Defining and Simplifying Common Car Spec Sheet Terms

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The breadth, like the length, merely refers to the car’s measurements when measured cross-sectionally. Unlike size, increased width results in more interior space and more comfortable sitting, particularly for rear passengers. Aside from that, increasing the width enhances the straight-line stability in the same way as increasing the length. More breadth also implies more frontal area, increasing air resistance and slowing down the total peak speed. It’s also measured in millimeters, and the spec sheet will generally state whether or not the mirrors are included.


The height of an automobile is defined as the distance between its lowest point (where the tires make contact with the road) and the tallest point on the roof. Aside from headroom, the car’s height directly impacts the vehicle’s handling. A taller automobile will have a higher center of gravity, less down-force, and greater body roll than a shorter car. As a result, when pushed into turns, a higher automobile will feel highly unsettled. This is why all sports vehicles have low-slung body structures to turn very quickly.


We’ll get into the more technical phrases found on the car’s specification sheet. The wheelbase is the distance between the vehicle’s front and rear wheel centers. Unlike length, the wheelbase may be utilized to estimate interior space. A car with a longer wheelbase will feel more grounded on straight roads but will go slower around corners. Vehicles with a shorter wheelbase will have better handling but feel less stable on the straights. The wheelbase influences these characteristics, which directly impacts the turning radius, as we shall see in the next paragraph.

Radius of rotation

A car’s turning radius is a measure of its manoeuvrability and flickability. It is defined as the lowest diameter semi-circle that the automobile must make to perform a full U-Turn. As we described in the preceding paragraph, the turning radius is mostly controlled by the car’s wheelbase, and the turning radius is used to assess the vehicle’s maneuvering skills. Vehicles with a smaller turning radius will always be simpler to maneuver in congested areas. Vehicles with a larger turning radius, on the other hand, may feel more clumsy in crowded areas since they will need more room to execute any maneuver.

Space for the Boot

One of the more specific words on the automotive spec sheet is boot space. The boot space determines how much luggage may be stored in the car’s trunk. If your vehicle has split rear seats, the trunk capacity increases dramatically. Due to the lack of a distinct cargo compartment, hatchbacks and 5-seater SUVs frequently use this feature to increase their luggage storage capacity. The size of the boot is always expressed in liters.

Clearance of the Ground

Ground clearance is the distance between the lowest point of the automobile body (without the wheels) and a leveled ground surface underneath it. Ground clearance has a big impact on off-road capabilities and handling. Naturally, with greater space between the ground and your car’s underbody, you’ll be able to handle larger obstacles without them colliding with the car’s base. Ground clearance, like height, has an impact on handling. Reduced ground clearance lowers your car’s size and reduces body roll, giving it better and more stable handling.

Weight of the Kerb

Curb weight is a fairly basic yet sometimes misunderstood word on the automotive spec sheet. If you look at any car’s spec sheet or brochure, you’ll note that the importance is never stated separately; it’s either in curb or gross weight. The curb weight of an automobile is the vehicle’s weight without passengers or cargo. It takes into account all of the car’s components, as well as the nominal amounts of gasoline and other fluids.

Configuring the Engine

We’ll look at phrases from the automobile spec sheet that apply to the engine, which is the heart of your vehicle. The engine setup is the first topic we’ll go through, and the arrangement and alignment of the engine’s key components are referred to as configuration. It is primarily separated into three characteristics:

Amount of Cylinders

The number of combustion chambers in the engine is referred to as this. Most automobiles in India have three- or four-cylinder engines. 4 cylinder engines are smoother, perform better, and are typically more expensive. Three-cylinder engines are more fuel-efficient and have lower operating expenses than four-cylinder engines, but they lack the refinement of 4 cylinder engines. The changes are detailed in our dedicated post, which you can find here.

The number of cylinders of an automobile is defined on the cars24 spec sheet.

Valves (number)

The number of valves refers to the number of apertures on each cylinder that allow air to be introduced or exhaust gases to be removed. Almost all automobiles use a four-valve system (2 for intake and 2 for exhaust). 2 valve layouts were quite popular in the previous decade. Still, they have almost totally been supplanted by their newer four-valve counterparts. A few high-performance automobiles have 5-valve engines (3 intakes and two exhausts).

Type of Valvetrain

The alignment of the camshafts inside the engine head is called the valvetrain. There are two types: SOHC (Single Overhead Camshaft) and DOHC (Double Overhead Camshaft) (Dual Overhead Camshafts). A single camshaft actuates the intake and exhaust valves in a SOHC valvetrain, and this is accomplished by using rocker arms connected to the valves on each side of the camshaft. Two camshafts, one for the intake valves and the other for the exhaust valves, are used in a DOHC valvetrain. In general, a DOHC configuration is better than a SOHC configuration. The contact between the cam and the valves is direct in a DOHC, which improves accuracy, timing, and performance. A well-adjusted SOHC valvetrain can perform as well as or better than a DOHC valvetrain, although the DOHC is preferred in its most basic form.


The engine displacement refers to the total accessible capacity in the engine cylinders in physical terms, and it’s the total of each combustion chamber’s separate air volumes. It is often known as cubic capacity (cc) and is measured in cubic centimeters. The displacement of your automobile has a direct impact on its performance. More removal provides higher room for the engine to burn fuel, which equals more power. Machines with a smaller displacement consume less gasoline, resulting in lower performance but higher fuel economy. On certain automotive spec sheets, displacement is expressed in liters (1000cc Equals 1 liter).

Torque Maximum

The entire rotational force exerted by the engine on your automobile’s wheels is known as torque. The highest amount of torque that the machine can produce is maxed torque. Because this peak value develops only at a specific RPM, it is commonly referred to as “X” Nm at “Y” RPM (e.g., 233Nm at 3400RPM). The torque of an engine’s powerband determines its pulling capability and adaptability. More torque implies the engine runs at a lower RPM and can pull a lot of weight regardless of the RPM.

As a result, you won’t have to downshift as much to stay in the good powerband. Even if you are gear or two higher, the considerable torque provided will allow the car to accelerate easily with its pulling force. As a result, diesel-powered vehicles and SUVs are better suited to highway travel over long distances. Cars with a lot of torque tend to prefer the lower end of the RPM range. Nm, or Newton-meters, is the unit of torque measurement.

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