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A-Z of tech

Immobilisers are fitted to most cars as standard. Keys are coded to individual vehicles, and if you don’t use the correct key, components such as fuel pumps and ignition systems are disabled, which physically immobilises the car.

ISOFIX is a child seat mounting point which has been standardised so that it can be used across all makes of vehicle and child seat. It physically anchors the chair to the car itself, while the seatbelt secures the child in place.

J-Gate is a term used to describe the gear selector pattern on automatic cars. Jaguar used this style of gear selector for many years before changing to a gear selector dial.

KERS or kinetic energy recovery systems recuperate energy while braking, and store it to then be used by electric motors for extra power and boost while accelerating. This is used in Formula One.

Keyless Entry allows you to unlock and enter a vehicle without having to use a key or blipper. The car recognises the transmitter on the occupant and unlocks the car when the door handle is operated.

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Keyless Go works in much the same way as keyless entry, but the driver is able to fire up the car with a start button without having to insert a key or fob into the dash.

Lane-departure Warning uses cameras to spot if the car is straying out of its lane on, say, a motorway. A physical or audible warning then alerts the driver. Some systems can even automatically steer the car back on track.

LED stands for light-emitting diode. These are similar to small bulbs but use very little power without the need for an element. LEDs are used mostly in daytime running lamps, plus brake and indicator lights.

Limited-Slip Differential – as the name suggests, these differ from the normal open-differential gear system as they effectively lock the driven wheels together across the axle to provide better traction when the car is exiting corners.

Low-Rolling-Resistance tyres have less friction when in motion and so require less energy to physically turn the tyre, therefore reducing fuel consumption with little loss in either control or grip.

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Massage Seats increase comfort behind the wheel. These incorporate small motors or air bladders which move rhythmically to provide the driver with a relaxing back rub.

MMI is Audi’s Multi Media Interface. It operates just like arch-rival BMW’s iDrive system by allowing driver or front passenger to control all the car’s key infotainment functions through a swivel wheel-based menu system.

MultiAir is the latest engine technology featuring on the new generation of Fiats. It is designed to enhance performance and fuel economy. Electrohydraulic valves open at different rates depending on engine load and throttle position, in order to provide maximum burn efficiency. 

Night Vision uses an infra-red camera mounted to the front of the car to give a detailed view of the road ahead on cabin screens – even in the dark.

Nitrogen is used in the tyres of race cars and some track-focused road models – like the Nissan GT-R – as it’s more stable over a range of temperatures than normal air, so pressure is maintained over long periods of track time.

Noise-Cancelling systems produce sound waves from the in-car speakers, which cancel out annoying noises and make cars quieter without the need for lots of heavy soundproofing material.

On the next page: O to R

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