Salvage Title

An automobile title which indicates that a vehicle has sustained significant damage at or beyond 70% of its market value prior to an accident. The specific percentage may vary based on the insurance provider or any other regulations or laws that distinguish a salvage threshold. Once a vehicle has been deemed salvaged on the title, it means that the insurance company has paid out a total loss claim to the holder or financial institution. It is then sold to an auction center to salvage as much money from the totaled vehicle as possible. Salvage titles are important distinctions to prospective buyers as they indicate when a vehicle has sustained significant damage at one point in its lifespan. Even when these vehicles are restored or repaired to operational capacity, the title still must denote it was salvaged.

Satellite Communication

A communication system installed within an automotive computer system which relays critical automotive information both to and from the vehicle. Communication satellites collect and relay information for these communication systems, and they are used across a wide range of different purposes such as emergency alerts or collision detection.

Scheduled Maintenance Warranty

A warranty which includes coverage for service and maintenance procedures outlined by the manufacturer at routine intervals. These warranties promote the regular maintenance of vehicles by covering the services. When predetermined maintenance schedules are followed, the life of a vehicle can be extended by a much greater time period.

Seat Adjustment Type

Controlling mechanisms used to adjust the seats within a vehicle. Examples include manual seat adjustments, power seat adjustments, and memory adjustments which are electronically set, stored in an internal memory, and recalled whenever needed.


Also commonly referred to as seat belts, harnesses which secure drivers and passengers to the vehicle and protect them during an accident or collision.

Seat Extension

The attached support on a vehicle seat which is used to lengthen the bottom section of a seat. It consists of a metal frame upholstered with foam and other trim based on the exact vehicle make and model.

Seat Features

A series of controls for various functions that are directly integrated somewhere on vehicle seats. These controls are used for seat adjustment and positioning to maximize comfort and visibility for both drivers and passengers.

Setback Storage

Additional storage space within a vehicle as a storage pocket integrated into a seat or attached to the back side of the seat. These units provide additional storage space that can be easily accessed by occupants.

Seatbelt Force Limiters

An element of the Seatbelt Pre-Tensioner which prevents the belt retraction from becoming too tight and causing additional injury to an occupant when an accident or collision occurs. This mechanism detects the retraction force and stops the process after a certain threshold is met. Refer to “Seatbelt Pre-Tensioner” for more information.

Seatbelt Pre-Tensioners

Vehicle seatbelts equipped with a mechanism which retracts the belt to tighten it back toward the seat when an airbag is deployed during an accident. Tightening of the belt reorients the occupant into the correct position in a seat. This ensures that airbag provides the greatest level of protection to minimize injuries sustained in a collision.

Seating Capacity

The total number of people who can safely be seated and restrained with seatbelts in a vehicle. This includes the driver as well as any additional row seating that can be removed or folded down while not in use.

Secondary Air Supply System

An emissions reduction system which restricts the exhaust from immediately exiting a vehicle to promote further combustion of hydrocarbons which were not initially burned. Fresh air is filtered and delivered through a vacuum system which occurs due to the exhaust pulsations within an engine. Unused hydrocarbons from initial combustion are then reintroduced into the system for further conversion. This secondary air supply system accomplishes the same goal as a more complex air injection system which requires air pumps, diverter valves, and other parts to successfully operate. It can provide a much more efficient usage of fuel and reduce pollutants which are exhausted from the vehicle.

Security Deposit

An initial payment required at the inception of a vehicle’s lease as collateral for the leasing company. This collateral ensures that the lessee will adhere to the agreed terms of the lease, and it may be surrendered if the lease is violated. The amount of the security deposit will vary based on the leasing terms with higher amounts typically associated with higher valued automobiles or a lower credit score for lessees.

Selective Catalyst Reduction

Also known as “CSR,” a diesel-equipped system which reduces emissions by injecting a liquid-reductant agent from the catalyst into the engine’s exhaust.

Self Leveling Headlights

A system which uses sensors at suspension height to assess the current orientation of a vehicle’s body and adjust headlights either upward or downward. Adjusting headlight positioning prevents glare from the lights toward oncoming drivers. Based on the auto body height, lights are continually adjusted to keep them in the optimal position for visibility and glare reduction. This improves safety both for the vehicle driver and other drivers on the road.

Self Leveling Suspension (SLS) Filter

Also known as the shorthand “SLS Filter,” this component removes pollutants and contaminants from hydraulic fluid used in a vehicle’s self leveling suspension system. Maintaining purity in the hydraulic fluid prevents the introduction of contaminants and particulates into the system for ideal operating performance.

Separate Rear Audio

A feature equipped within a vehicle’s audio system which provides two different sound sources for front and rear seat occupants. Many systems provide additional controls for rear passengers to adjust settings for their particular audio source. Additionally, rear audio systems may also include headphone ports for listening without interfering with the front audio.

Sequential Manual Gearbox

Often referred to as a vehicle’s “SMG,” “Direct Shift Gearbox,” “DSG,” or “Automated Manual Transmission.” Refer to “Automated Manual Transmission” for more information.

Series Hybrid

An electric powered vehicle which also includes a gasoline internal combustion engine only used for recharging the battery. This gasoline component provides an additional source of power for a battery when necessary. However, it does not power the wheels or any other part of the engine directly. These vehicles primarily rely on battery power for operation, but they may engage the gasoline component if needed. The Chevrolet Volt is the most popular model which adopts this style.

Serpentine Belt

Also known as a “Multi-Vee,” “Multi-Rib,” or “Poly-v Belt,” this continuous belt is responsible for driving multiple devices within an engine. These include the power steering pump, water pump, alternator, air pump, and air conditioning compressor.

Service Reminder Light

A light which appears whenever general vehicle service or maintenance is required – or for specific engine service due to a malfunction. The light is typically present on the dash readout for easy driver visibility.

Shields and Under Hood Insulation

Padding and heat-proof panels which are installed to protect engine components under the hood from being exposed to excessive heat and burning or getting damaged.

Shift Control Mechanism

The specific installation within a vehicle for shifting gears within the transmission. Different types of mechanisms are present in various makes and models and may include levers, paddles, buttons, or other components.

Shift Linkage

All the mechanical connections between a vehicle’s transmission and its operating controls. These components connect a Shift Control Mechanism to the system which physically shifts gears in the engine.

Shift Protocol

The method equipped in a car for shifting gears. Common protocols include a paddle, levers, or buttons for each gear.

Shiftable Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission system which utilizes a torque converter to shift gears and can alternate between automatic or driver-controlled operations. Drivers can choose whether the vehicle operates as an automatic transmission or as a manual transmission through the use of a dual-gate or remote shifter. This added level of control can provide safer and more efficient operation of a vehicle whenever the conditions require more precise shifting.

Shoulder Room

A measurement of the total distance from the driver’s upper door panel all the way to the front passenger’s upper door panel. It is one of many interior cabin specifications used to determine total available space.

Side Airbags

Smaller airbags which are deployed on the outer edge of a seat during a collision. These airbags are used to help protect or reduce damage to an occupant’s ribs when an accident occurs.

Side Curtain Rollover Sensor

A vehicle sensor which is used to determine whether or not side curtain airbags should be deployed. A variety of computer controlled systems are engaged in the process of a collision. Based on sensor data and determinations, these airbags may be deployed as an additional safety mechanism for occupants.

Side Impact Beam

Beams built into the structural support of a vehicle chassis used to increase safety and protect occupants during side collisions or other impacts.

Side Pockets

Side storage areas within a vehicle usually equipped on either side of a door panel with an elastic pocket. These provide even more storage space that can be quickly and conveniently accessed by passengers.

Single Limit Insurance

A liability limit within insurance coverage denoted in one single amount for all components of the policy. It refers to the highest dollar amount an insurance company will pay due to property damage and physical injuries that result from a single accident. This differs from “Split Limit Insurance” which provides particular coverage amounts for specific elements.

Skid Plate

A shielding installation which is attached at the very bottom of a vehicle’s front bumper to protect the undercarriage. In cases of insufficient clearance between the ground and the vehicle undercarriage, the skid plate prevents additional damage from occurring. It serves as an added layer of protection against unanticipated driving conditions.

Sliding Rear Window

Small windows which are built into a truck’s rear windshield and can slide open or closed using a series of attached rails. These windows can provide additional ventilation during vehicle operation without having to open the entire rear window (which usually swings outward while opening).


A distinction awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency which designates vehicles that have achieved a much lower level of combined gas emissions and air pollution exhaust. Each of these scores ranges from 1-10 with 1 being the worst and 10 the best in terms of cleaner emissions. A SmartWay distinction combines the scores from both emissions and air pollution with at least a score of 6 in both categories and a total score of 13 or higher.


An acronym for “Sequential Manual Gearbox” and also known as the “DSG” or “Direct Shift Gearbox.” Refer to “Automated Manual Transmission” for more information.

Smog Forming Pollution

Pollutants from combustion engines and other equipment or industrial exhaust which produce the photochemical smog when exposed to sunlight and undergo a chemical reaction. These pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Smoked Glass

Vehicle windows which include added pigment during their manufacturing process to increase opacity in the glass. These tinted windows make it much more difficult to see inside for added interior privacy to the occupants. Smoked glass is often equipped on vehicles which may have compartments meant for private transportation such as a limousine or shuttle. State laws vary based on allowable tinted glass and opacity levels, so drivers must verify smoked glass legality before installing them on their windows.

Snowplow Prep

All the necessary hardware required to attach an optional snowplow onto the front bumper or frame of a truck or other vehicle capable of housing it. These installations are typically available for pickup trucks and other heavy duty vehicles.

Soft Close Doors

Vehicle doors which can pull themselves shut to fully secure a latch if not shut hard enough by the occupants. This helps to prevent unsafe door conditions during operation.

Solar Power

An alternative energy source harnessed directly from the sun through solar panels or photovoltaic cells. They are capable of converting the energy from light into either heat or electricity. Continued technological innovations have lowered the investment price for these cells or panels.

Solar Sunroof

A vehicle sunroof equipped with a photovoltaic panel to provide additional power for interior fans and other elements of the ventilation system while a car is not operating. The panel is infused into the sunroof glass, and this added energy is primarily used to keep a vehicle’s interior cooler while it is parked in the sun without draining its primary battery. Because it is powered by the sun, it is a self-sustained system for cooling while a vehicle is unoccupied.

Spare Tire

An extra tire and wheel assembly stored as a backup in cases of tire failure or related emergency. The spare tire is often stored either in the trunk or mounted to the back of a vehicle alongside the necessary hardware to lift a car, detach the damaged wheel, and replace it with the extra wheel.

Spark Plug Wires

Electric cables which are used to carry the high voltage charge from a vehicle’s ignition coils or distributor cap to the spark plugs in the engine. These wires are essential for proper operation of a vehicle’s engine. Malfunction or degradation of the cables could significantly diminish overall performance.

Speaker Configuration

Total number and physical location of all the speakers and related components within a vehicle’s cabin audio system. This configuration also includes the number of speaker channels such as the center and subwoofer channels which the system supports. Systems can be standard from the manufacturer or installed by an aftermarket specialist for enhanced audio capabilities.

Special Lease

Also commonly referenced as a “Subsidized Lease” or a “Subvented Lease,” this is a type of lease offered by the vehicle manufacturer with included incentives to reduce monthly payments below the levels offered by independent leasing agencies. In most cases, these incentives can apply specific cash rebates while using a higher residual value and lower interest rate to reduce the monthly payments. The manufacturer must eat the difference in costs with these offers. Special leases are frequently offered as a method to enhance the selling potential for less popular models. They can also be employed to meet production demands within a manufacturing process or to help make room for the newer production line of the next model year vehicles.

Speed Sensitive Volume Control

An audio feature equipped in a vehicle’s sound system which will lower the speaker volume as a vehicle decelerates and comes to a stop. It is available in select vehicles as a selling point within the sound system.

Speed Sensitive Wipers

A built-in feature in some vehicles which will scale the speed of the windshield wipers with the current speed of the automobile. This can help maintain high visibility as a vehicle accelerates and decelerates.


Incentives within a dealership to motivate the sales staff into selling more vehicles. Typical spiffs include a high ticket item such as a mobile phone, cash prizes, or other perks as a reward for excellent sales performance.

Split Limit Insurance

An insurance policy which provides explicit dollar limits for all the various elements of the coverage plan. In terms of bodily injury liability insurance, it can be split even further into a maximum payout per accident and maximum payment per person. For instance, an auto insurance liability policy may be denoted as 50/100/25. This translates into a maximum payout of $50,000 covered for each person, $100,000 covered for bodily injury incurred per accident, and a $25,000 maximum payout for property damage per accident. This common type of insurance arrangement is helpful for consumers to designate coverage amounts for each area within the policy. It provides them with more control than through a “Single Limit Insurance” plan. Specific plans allow policyholders to find rates and coverage that match their exact specifications.


An aftermarket attachment to a vehicle or an element of its factory-produced body consisting of a raised accessory equipped on various locations – including the rear, front, roof, and more. It derives its term from sports racing as the shape of a spoiler literally “spoils” or disrupts the air around it for enhanced aerodynamics, improved stability, and enhanced precision in controls. It is commonly present on professional racing vehicles to achieve various aerodynamic and other enhancements to speed. However, consumer spoiler installations are often only used for their aesthetic appearance. Their association with sports cars creates a sportier look to an automobile which is often a consumer-preferred style.

Stability Control

Commonly referred to as “Electronic Stability Control” or “ESC,” a safety feature which is used to improve handling through the automatic detection of skidding and associated brake application. Computer-based sensors detect when a vehicle hits a slippery area and begins to skid – adjusting brake pressure. The braking helps to maintain a vehicle’s intended direction without any swerving or other hazard associated with skidding. By detecting and adjusting automatically, the system can significantly improve overall driving safety during inclement weather or slippery conditions. Many Stability Control Systems can reduce the engine’s power through the skid until the driver regains control of the vehicle.

Stabilizer Bar

Also known as the “Anti Roll” or “Anti Sway Bar,” a connective device used to link the left and right sides of a vehicle’s suspension to help reduce the chances of a body roll during turns. The bar spans across the length of the vehicle to stabilize weight distribution.

Start Stop System

Usually equipped on hybrid vehicles, this system will automatically control the stopping and restarting of the internal combustion engine during operation, switching to and from the electrical system. Alternating between off and on will reduce the total idle time of the combustion engine to improve fuel efficiency. This will also reduce potential emissions for a lower level of harmful pollutants entering the atmosphere.

Starter Safety Switch

Safety measures equipped within a starter to prevent it from engaging unless certain devices are properly set. For example, some vehicles will not activate the starter until the shifter is placed in park or the brake pedal is fully depressed.

Steering Column Lock

A component within a steering system which locks the wheel and prevents any rotation until the ignition is moved out of the locked position. Locking the wheel prevents unintended movement which can cause undue strain on the steering system while the vehicle is not operating.

Steering Damper

A shock absorber equipped on the steering linkage system to prevent or lessen sudden jerky motions of the wheel. This feature is often included on trucks or larger vehicles with off-road capabilities. The uneven terrain could cause sudden wheel turns which would jerk the wheel abruptly. The Damper reduces these kickbacks for a more comfortable ride.

Steering Gearbox

The element of a steering system which translates the driver’s steering wheel motion into front wheel movement. Steering wheel motion is sent through a variety of components and mechanisms to create a natural translation of motion to wheel movement. Depending on the sensitivity, more or less rotation may be necessary to achieve the desired movement.

Steering Intermediate Shaft

A component of the steering system which connects the steering wheel to the steering gearbox or rack. Universal joints are present at both ends of the shaft to accommodate the angle between the steering gear and steering shaft.

Steering Knuckle

An element of a steering system used to connect a steering shaft to the steering mechanism. It is one of the many components used to effectively power and control vehicle steering.

Steering Linkage

The orientation of rods and joints used to connect wheel spindles to the steering gearbox. Proper lubrication is required on these components to facilitate effective control and operation within the linkage system.

Steering Rack

The component of a steering system used to convert the steering wheel’s rotation into the horizontal motion used within the linkage mechanism. This conversion continually changes as the driver adjusts the steering wheel position. Its adjustment is based on the rotational motion of a typical steering wheel installation.

Steering Wheel Adjustment

The controlling mechanism for positioning a vehicle’s steering column to an orientation most suitable to the driver. Adjustment can keep vehicle operation more comfortable for drivers and can be easily moved when other people are driving.

Steering Wheel Controls

Controls for various vehicle functions and settings which are mounted on the steering wheel. Common options include climate control, Bluetooth activation for mobile communication, cruise control, and climate control. These provided an added level of convenience for drivers with easier access to essential vehicle systems.

Sticker Price

Refer to “MSRP” for more information.

Storage Media

The exact types of physical media which are compatible with a vehicle’s audio system. They may be capable of both playback and recording to media like CDs, DVDs, USB drives, memory cards, and even a hard drive. Compatibility with particular storage media may vary based on the audio system equipped in a vehicle.


Measurement of the total distance, in inches, from the centerline of the engine crankshaft to the centerline of the connecting rod journal to determine the full travel distance of a piston along its cylinder. Engines are often distinguished using their strokes, e.g. a four stroke engine.

Subprime Loans

Loans which are provided to borrowers who have lower credit ratings and less reliable creditworthiness. These loans often come with a higher interest rate (sometimes substantially higher) to accommodate for the increased risk due to a low credit rating. They may also require another form of collateral prior to approval.

Subsidized or Subvented Lease

Refer to “Special Lease” for more information.


An acronym for “Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle,” refers to automobiles which meet a stringent emissions standard even higher than the Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) designation with 90% fewer emissions compared with an equivalent engine powered by gasoline.


An opening on a vehicle roof used to provide light through the top of the automobile. Covered in either a glass or metal plug, sunroofs can be either fixed or adjustable to open or close based on a vehicle make and model.


A device which is used to either limit or prevent sunshine and light from coming through a vehicle window. These devices are usually retractable or fully removable from the window to be used at an occupant’s discretion.

Sun Sensor

A sensor equipped on the top of a dash to determine the total “Sun Load” on a vehicle. Usually dome shaped, the sensor readouts provide information about current heat transfer from the sunshine into a vehicle. This data can improve the accuracy of an automatic heating or air conditioning system throughout the cabin.


A power increasing device within an engine and connected to the crankshaft. It is powered by a gear, shaft, chain, or belt, and pushes air directly into the internal combustion engine. This forced air push enhances the engine’s power potential and provides a boosted performance. The increased pressure is what allows the engine power to increase.

Supercharger Drive Belt

A belt within the centrifugal supercharger which is used to move a pulley to turn the impeller. Commonly, these belts are “toothed” with each bit connecting to the pulley for ongoing motion.

Supercharger Fluid

The fluid which is present inside a supercharger to lubricate all the internal components. Fluid is essential for efficient operation with parts such as the bearings and the impeller. Improper lubrication may cause a myriad of performance-related issues within the supercharger.

Suspension Fluid

A fluid which is used within hydraulic suspension systems. The fluid is necessary for efficient performance of the suspension system.

Suspension Geometry

The orientation of a vehicle’s mounting points for each element of its suspension components. This layout showcases how the suspension operates in relation to other systems within an automobile.