Any idea what "LX, DX, GT, LS, LE", etc. mean when car shopping?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm going to buy my first car ever. Many dealer salesmen talked a lot about "LX, DX, GT, LS, LE, etc." All of these letters confuse me. I consulted some car books, but I got no help. Help, please.

TOM: I'm glad you asked, Cory. A lot of people are confused by all these letters, and we welcome the opportunity to shed some light on this subject.

RAY: It's a little known fact that these letters are actually coded signals to the mechanic. They illuminate--albeit in cryptic form--problems that are common to that particular make and model of car.

TOM: For instance, when the mechanic sees GT on the back of a car, he knows to look for a "grinding transmission." LE tells the mechanic that the car has a "lousy engine."

RAY: LX is "leaky exhaust." DX, the less expensive version, generally comes with a "dangling exhaust."

TOM: Volkswagon made an SLC, which stood for "severely low compression." GS has "gas-fouled sparkplugs." Then there's GSR, which means "glass sunroof rattles."

RAY: Then we have the DL, which is used by more than one manufacturer. On some cars, it means "deficient lubrication," on others it means "damaged lifters," and in eastern Europe, it means "deleted lugnuts."

TOM: SC stands for "scored cylinders." The LS is "loose steering," and you can move up to the SLS, which has "super loose steering."

RAY: If you're aware of the meanings of other letters, send them to us in care of this newspaper. We're always looking to update our files.

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