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Forty essential words you need to get your car fixed in Sweden

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Forty essential words you need to get your car fixed in Sweden
A mechanic looks under the hood of a Volkswagen Passat. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Even foreigners who have lived a long time in Sweden often find themselves struggling for the right words when they need to fix their car. Here are at least 40 essential words to know.



If you live in a city, it can make sense to keep your summer or winter tyres in a so-called däckhotell, literally a "tyre hotel". These are often, but not always, managed by a local mechanic.

If you have any luck, the two times a year you pop in to have your tyres changed will outnumber the times you come in for other, more troubling and expensive, reasons. 

Winter tyres can be either dubbdäck, which have metal studs and are for icy and snowy conditions, or friktionsdäck, which are designed for winter conditions but lack studs. Året runt-däck, allround-däck or universaldäck are tyres which are approved for winter use, but, unlike dubbdäck, can be used in the summer without damaging the roads.

A common slang word for tyres you might hear mechanics using is puckar (from hockey pucks, which are also made of vulcanised rubber). 

Someone who damages the road surface by not bothering to change their dubbdäck in summer is apparently known as a dubbtroll

A man repairing the engine of his car. Photo: Helena Landstedt/TT


A report from the Länsförsäkringar chain of insurance cooperatives cited problems with the engine as the main reason people submitted claims to fix their cars (possibly because engine faults tend to be the most expensive to repair). 

The mechanic is likely to start by plugging in the OBD-verktyg. This acronym is taken from the English "On Board Diagnostics", along with verktyg, the Swedish for "tool", and refers to the machine that plugs into your car to read what fault warnings have been triggered.  

The engine, or motor, is sometimes called rovan, by the sort of Swedes who spends their weekends dropping the suspension on 1950s American classics. 

According to Länsförsäkringar, the most common engine faults involve either the emissions cleaning system, avgasrening, or the camshaft or cam drive, which in Swedish is called the kamdrivning. 

If your mechanic starts talking about katten, he or she is not referring to a cat, but instead to the katalysator or "catalytic convertor", a part of the emissions system which frequently needs repairing or replacing. 

The camdrive system comprises the camshaft (kamaxel) and the cambelt or cam chain (kambälte or kamkedjan), with the latter most likely to cause you (expensive) problems. 

The carburetor or förgasare is also quite likely to go wrong but its typically fairly cheap to replace. Often problems with a carburetor will mean nothing more than replacing the gasket, or packning. Gaskets are often sealed in place with a sticky sealant, sometimes referred to by mechanics as apsnor, or "monkey snot". 

The cylinder head (topplock) is much less likely to cause you problems, but if it does get cracked or damaged is normally too expensive to be worth repairing. 

Quite often, the main thing you need to do to get your engine going well again will to top it up with engine oil or motorolja. 



You're quite likely to end up having to visit a mechanic to fix a fault with your gearbox (växellåda) or clutch (koppling). The fault could be with the clutch pedal (kopplingspedal), with the clutch plate (stålskiva) or, more likely perhaps, with the clutch friction disc (lamell).

If you can smell burning and are having trouble changing gears, you might also find that the flywheel, svänghjul, which helps smooth out the engine's pulses, is past its best. 

It is also very common for four-wheel drive cars to have problems with the "distribution box" or fördelningslåda. 


Electrical problems 

By far the most common electrical problem is of course a dead battery (ett dött batteri).

After testing it, the mechanic might conclude that the battery is just urladdat ("drained" or "empty"), which probably means there's a fault somewhere else in the electrical system (or you just left the lights on all night). If, on the other hand, the mechanic describes it as kass, a slang word meaning broken, this means it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced.

One reason it might be urladdat would be a faulty alternator, växelströmsgenerator, which will mean that the battery is not recharging while the car is running. 

If the battery is fine but the car just whirrs helplessly and won't start when you turn the key, it could be an issue with your starter motor or startmotor. Otherwise, you might find you just need to replace or clean the spark plugs, or tändstiften. Alternatively, you might have trouble with the ignition coils, or tändspole, which bring power to the spark plugs.

If the car is starting, but the electric windows, music system, or some other electric function isn't working it could be the something to do with the fuse box or säkringsdosa, which you could perhaps fix yourself by changing a fuse, säkring



The brakes or bromsen, get a lot of wear and tear, so sooner or later, you will need to at least replace the brake pads, or bromsbelägg, on your car. 

If your brakes go soft and you have to push much harder on the pedal to slow the car down, this could be a problem with the brake servo or bromsservo, a hydraulic or pneumatic system for reducing the force you need to apply when braking. You might also have leaking brake fluid or bromsvätska

If you've got ABS brakes, you might have problems with the ABS control system or ABS styrenhet. 

It's also quite common to need to tighten or replace the cable to the handbrake, handbroms, or parkeringsbroms if it's electric. 

The writer of this article would struggle to change a fuse, spark plug or battery, so cannot vouch for any mechanics advice in this article. If you spot any misunderstandings about how cars work, or indeed any linguistic errors or misconceptions, please point them out in the comments section below.  


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Gert Lindner 2024/02/28 10:57
working on cars for 48 years and owning a company for 31 years. Most of the items listed is maintenance items and they are required by the car manufacturer to replace at a certain mileage, if they are not replaced, the will cost major damage or void the warranty, and it's a really common problem that the consumer don't have it done or they take it to a shop who doesn't do work correctly

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