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Q: What are Car Specs?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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Car specifications, or car specs, provide a snapshot of a vehicle's important details and are commonly displayed by a car dealer at the dealership. This information might be a printout attached to a car window or given to you as a handout when you inquire about a specific car. Understanding these specs and how they can affect you as the potential owner of the vehicle can help you save time and ensure you get the right car for your lifestyle.

Car specs typically fall into the loose categories of construction, operation, and performance. Construction specs can include basic dimensional factors like height and weight, as well as deeper details like the car's wheelbase and cargo capacity. Operation specs include features such as air conditioning, cruise control and seating materials. Performance specs indicate how the vehicle can be expected to drive and, yes, perform. These can include fuel economy and the vehicle's turning radius.

Construction specs are often presented as a simple block of data. Lighter vehicles are often easier on fuel, but may not always have the power or traction of more heavy-duty versions. A vehicle's height might be of concern if you regularly drive under bridges or through short drive-through locations. This is a major factor for drivers of large trucks or vans. Other commonly reported information includes vehicle length and ground clearance. These are important for those driving off-road.

Operation specs often include optional features. Air conditioning, audio systems, leather seating, and similar amenities are often self-explanatory. The block of safety features is important for family buyers. It will note child safety locks, power door locks, airbags, the braking system, and power windows, among other features. Many car spec sheets will list all available features and place checkmarks next to the features actually included in that particular vehicle. Make sure you verify that the checkmarks line up with the features you want.

Performance specs are important to those who want to get the most power out of their vehicles or know exactly what fuel economy to expect. Such specs include the estimated miles per gallon consumption for both highway and city travel. The type of engine will also appear here, along with the transmission. Vehicles with automatic transmissions are more common in America these days. The specs in this block also are likely to indicate key measurements of engine performance, such as horsepower and torque, and may even proclaim the compression ratio, which is very important to mechanics working on the engine.

Paying close attention to car specs will save you time and money when it's time to purchase the new car. Knowing the differences in engine type, transmission type, and safety features in vehicles can ensure that you get the right car for your personal, business, or family use.

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