n station wagon.
n the “stick” of a stick-shift car. This applies to cars with manual transmission – automatic cars in the U.K. are reserved for pensioners, the severely disabled and Americans.
n transmission. The box of gears that sits between the engine and the prop shaft of a car.
interj yield. This phrase on a road sign means that, at the junction you’re approaching, other traffic has the right of way. The signs themselves are white upward-pointing triangles with a red line around them. Americans have similar signs but the arrow is downward-pointing, and they have “Yield” written on them instead. Americans used to have yellow ones, but this turns out to be a whole separate topic that I don’t want to get into.
n emergency brake (on a car). A handbrake operates like a normal brake pedal but only on the rear wheels. Before the days of speed-cameras, Brits used to use the handbrake to slow down when they passed police cars as the brake lights don’t go on and it’s not so obvious you were speeding.
n shoulder. The poorly-surfaced bit at the side of the road that you’re only supposed to drive on if you’ve broken down, have fallen asleep at the wheel or desperately need to wee.
n convertible top. The part of a convertible car that, well, converts. This only serves to complicate the bonnet/boot confusion. Brits do not use “hood” as an abbreviation of “neighbourhood,” unless they are trying to act like American rap stars. Brits are not very good at that, although it doesn’t stop them trying.
n turn signal. The little orange lights that flash on the side of the car to show that you’re about to frantically try and turn across four lanes of traffic into your driveway.
n jumper cables. The pair of heavy wires which you use to connect the battery of your working car to the battery of your dead car, or to a person from whom you wish to extract information.
n big white square stickers with a red letter “L” in them, which have to be put on the front and back of a car that’s being driven by a learner driver (i.e. someone on a provisional license). There’s no real American equivalent.
n rest area. A little parking area off the side of a main road (usually a motorway), where people generally stop to have a sandwich, let their children vomit, empty the dog or copulate with their work colleagues. Perhaps this is where the name came from.
n car window. Largely obsolete – most seen in modern English inside the term “quarterlights,” which is used to refer to those small windows a little ahead of the front door windows, near where the mirrors are attached. “Light” is used in the U.S. architecturally to refer to the individual panes of a split window. The etymology of the term is nautical – small prisms were inserted in the decks of sailing ships to improve visibility below deck, and these themselves became known as “lights.”
n odometer. The thing that tells you how far you’ve gone in the car. A fairly antiquated term.
n commercial car parking garage with, well, many floors. Americans call the same building a “parking ramp,” “parking structure” or “parking deck,” depending upon where they are in the country.