In this English lesson, you’re going to learn 73 phrases related to cars and driving.

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Phrases Related to Cars and Driving:

Find your keys / take them out of your pocket: I usually keep my keys in one place. But sometimes, I misplace them and have to find them. Here are more examples:

  • I can’t find my keys!
  • Have you seen my keys?

Unlock the car: these days, most cars are unlocked electronically.

  • Can you unlock the car? I forgot to take my bag out.
  • Do you lock your car at night?

Open the door: some of the newer cars have automatic doors but most don’t.

  • Can you open the door for my grandma?
  • Don’t open the door until we’ve stopped! (first conditional)

Get in the car: if you have young children, this can be challenging! To get back in the car is often used at service stations/rest stops.

  • Come on, get in the car
  • Let’s get back in the car
  • I can’t get out of the car because I hurt my knee

Put on/fasten your seatbelt: Both of these terms are used.

  • I can’t put my seatbelt on – it’s stuck!
  • Come on, put on your seatbelt
  • We’re not going anywhere until you put on your seatbelt
  • Don’t take off your seatbelt yet

Take off / release the handbrake: this is called a parking brake in the USA.

  • So, I was driving the other day and realized that I had forgotten to take off the handbrake. No wonder it was driving slowly.
  • It’s hard to take off the handbrake!

Start the car: You can also turn it on.

  • I’m sorry I’m late. The car wouldn’t start
  • Come on, let’s go – start the car
  • Turn the car off!

Automatic vs manual cars: automatic cars change gears automatically, whereas, with manual cars, you change gears manually

  • I’ve never driven a manual car
  • Automatic cars are much easier to drive

Put it into…..: this is how you talk about changing gears

  • Put it into 2nd
  • I put it into 5th as soon as possible on the motorway
  • Drop it into 2nd at this roundabout (to go from 3rd to 2nd)
  • Put it into drive
  • Put it into reverse
  • Put it into park

Step on the…: this is the verb used to talk about the various pedals in cars. You can also use hit.

  • Step on the brake
  • Step on the gas/accelerator a little more
  • Hit the brake

You can also use the verb to brake or accelerate:

  • I broke too late and ended up hitting the car in front
  • Accelerate to get past that car

Turn/put on things: there are many buttons on the dashboard. You turn/put on or turn off these things.

  • can you turn off the AC?
  • let’s put on the heating
  • should we put on the radio?
  • turn on your hazards here
  • Did you turn on your lights?
  • is the AC on?
  • You can turn your hazards off now
  • Can you turn that off?

You can also turn up/down these things too.

  • turn it down a bit
  • can you turn up the AC?
  • it’s roasting in here – I’m going to turn down the heating

Put the windows up/down: in the past, people also said wind the windows down but now, the verb is put.

  • Want to turn off the AC and put the windows down?
  • Can you put your window up? We’re on the highway now
  • Let’s put the windows down

Indicators/turn signals: The latter is British English. Here are some examples:

  • Is my left indicator working?
  • No one indicates in America
  • It’s important to indicate to let people know where you’re going
  • put on your turn signal at this traffic circle (American English)

We’re doing/going 70 MPH: you can use both verbs here – MPH = miles per hour

  • we’re doing about 70 mph
  • he must be going at least 110 mph
  • I was only going 73 mph and I got pulled over
  • can you go a little faster?

Speed up and slow down: you can also go faster/slowers

  • slow down a little – these are tight bends
  • speed up a little – you’re only going 45 in a 60
  • can you go a little slower? I’m getting car sick

Turn left – take your second right: Giving directions is always fun!

  • turn left after this pub
  • take this right
  • go straight ahead at this roundabout
  • you missed your turn again!

Rush hour traffic: Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic!

  • I’m going to be a little late. I’m stuck in traffic.
  • Has there been an accident? We’re just not moving.
  • Try and avoid rush hour if you can
  • It’s bumper to bumper

To set off: this means to start a journey

  • Let’s set off at 7 AM
  • Do you think we should set off early morning?
  • Do you think we should set off before 7?
  • Have you set off yet?

A long/short drive: this describes the length of the car journey

  • It’s a long drive – let’s get a good night’s sleep
  • It’s only a short drive – the kids should be fine

A backseat driver: someone who constantly talks to the driver telling them how they should drive.

  • Stop being a backseat driver
  • He’s a bit of a backseat driver
  • You’re a bit close to that car in front

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