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Abbreviations - OMG cars are bad enough... now texting?


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One of the techs came into the office some time ago to explain some crazy readings he was getting after hooking up to the DLC with the NGS. As he was explaining the problem, a very inquisitive customer was sitting at the counter waiting for an LOF. The mechanic and I discussed the test results and worked out a way to narrow down the problem even farther. The whole time the customer was intently listening to every word of the conversation about MAF’s, TPS’s, MAP’s, ACT’s, PCM’s, and CTS’s. Nothing out of the ordinary for two CMT’s to discuss, but it did get a bit on the “techy” side.

When the tech went back out to the service bay to tackle the problem the customer asked me, “Were you guys talking about a car? I swear I didn’t understand a word you were saying. Sounded like some foreign language to me.”

I guess it would sound like a foreign language to someone who didn’t understand the abbreviations and terms we were using to describe the various sensors and components. These days the whole world is full of abbreviations, acronyms, and slang words that weren’t part of our culture in years past. Growing up, about the only people who talked in abbreviations a lot were the police, the military, and doctors. Now, it’s everywhere. Abbreviations have crept into every facet of modern life. We seem to thrive on chopping up words and phrases into short staccato blips of the English language. For me, it’s especially noticeable in the various automotive components and procedures I deal with every day.


Prior to the time when computers entered into the automotive world there were just a handful of shortened phrases or abbreviations I can recall that were common place in the automotive world, such as SS for “Super Sport”, or the name of a car was an acronym for something else. Like the 442 (Four on the floor, Four barrel, Dual exhaust). For the most part, a starter was called a starter, and an alternator was called an alternator. (Generator for you really old guys.) There were no abbreviations needed. But, now with all these various sensors and components in today’s cars, abbreviated phrases and acronyms have become a part of the modern mechanic’s vocabulary.

Some of these shortened phrases have become such a common part of our normal conversation that their non-abbreviated form sounds more out of place than their abbreviated version. Take LED’s for example, who calls them “Light Emitting Diodes” these days? In fact, since LED is capitalized you probably read it as L-E-D and I doubt very seriously anyone said “led” by mistake. Pretty amazing, isn’t? There are a few abbreviations that haven’t quite taken on a life of their own like the LED’s have and still have a few variations to them. TPMS – TPS, or the SEL – CEL, or the ALDL - DLC are a few that come to mind. Even though the terms are understood, there is no “universally” accepted abbreviation for them. Sometimes it really comes down to which manufacturer you’re dealing with as far as which abbreviation is appropriate.


These days it’s not hard to have a complete conversation with nothing more than a few abbreviations. It truly has become a language all to its own. Before texting and smart phones, writing a letter with these cryptic abbreviations just wasn’t the norm. “LOL” for example, wasn’t a word back then, and now, it’s so common place that it’s not only understood by everyone it’s also in the dictionary. Good old “Ma-Bell” still works, but having that smart phone in your pocket sure changes the concept of personal communication. There’s no doubt, the computer has changed our world forever.


Something I’ve noticed is that a lot of my younger generation customers use the internet and texting as a great way to set up appointments or discuss their car problems with me. I do get an occasional one from the older crowd too, but those emails and texts I don’t have to sort through a lot of those abbreviated text gibberish to figure out what they wanted to tell me.


Some of these “text savvy texter’s” they leave me scratching my head as to what they mean. Automotive abbreviations, now that I understand, but some of these text messages, well… let’s just say I’m a bit lost for words. Here’s one that came in the other day.


“2morrow I’m sending my car 2 U. My car is 7K, AFAIK it’s the pwr strng pump, but IDK 4sure. My BF told my GF that you would know how to fix it. I will drop the keys off 2night. JIC it costs a bunch PCM or TMB with an estimate and LMK what you find. 10X L8R.”


And I thought car abbreviations were getting out of hand. It took me a while to figure this one out, but I eventually did. So, I answered with what I thought was an “age appropriate” response.



Cars are complicated enough; now communicating with the customer is getting complicated, too. All this new abbreviated texting stuff… IDK a lot of it. But, I am slowly learning more each day. It’s my latest challenge to tackle. I’m just wondering what the next generation’s communication media going to be like… Message videos? Gifs? Holograms? Your guess is as good as mine. TIAD, TTYL8R - TTFN


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Another great one Gonzo. I laughed out loud again ! I thought the U.S. Army had a lot of acronyms, but this business may have more. I've had customers ask me " We're you and that technician talking about a car ?" Hilarious. Thanks for an awesome article!

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I know the feeling Frank. We're starting to sound a lot like our grandparents did when they would say, "Darn kids....!" Now I know how they felt about all the new hip stuff going on.


Too funny, Oh... I meant LMAOROFL LOL

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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