General information – Car parts & mechanical terms in French

I am happy to admit defeat when it comes to any car-related errands.  My partner usually takes care of our car insurance and Contrôle Technique tests (A contrôle technique is a test for your car’s roadworthiness, similar to a Ministry of Transport test or a Warrant of Fitness in other countries).

It’s not that I can’t be bothered – I just have no grasp of what mechanics are talking about, whether it’s in English or French.

I don’t know what a dynamo is, have no idea how you would repair a cylinder head gasket, and a catalyctic convertor sounds like something in the Tardis from Doctor Who.

Until recently.

My partner was working long hours and a little red warning symbol lit up on the dashboard in my car.  The type of warning symbol that you know means trouble, and you have to take it to a mechanic.

Panic set in!  My partner was unavailable to deal with this, so what did this symbol mean?  and secondly, how do I explain this to a mechanic – and in French?!!   So, in the interests of all other people who may find themselves in this situation, I have compiled a list in English with their French equivalents for some main car parts and terms relating to mechanics to help you.

Below is a basic car diagram with some terms cross-referenced.  At the end of this blog post I have attached them as a Word document so you can print and take with you if needed.

I’d love some feedback on this !

Helpful phrases:

My car will not start = Ma voiture ne démarre pas

I have a flat tire / tyre = J’ai un pneu crevé

My battery is flat = Je n’ai plus de batterie

I locked the keys in my car = J’ai enfermé mes clés dans ma voiture

Parts of a car / mechanical terms in English and French cardiagram-20120529T231113-lhcyb52

accelerator                      l’accélérateur

aerial                               l’antenne (f.)

air conditioning               la climatisation (clim for short)

air filters    10                    le filtre à air

automatic transmission    la transmission automatique

automatic transmisson fluid 11  liquide de tranmission automatique

axle                                  l’essieu

battery    9                        la batterie

body of a car                     carrosserie

bonnet                                la capote

boot                                    le coffre

brakes  3                           les freins

brake fluid                          le liquide de frein

bumper                               le pare-chocs

cabin air filter 22              filtre à air d’habitacle

camshaft                            l’arbre à cames

carburettor                        le carburateur

car radio                             l’autoradio (m.)

catalytic convertor           un pot catalytique

chassis   6                        châssis

choke                                  un starter

clutch                                  l’embrayage

coolant anti-freeze 12        liquide de refroidissement

crankcase                           le carter

crank shaft                         le vilebrequin

cruise control system      un régulateur de vitesse

CV joint                               joint homocinétique

cylinder                               le cylindre

cylinder head                     une culasse

cylinder head gasket        un joint de culasse

dashboard                          tableau de bord

dipstick                               la jauge du niveau d’huile

disc brake                           le frein à disque

distributor cable                 le câble distributeur

distributor head                  tête d’un distributeur

door                                    la portière

drive belt                            une courroie de transmission

drive shaft                          un arbre moteur

dynamo                            la dynamo

engine                              le moteur

engine block                      le bloc moteur

engine oil filter                  le filtre à huile

exhaust    5                     pipe (le tuyau d’échappement) / valve (un clapet de refoulement)

fan                                       le ventilateur

fan belt                               une courroie de ventilateur

first gear                             la première

fog lamp                             le phare anti-brouillard or le feu anti-brouillard

floor mat                            le tapis de sol

fuel filter/pump               le filter à carburant / la pompe à carburant

fuel gauge                          une jauge à essence

fuel tank                             le réservoir d’essence

fuse                                     un fusible

gearbox                              une boîte de vitesse

gear lever                           le levier de vitesses

glove compartment         boîte à gants

grill                                      une calandre

handbrake                          le frein à main

headlight                            le phare

heating                               chauffage

hood                                    la capote

horn                                     le klaxon

hubcap                                l’enjoliveur

ignition                               l’allumage

indicator                             le clignotant

inside mirror                      le rétroviseur intérieur

jump leads/cables            câbles de démarrage

license plate                      la plaque d’immatriculation

manual transmission        la transmission

number plate                     la plaque d’immatriculation

oil filter/pump  13                le filtre à huile / la pompe à huile

oxygen sensor 14                capteur d’oxygène

pedal                                   la pédale

petrol cap                           bouchon d’essence

petrol tank                         le réservoir d’essence

piston                                  le piston

power steering                  la direction assistée

power steering fluid  19    le liquide de servodirection

radiator                              le radiateur

rear light                             le feu arrière

rear-view mirror               le rétroviseur

reversing light                   le phare de recul

rollbar                                 un arceau de sécurité

seat                                     le siège

seat belt                             la ceinture de sécurité

shock absorbers               les amortisseurs (m.)

silencer                               le silencieux

spare part                           une pièce détachée / de rechange

spare wheel                       le roue de secours

spark plugs   18              les bougies (f.)

speedometer                     un compteur de vitesse

starter motor                    le démarreur

steering column              la colonne de direction

steering lock                      un antivol

steering wheel                  le volant

sunroof                               le toit ouvrant or le toit vitre

suspension 7                     suspension d’une voiture

taillights                      les stops or les feu arrières

the jack                               le cric

tire / tyre 8                      le pneu is the translation for just the tire/tyre (la roue = the whole wheel)

tire / tyre pressure     la pression des pneus

tire / tyre tread 8           une bande de roulement

universal joint                    un cardan

valve                                    la soupape

vest (high-visibility)          gilet rétro-réfléchissant

visor                                    visière

warning light                     la lampe témoin

warning triangle               triangle de pré-signalisation

water pipe                          une durite d’eau

water pump                       la pompe à eau

wheel                                  la roue (le pneu = the actual tyre)

wheel alignment               le parallélisme des roues

wheel balancingéquilibrage de roue

windscreen                        la pare-brise

windscreen washer  16     lave-glace

windscreen wiper 20         l’essuie-glace (m.)

window                               le vitre

wing mirror                        le rétroviseur de côté

wiring                                le câblage

Word document for free download – Parts of a car (English/French) Mechanicalterms

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