clutches. Results in faster, smoother gear shifts than a standard automatic transmission.
EBDElectronic brakeforce distributionSystem to maximise braking and minimise wheel locking by distributing braking force. An addition to ABS, which releases braking pressure to a wheel that has locked.
EMElectric mirrors
ETCElectronic toll collectionCommonly seen on auction listings. A small black box of electronics commonly fitted on the lower dashboard. Enables electronic collection of tolls without the driver having to stop and pay.
EWElectric windows
F*Manual transmissionWhere * = the number of forward gears.
FATFloor automatic transmission.Automatic transmission where the gear lever is floor mounted.
FCC (FCD)Fuel cut controller (fuel cut defencer)When turbo boost is raised to increase engine performance, the ECU can cut the fuel pressure to prevent damage. This device tells the engine the boost pressure is lower than it actually is, to stop this cut in fuel pressure.
FFFront frontEngine in the front, front wheel drive.
FMICFront mount intercoolerRefers to the location of the intercooler on a turbocharged car. It is mounted on the front of the car, usually in front of the radiator and as low as possible to take maximum advantage of cooler air. More efficient than a TMIC due to greater airflow.
FOBFreight / free on boardCosts involved in buying a car and getting it on board a boat. Doesn't just apply to cars.
FRFront rearEngine in the front, rear wheel drive
HICASHigh capacity actively controlled steeringNissan system of rear wheel steering to improve handling.
HIDHigh intensity dischargeA type of head light bulb, emitting more light and using less power than a standard halogen headlight bulb.
IVAIndividual vehicle approvalTest required prior to registration when importing vehicles under 10 years old into the UK.
LATCHLower anchors and tethers for childrenUS acronym for the international standard child car safety seat mounting points we call isofix in the UK & Europe.
MDMini discFeatures on a lot of car stereos in cars made in the early to mid 2000s. Didn't really take off in the UK: the Betamax of the music world (with compact disc being VHS).
MRMiddle rearEngine in the middle, rear wheel drive
MTManual transmissionCan be preceeded by a number to indicate the number of gears in the transmission.
PAS or PSPower (assisted) steering
PWPower windows
SRSun roof
STiSubaru Tecnica InternationalMotorsport division of Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru.
TEMSToyota Electronic Modulated SuspensionSystem fitted to high specification Toyota cars with independent front and rear suspension. The damping force can be adjusted by the driver, or automatically by the car, to suit road and driving conditions.
TMICTop mount intercoolerRefers to the location of the intercooler (on top of the engine) on a turbocharged car. Look for the bonnet scoop to direct air over it.
VTECValve timing electronic controlHonda system using 2 different valve cam profiles to give larger valve opening (and therefore more power) at higher RPM.
VVTiVariable valve timing with intelligenceToyota system to vary the timing of engine intake valve opening to improve fuel efficiency.

Encountered car acronyms not on the list?  Post a comment below and I’ll add them!

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