25 Common Car Idioms Explained Simply


Idioms are phrases that don’t mean what they say literally. They often carry a figurative or metaphorical meaning, adding color and depth to our language.

When it comes to idioms about cars, they’re a part of everyday speech, even if we’re not always aware of it.

Cars are like speedy rockets, rushing down the street with a roar. Find more comparisons for cars here: Similes for Cars. If you’re interested in metaphorical descriptions of cars, you can explore them here: Metaphors for Cars.

What is an idiom for cars?

Idioms for cars are expressions or phrases that use terms related to automobiles to convey a particular meaning or idea.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

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These idioms often draw parallels between driving experiences and everyday situations, offering a unique perspective on various aspects of life.

Summary

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Hit the roadTo leave or start a journey.After packing up the car, it was time to hit the road for our family vacation.
Running on fumesOperating with very little fuel or energy left.After a long day at work, I was running on fumes and couldn’t wait to get home.
Backseat driverSomeone who gives unwanted advice or criticism, especially while not in control.I can’t stand being a passenger with my brother driving; he’s such a backseat driver.
Off to the racesTo begin something energetically or enthusiastically.Once the project was approved, the team was off to the races, working tirelessly.
In the driver’s seatTo be in control or in charge of a situation.With his promotion, John finally felt like he was in the driver’s seat of his career.
Drive someone up the wallTo annoy or irritate someone greatly.The constant noise from the construction site was driving me up the wall.
Running like a well-oiled machineOperating smoothly and efficiently.Thanks to the new management system, the office was running like a well-oiled machine.
Put the pedal to the metalTo go as fast as possible.We were running late, so I put the pedal to the metal to get to the airport on time.
Running on emptyOperating with no resources or energy left.After studying all night for the exam, I felt like I was running on empty.
On the road againResuming a journey or returning to a familiar activity.After recovering from his illness, Grandpa was excited to be on the road again.
Back on trackTo return to the correct path or direction.After a brief setback, Sarah was determined to get her project back on track.
Grease monkeyA person who works on cars, especially as a mechanic.My uncle is a skilled grease monkey; he can fix any car problem in no time.
Burn rubberTo accelerate quickly, causing the tires to spin and leave skid marks on the road.The teenager couldn’t resist the urge to burn rubber when he got behind the wheel.
Flat outTo work or move at maximum capacity or speed.We were flat out trying to finish the project before the deadline.
Under the hoodReferring to the internal workings or mechanisms of something, especially a car.The mechanic checked under the hood to diagnose the problem with the engine.
Kick it into high gearTo increase speed or effort, especially to deal with a challenging situation.With only a week left before the exams, Sarah knew she had to kick her studying into high gear.
Road hogA driver who takes up too much space on the road, often driving inconsiderately.The road hog in front of us was driving so slowly that we couldn’t pass him.
Shift gearsTo change focus or approach.After finishing her degree, Mary decided to shift gears and pursue a career in photography.
Breakneck speedExtremely fast or dangerously quick.The roller coaster descended at breakneck speed, thrilling and terrifying the riders.
Jump-startTo start or restart something quickly or forcefully.The new marketing campaign helped jump-start sales for the struggling company.
Back in the saddleReturning to a familiar activity or routine after a break or setback.After taking a year off to travel, Sarah was excited to be back in the saddle at her old job.
Steering clearTo avoid or stay away from something or someone.After the argument, Mark decided to steer clear of his coworker to avoid any further conflict.
Top gearOperating at maximum efficiency or capacity.With the new software updates, our computers are now running in top gear, improving productivity.
Brake the newsTo deliver bad or unwelcome news.It was difficult for Sarah to brake the news to her parents that she had failed her driving test.
Hit the brakesTo suddenly slow down or stop, especially to avoid a collision.When the deer darted onto the road, I had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting it.
idioms for cars

Car Idioms

1. Hit the road

Meaning: To leave or start a journey.
In a Sentence: After packing up the car, it was time to hit the road for our family vacation.

2. Running on fumes

Meaning: Operating with very little fuel or energy left.
In a Sentence: After a long day at work, I was running on fumes and couldn’t wait to get home and relax.

3. Backseat driver

Meaning: Someone who gives unwanted advice or criticism, especially while not being in control.
In a Sentence: I can’t stand being a passenger with my brother driving; he’s such a backseat driver, always telling me how to drive!

4. Off to the races

Meaning: To begin something energetically or enthusiastically.
In a Sentence: Once the project was approved, the team was off to the races, working tirelessly to meet the deadline.

5. In the driver’s seat

Meaning: To be in control or in charge of a situation.
In a Sentence: With his promotion, John finally felt like he was in the driver’s seat of his career.

6. Drive someone up the wall

Meaning: To annoy or irritate someone greatly.
In a Sentence: The constant noise from the construction site was driving me up the wall; I couldn’t concentrate at all.

7. Running like a well-oiled machine

Meaning: Operating smoothly and efficiently.
In a Sentence: Thanks to the new management system, the office was running like a well-oiled machine, with tasks being completed seamlessly.

8. Put the pedal to the metal

Meaning: To go as fast as possible.
In a Sentence: We were running late, so I put the pedal to the metal to get to the airport on time.

9. Running on empty

Meaning: Operating with no resources or energy left.
In a Sentence: After studying all night for the exam, I felt like I was running on empty and could barely keep my eyes open.

10. On the road again

Meaning: Resuming a journey or returning to a familiar activity.
In a Sentence: After recovering from his illness, Grandpa was excited to be on the road again, visiting all his favorite places.

11. Back on track

Meaning: To return to the correct path or direction.
In a Sentence: After a brief setback, Sarah was determined to get her project back on track and meet the deadline.

12. Grease monkey

Meaning: A person who works on cars, especially as a mechanic.
In a Sentence: My uncle is a skilled grease monkey; he can fix any car problem in no time.

13. Burn rubber

Meaning: To accelerate quickly, causing the tires to spin and leave skid marks on the road.
In a Sentence: The teenager couldn’t resist the urge to burn rubber when he got behind the wheel of his new sports car.

14. Flat out

Meaning: To work or move at maximum capacity or speed.
In a Sentence: We were flat out trying to finish the project before the deadline.

15. Under the hood

Meaning: Referring to the internal workings or mechanisms of something, especially a car.
In a Sentence: The mechanic checked under the hood to diagnose the problem with the engine.

16. Kick it into high gear

Meaning: To increase speed or effort, especially to deal with a challenging situation.
In a Sentence: With only a week left before the exams, Sarah knew she had to kick her studying into high gear.

17. Road hog

Meaning: A driver who takes up too much space on the road, often driving inconsiderately.
In a Sentence: The road hog in front of us was driving so slowly that we couldn’t pass him.

18. Shift gears

Meaning: To change focus or approach.
In a Sentence: After finishing her degree, Mary decided to shift gears and pursue a career in photography.

19. Breakneck speed

Meaning: Extremely fast or dangerously quick.
In a Sentence: The roller coaster descended at breakneck speed, thrilling and terrifying the riders at the same time.

20. Jump-start

Meaning: To start or restart something quickly or forcefully.
In a Sentence: The new marketing campaign helped jump-start sales for the struggling company.

21. Back in the saddle

Meaning: Returning to a familiar activity or routine after a break or setback.
In a Sentence: After taking a year off to travel, Sarah was excited to be back in the saddle at her old job.

22. Steering clear

Meaning: To avoid or stay away from something or someone.
In a Sentence: After the argument, Mark decided to steer clear of his coworker to avoid any further conflict.

23. Top gear

Meaning: Operating at maximum efficiency or capacity.
In a Sentence: With the new software updates, our computers are now running in top gear, improving productivity.

24. Brake the news

Meaning: To deliver bad or unwelcome news.
In a Sentence: It was difficult for Sarah to brake the news to her parents that she had failed her driving test.

25. Hit the brakes

Meaning: To suddenly slow down or stop, especially to avoid a collision.
In a Sentence: When the deer darted onto the road, I had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting it.

Here are 10 quizzes about the idioms mentioned in the article:

Quiz 1:

  1. What does the idiom “Hit the road” mean?
    • A) To start a journey.
    • B) To stop driving.
    • C) To sleep in the car.
    • D) To clean the car.

Quiz 2:

  1. If someone is “Running on fumes,” what does it imply?
    • A) They have plenty of energy.
    • B) They are operating with very little fuel or energy left.
    • C) They are resting comfortably.
    • D) They are running a marathon.

Quiz 3:

  1. What does the term “Backseat driver” refer to?
    • A) A professional chauffeur.
    • B) Someone who gives unwanted advice or criticism while not in control.
    • C) A person who enjoys driving.
    • D) A car mechanic.

Quiz 4:

  1. If someone is “Off to the races,” what are they doing?
    • A) Playing video games.
    • B) Beginning something energetically or enthusiastically.
    • C) Watching a sports event.
    • D) Sleeping.

Quiz 5:

  1. What does it mean to be “In the driver’s seat”?
    • A) To be a passenger in a car.
    • B) To be in control or in charge of a situation.
    • C) To be lost on the road.
    • D) To be a professional driver.

Quiz 6:

  1. If something is “Running like a well-oiled machine,” what does it imply?
    • A) It is malfunctioning.
    • B) It is operating smoothly and efficiently.
    • C) It needs repairs.
    • D) It is noisy.

Quiz 7:

  1. What does the idiom “Put the pedal to the metal” mean?
    • A) To drive slowly.
    • B) To go as fast as possible.
    • C) To stop driving.
    • D) To park the car.

Quiz 8:

  1. If someone is “Running on empty,” what does it mean?
    • A) They have plenty of resources.
    • B) They are operating with no resources or energy left.
    • C) They are sleeping.
    • D) They are exercising.

Quiz 9:

  1. What does the expression “On the road again” signify?
    • A) Resuming a journey or returning to a familiar activity.
    • B) Staying at home.
    • C) Driving for the first time.
    • D) Walking on a sidewalk.

Quiz 10:

  1. If someone is “Back on track,” what does it mean?
  • A) They are lost.
  • B) They are beginning something.
  • C) They are returning to the correct path or direction.
  • D) They are traveling.

Conclusion:

Understanding idioms related to cars can add color to your language skills. While these phrases might seem unrelated to driving, they’re commonly used in everyday conversation.

Cite this entry:

Phrasesdirectory.com. “,” Retrieved from Phrases Directory – Accessed

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