10 Everyday(-ish) English Expressions about Cars & Driving | part 3

We are hitting the road on another adventure! Well, it’s just an article, but you get the point. Learning a language is a long and arduous process, but it’s easier when made fun. One cool thing about English is all the varied expressions it uses to describe daily happenings. There seem to be an interesting (or suspicious) amount of terms derived from cars and driving, as you could see in parts 1 and 2. In today’s article, I intended to describe even more of these kinds of expressions. However, I realized a lot of these are a bit more specific than your average terms.

Read more:

  • Parts 1 and 2 of Expressions about Cars and Driving

Still, these are useful, so why not give them a try? These are 10 more words and expressions about driving and cars … oh, and some can be used in other situations too. Enjoy! 

Fender Bender

Making a “whoopsy”

This term is very helpful in the specific case that one gets into a minor car accident. It’s not quite a “wreck” but there is a little bit of damage. It’s less common, but sometimes this expression can be used to refer to a minor accident off of the road, too.

Hits & accidents

  • Terry got into a fender bender last night on the highway. I sure hope he wasn’t drinking. 
  • Sometimes we get into little bumps and fender benders that we have to overcome. 

Crash Course / Collision Course

On the road to chaos

In some cases, these two expressions can have a similar meaning. Being on a collision course (or a crash course) towards something is like being on the road to disaster. This danger can be on an actual road or on a metaphorical “course” in life. Something bad is coming, and there will be conflict if nothing is done to stop it. 

In other contexts, a crash course can specifically be a highly intensive academic course or class. Just like this channel I love on YouTube called Crash Course! I’m sure you all will love it if you don’t already.

A crashing lesson

  • When the truck’s emergency brake failed, it went on a collision course down the hill until it eventually hit a wall.
  • If we don’t put John and Michael into separate classrooms, they are going to be on a collision course until one of them throws the first punch.
  • I’m taking a crash course next week on thermodynamics. Wish me luck! 

Hit the Road

Go away! Or not

“Hit the road, Jack!” Pretty much everyone knows this song, and by consequence, the meaning of those famous words. Saying this can be the same as telling someone to leave or go away. Usually, though, the meaning has to do with traveling or beginning a trip.

Get going 

  • You need to hit the road, Jack. I don’t want you around here anymore. 
  • Come on, kids! Let’s hit the road. Disneyland isn’t coming to us. 

Get the Show on the Road

It’s showtime!

Following the theme of roads, here’s another useful expression to bring up. When someone says, get the show on the road, it means to begin some process or to proceed with it. The “show” is normally a reference to something important like a major event, a meeting, a procedure, and so on. Sometimes, it’s used in a similar sense to “hit the road,” or in other words, let’s start this trip! 

Move along, now

  • We need to get the show on the road, so don’t worry about the microphone. You can start without it.
  • Come on, kids! Let’s get this show on the road. Disneyland won’t wait for us.

Joyride / Joy Ride

Bad joy

Joyriding is such a “joy!” Well, for some. Going on a joyride usually involves stealing a car or using a car that doesn’t belong to the driver. The new driver may do other illegal activities with the car or just use it to ride around with friends without any particular motive. This obviously isn’t a joy for whoever got their car stolen. 

Riding dirty

  • Carla loves to joyride in other people’s cars. One day she’ll get caught.

Road Hog

The hateful hog

A road hog is someone who drives in multiple lanes and likes to take up lots of space on the road. This recklessness usually puts other drivers in danger, but it is always super annoying. Road hogs are normally careless drivers or intentionally trying to get in others’ ways. The verb version of this is to“hog the road.” 

Danger, danger, space taker

  • Don’t be a road hog, let the other drivers pass.
  • I really wish that guy would quit hogging the road. It’s so dangerous.

Road Rage

Raging in the machine

Do you have road rage? Oh, it’s such an exhilarating disease! Just kidding. Road rage is exactly what it sounds like. This is when someone gets intensely angry, filled with rage while driving on the road. They usually perform such behaviors as honking excessively, speeding, and doing dangerous maneuvers to get around people. Road ragers may also yell or make obscene gestures at other drivers, and more. Doesn’t that just sound pleasant?!

They call me “angry driver”

  • Why do they keep honking? Just let the poor lady cross the street. Everybody’s got road rage these days.

Hit and Run

Left to hurt

This is probably the most controversial expression on this here list, if there is such a thing. A hit and run is what happens when a car hits another car or person, and then “runs” or drives away. The person at fault often drives away out of fear, but the accident oftentimes causes serious injury, property damage, or even death in the saddest cases. 

This nature of “cause damage and flee the scene” is sometimes used in the context of relationships. A hit and run in this sense can mean that someone had relations (usually sexual) with another and left without saying anything. A similar expression in these cases is “hit and quit.” 

Whether it’s a car or a relationship, the impact on the “victim” has a familiar feeling of being abandoned and vulnerable. 

Fleeing the scene

  • Did you hear the crash last night? I know, it was a terrible hit and run.
  • Chuck is an infamous ladies’ man. You better prepare for a hit and run. then.

Hotwire

Breaking in hot

H-o-t-w-i-r-e, Hotwire.com! No, not that kind of hotwire. Normally, this word is used to describe a crime where someone uses the electric circuits of a car to start it without a key. This is a useful skill for when one loses their keys, but it is normally performed to steal a car. Wow, this part 3 is a little dark, eh? 

One can also hotwire a system or program. In this sense, it’s not so much about stealing as it is about figuring out how to break into something for your own advantage. In an informal sense, it can have a similar meaning to “hack” or “breaking a code.”

Cracking the code

  • Vanessa is a professional car thief. She has hotwired everything from Mitsubishis to Bentleys.
  • My company’s new interface is very complex, but I’m sure I can hotwire it and figure it out within the week. 

Pumped (up) / Gassed (up)

Fill ‘er up!

Similar to pumping gas into an engine, being pumped up is feeling full of excitement and energy. It’s how I imagine a car must feel after going to the gas station. This expression works as pumped up or simply pumped. A similar term is gassed up, which is feeling high energy and excitement too. This is different from simply feeling gassed though, which is the exact opposite, for some reason. 

A gassy tank

  • The kids are so pumped about going to Disneyland. I’m sure it will be tons of fun. 
  • Many athletes like listening to music to get pumped up before a game. 
  • Let’s get gassed up, you guys! The game is about to start. 
  • We’ve been traveling all day long, I’m totally gassed. Can we please take a break?

That’s it, you guys! Thank you for reading and I hope you learned some new phrases. How would you use these in your own sentences? What is your favorite expression about cars and driving? Tell us about it. And, as always, take care of each other. Peace!

For contact or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com or Give me a Shout!

Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving (part 2) – English List

dark Porsche car driving at sunset, related to the topic of words about cars and driving
Peter Miranda

Welcome to this version of English List. Cars have had such a huge impact on that language–the English one–and we’re here to prove it! This is part 2 of Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving, including some terms that can be used for both vehicles and other life situations.

For English students, these can be a cool way for you to liven up your word choice and vocabulary. Otherwise, you may just like driving cars or be an awesome English-speaking person that loves to learn. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to give your own examples, ask questions, give feedback, do whatever!

Alrighty, let’s get rolling.

Read Part 1: Some Everyday Expressions about Cars & Driving

Full Tank

Powered up

It’s easy to imagine the benefits of a full tank of gas. Similarly, when talking about people, we can say that person has a full tank. This is like saying that they are full of energy, ready to go, and pumped full of enthusiasm. There’s also the expression “on full,” which is the opposite of “on E” (on empty). Careful, though! “On F” isn’t quite a popular expression (yet).

No stopping … no stopping

  • Let’s make sure the truck’s got a full tank so we don’t have to stop the whole trip.
  • He has been running for hours and is still on a full tank! Can you believe it?

Roll up (the window)

Windows shut

This one may sound obvious, but it might not be so for English learners. When talking about making the window go up in a car, we can say roll the window up or roll up the window (it works the same for “down” too). Roll up by itself also has a multitude of meanings. It can be as simple as “to roll something” or to “arrive or go somewhere.”

Read also: Roll out, rolling, & other expressions

Getting there

  • Can you please roll the window up? It’s freezing in here!
  • I have to roll up my clothes so that they can fit in my suitcase.
  • Do you feel like rolling up to my cousin’s house? You know, she’s the one with the big TV.

Junk in the trunk

Big things in the back

This phrase is near and dear to many English speakers. Literally, it refers to having too much “junk”, or lots of random and useless objects, in the trunk of one’s car. Junk in the trunk can also be used to talk about people, especially women, saying that they have a big behind. This is actually the first thing that will come to mind to most English speakers when this silly phrase is said.

It is a very playful expression, used mostly with people we are really comfortable with, and it can be a really funny thing to say.

A beautiful mess

  • Do you know if Tyler has any jumper cables? There’s so much junk in his trunk, I can’t find it.
  • Mark told me I had a lot of junk in my trunk. Uh, I think he likes me.

Backseat driver

No driving from the back

Just picture it: you are riding along happily in your car, not a care in the world. Suddenly, you hear a voice from the back seat telling you to turn your blinkers on before you switch lanes. That’s decent advice, but still, nobody likes a backseat driver.

This expression is used to refer to someone who is giving instructions or directions but is “out of line” to. Maybe they are unqualified, or maybe they just weren’t a part of the conversation, to begin with.

Input from the sidelines

  • I thought to tell you to slow down, but I didn’t want to be a backseat driver.
  • The parents on the other team are such backseat drivers. They should just let the coaches do their jobs, right?

Down the road

What is to come

Driving is a lot more comfortable when you can see far down the road. This expression refers to what is ahead of you, further down the street. In a figurative sense, it means what is ahead in life, as opposed to the actual street or highway. Still, it’s a very useful idiom to know.

Looking forward

  • There’s a new Chipotle that opened up down the road. Want to try it?
  • You should always be prepared because you never know what might happen down the road.

U-turn

Turn it around

When driving, some people get the sudden urge to want to completely change directions on the road. That round 180-degree change is called making a U-turn. Likewise, people can make a “U-turn” in life as they completely change directions or go back to old habits.

Another very informal way of saying this is making a U-ey. (Some also say “pulling” a U-ey, “busting” a U-ey, “flipping” a U-ey, it’s all the same)

Bring it back

  • Sheryl was so happy in retirement. Now, all of a sudden, she did a big U-turn and went back to teaching again.
  • Do you think we can make a U-ey on this road? I think we can.

Run out of steam

Steam-less

No one wants this. When you’re driving and the car suddenly stops working. Apparently it’s got no more gas, no power, and everything says that is has run out of steam. The same idea can go for people when they don’t have the smallest bit of energy left in them.

Run until the running’s done

  • Boy, I sure hope this old truck doesn’t run out of steam before we make it home.
  • Alex started the day off full of energy, but now she looks like she ran out of steam.

Driving (me) nuts!

Nuts and (crazy) berries

Many people like to drive, while others get enraged by it. Driving someone nuts is the same as making them feel crazy. Other ways to say this are driving someone “mad,” driving someone “crazy”, driving someone “bananas,” and driving someone “coocoo”, among others.

This “driving” is usually used with negative emotions, so you would not say “driving me happy,” for example.

Ja-Making me crazy!

  • Is this Camila Cabello? Oh no, her music drives my brother insane.
  • I can’t handle being around kids while they’re crying. They drive me nuts!

Read more expressions about cars and driving: Hubpages


**Thank you for reading! Do you know any other car-related expressions or phrases? Can you use them in a sentence? Feel welcome, this is your place!

Contact for personal messages, English advice, or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com (Contact Page)

Check out similar posts on the Blog

Peace & love, y’all!

Some Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving – English List

Speed-racing, fast-flying, metal-clunking, oil-charged … these useful little machines called cars have a lot more to do with the English language than one might imagine. There are so many popular idioms and expressions that were inspired by these furiously fast vehicles. Whether for a compliment or a “total wreck,” this language has you car-lovers covered.

Below is a list of some expressions that were inspired by cars or driving. Most of these can be used in a literal driving context but also in a figurative way. It’s not a complete list at all, and there are many more expressions out there. Still, these are some that, in my life, seem to be the most commonly used. So let’s get the motor runnin’!

Oh, and I’ll be writing more lists about this topic in the future if you want to know even more phrases related to cars. So, stay tuned for that!

a wrecked car on the side of a green hill, representing an English expression about cars and driving
How did that get there? Tobias Tullius

Total Wreck / Totaled

Utter Destruction!

Let’s go ahead and start with one that I just used. A total wreck, whether for a car or in general life, is a complete disaster. Something has been destroyed and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any coming back. If you total a car, it’s totaled, and this has the same meaning as a “total wreck.” It’s “totally” destroyed … totally, man!

This word is used more specifically for cars, but can be used for other things if you want to get creative. A complete wreck is another option with the same idea.

Messed up car, messed up life

  • My life is just a total wreck right now!
  • Did you see? Max totaled his Audi the other day.

Rev Up

Getting things hot

Revving up an engine is to get it started, get it hot. You press your foot on the gas and get ready to run (as in driving, of course). It’s similar as a figurative expression, where it means to get really excited, get “fired up,” and start an activity with lots of power and energy. It’s also used as an adjective in the same way.

Passion from within

  • Cars are so noisy when they rev up their engines.
  • Be careful with Charlie. He gets all revved up at football games.

Curb

Take a pause …

Has someone ever been talking to you and you just wanted to stop them and change the topic? Well, you could have curbed them, which is doing exactly that. It usually means to stop something in order to change its course. Think of a car’s wheels hitting a curb.

An abrupt stop

  • Joey’s car got scratched when he curbed it last week.
  • Guys at bars always come at me with terrible conversations. I wish I could just curb them and move on.
a speedy lime green car racing on a track, representing common phrases about cars and driving in English
It’s okay to speed on the race track. Wes Tindel

Speeding

That’s doing too much

This means going really fast, simple as that. It works in cars as much as in life situations. It generally has the context of doing more than one should or more than needed.

Breaking the limit

  • Is it okay to speed in Germany?
  • All his speeding through life is going to catch up with him someday.

In The Rearview

A look back

As in, in the “rearview mirror.” When looking in their “rearview,” someone can see what’s behind them. Outside of driving, something in the rearview or looking in the rearview has to do with being in the past. Usually we say it when something gets put in the past or when someone is focusing on their past.

Checking what’s past

  • Make sure to check in the rearview while you drive.
  • I used to work as a waitress, but that’s all in the rearview now.

On E

No fuel for the fire

This is can also be expressed as “running on E.” On E literally means on empty, which happens when a car has no more gas in the tank. This is helpful to express when a car has an empty gas tank, or when a person has no more energy in their metaphorical “tank.”

Running on 0%

  • I got this new rental car, but the tank was already on E.
  • Messi looks so tired out on the field. He must be running on E by now.

Full Throttle

Going strong

When talking about cars, full throttle means the vehicle is moving at full capacity or is driving very quickly. Well, that’s about the same as someone doing something at “full throttle,” or with lots of enthusiasm, energy, and speed.

Full speed ahead

  • She loves to drive with her convertible at full throttle through the desert.
  • If you choose to do something in life, make sure to do it full throttle.

Like A Deer In Headlights

Caught you looking

Sometimes people say “headlamps,” but it means the same thing. Often said as a deer caught in headlights, this phrase intends exactly what comes to mind when you read it. Someone usually makes this look when they are caught doing something they shouldn’t be. They can be very shocked or even embarrassed.

Scared deer, scared baby

  • Have you ever actually seen a deer caught in headlights?
  • When Sean’s mom caught him stealing cookies from the cabinet, he was like a deer in headlights.

Hit The Brakes / Hit The Gas

Just press go … or stop

Hitting the gas or the brakes in a car means to push your foot on the gas or brake pedal to make the car go or stop. These expressions sometimes get used in other situations, like when you want a person to speed up or slow down. Pumping the brakes or the gas is another alternative, as well is pushing the brakes / gas. Although, the sensation is a little less “rushed.”

Advice for driving, dates, and driving dates

  • Never hit the brakes too suddenly. But when the light turns green, you need to hit the gas.
  • Jake tried to kiss me on our first date and I was like, pump the brakes! Now it’s been two weeks, and I wish he would push the gas!

Park It

Bring it in, sit it down

Parking, we know, is to pull your car over to the side of the road and leave it. Or, you can leave it in a parking lot. When someone says to park it, they usually are asking you to sit down. Sometimes it can mean to stop what someone is doing, too.

Pull over and leave it there

  • When you learn to drive a car, you must learn how to park it.
  • Hey, Jimmy! Come park it next to me.
  • He knows he was wrong. He should just park it and apologize.

Swerve

Evade, avert

A swerve (action) or to swerve mean to make a sudden and unexpected turn while driving. This is usually to avoid an obstacle in the road, like a tree branch or something. Figuratively, one can swerve to avoid a situation or person, mostly because they don’t like them. I think it can also be used to talk about making a sudden change in life or in movement.

This is part of where all those “skrrt” sounds came from in Trap and Hip Hop music these days, since car tires make a skrrt sound when they swerve.

Going around, literally

  • Why is this guy swerving? There’s nothing in the road.
  • Yeah, man. When Gina called me, I had to swerve.
  • Sometimes in life we have to swerve around and try something new.

Rolling

Wheels and squeals

Car wheels roll, and that’s the idea behind this word. To roll can simply mean to drive, but it can also mean that someone is leaving or going, as if they were “driving” away. People also use rolling to mean that they are laughing really hard, as if they were “rolling” on the ground and holding their stomach.

Funny trip

  • Do you want to roll in my truck tonight, or are we taking dad’s?
  • After the party we can roll to my house.
  • Oh my God, that movie was hilarious! I was rolling the whole time.

Read more: Rolling, Roll, Roll Out, & more

Cruising

Riding cool

Some people love to just get in their car and enjoy the ride. Cruising is driving low and slow with nowhere to go, but just having a cool time. Outside the car, it usually means the same thing but in a more general life sense. It can also mean to move through some situation really easily and smoothly.

Smooth move

  • Every Tuesday me and my cousins go cruising in our Chevys. Wanna come?
  • Everyone says how bad airport security is, but we just cruised through the last time.
a smiling man behind the steering wheel with his seatbelt buckled up
This guy’s buckled and ready to go. Humphrey Muleba

Buckle Up

Safety first … or not

Well, everyone’s got a different opinion on whether to buckle up their seatbelts or not. Whether you’re an all-the-time buckler or a never buckler, one thing remains consistent. Buckle up is also used to tell someone to get ready, because something big is surely coming.

Get ready!

  • Alright, Maddie. Let’s buckle up before we drive to school.
  • Buckle up, boys. This year’s vacation is going to be insane!

Riding / Rider / Ride Or Die

On the road together

Riding in a car or any vehicle can be lots of fun. Outside of that context though, riding might have to do with going together with someone, or being there for someone no matter what. A true and loyal companion. A rider or a ride or die also have these noble qualities.

True company

  • It’s fun to ride in the back of a pick-up truck.
  • I’m going to get some pizza. Are you riding?
  • Yeah, Marcy is a rider too, but Janelle is my ride-or-die. We’ve been through it all together.

Read more: Ride, Rider, Ride-or-Die, & more

Shift Gears

Switching course

No matter how popular automatic transmission gets, there always seem to be enough manual cars to practice driving stick shift. When you change from gear one to two and so on, that’s shifting gears. Now that I think of it, you can “shift gears” in an automatic car too. Just change from park to drive and whatnot.

Okay, so shifting gears has a similar meaning in other contexts, too. Changing one’s situation or circumstance comes to mind.

Nice maneuvers

  • Shifting gears can be hard for beginner drivers.
  • He was a great athlete before shifting gears and becoming an actor.

Pedal To The Metal

Pressing ahead

This is like putting your foot on the gas pedal as hard as you can, all the way to the floor. In a car, this means to drive as fast as you can. We tend to hear it a lot outside of cars too, since it can be used to tell someone to hurry up, give it all they’ve got, and put one’s full energy and effort into something.

Fast life youngsters

  • Did you see how fast Sarah was driving? She really likes to put the pedal to the metal.
  • Come on, son. Put the pedal to the metal and finish that homework. It’s almost midnight.

Also, here’s a resource I found useful for helping me write this article. They have plenty of cool car expressions!

**Thank you for reading. Great job coming to practice your English skills (or just for being curious)! Feel free to read similar posts here on the Blog, as well as share or comment. Can you think of other expressions that have to do with cars and driving? There are a lot out there. Well, drive safely, be careful, and happy learning! Peace.