20 CAR Idioms: Useful Car, Speed and Driving Idioms & Sayings

Language is an ever-evolving road, and within it, idioms offer a creative detour to express complex ideas through simple, vivid imagery. Idioms related to cars, speed, and driving often reflect the high-paced nature of our lives and communicate experiences that transcend the literal aspects of driving. When we use expressions like “put the pedal to the metal” or “in the driver’s seat,” we navigate beyond the confines of the road, tapping into a shared cultural understanding.

List of Idioms and Sayings about Car, Driving and Speed

Car Idioms & Driving Idioms

  • 3-On-The-Tree
  • All Roads Lead to Rome
  • Amber Gambler
  • Backseat Driver
  • Chop Shop
  • Down the road
  • Put the Brakes On
  • Put the Pedal to the Metal
  • To carpool
  • To have one for the road
  • U Turn
  • You’re driving me nuts

Speed Idioms

  • Run Out of Steam
  • Hell for Leather
  • Quick-and-Dirty
  • Quick as a Flash
  • Dead Heat
  • Dead Run
  • At a snail’s pace
  • Beat the clock

Driving and Car Idioms with Meaning and Examples

List of car idioms with meaning and example sentences.


  • Meaning: On an automobile (especially those produced from 1939 through the mid-1970s), a three-speed manual transmission whose gearshift lever is mounted on the steering column
  • Example: Three-on-the-tree was a common way of mounting the gearshift lever on old pickup trucks.

All Roads Lead to Rome

  • Meaning: There is more than one effective way to do something; many different methods will produce the same result
  • Example: It doesn’t really matter which part of the project you start with – all roads lead to Rome.

Amber Gambler

  • Meaning: Someone who accelerates to try to cross an intersection before a traffic light turns red
  • Example: I don’t like riding in a car with Susan – she’s an amber gambler.

Backseat Driver

  • Meaning: Someone who likes to give (often annoying) advice to the driver of a car, or the leader of some other enterprise
  • Example: Nick is sort of a backseat driver. He’s full of suggestions for the project, but he avoids taking any responsibility for his suggestions.

Chop Shop

  • Meaning: A shop where stolen cars are disassembled for parts
  • Example: My car was stolen earlier this week, but I didn’t notice it was missing until today. I’m sure it’s in a chop shop by now.

Down the road

  • Meaning: In the future (in your lifetime)
  • Example: If you don’t do your homework now, it’ll be a problem down the road when you don’t know the material for the exam.

Put the Brakes On

  • Meaning: Slow something down
  • Example: Higher coal prices put the brakes on industrial activities in the second quarter.

Put the Pedal to the Metal

  • Meaning: Drive as fast as possible
  • Example: I’m late for my best friend’s wedding. Put the pedal to the metal!

To carpool

  • Meaning: To travel to the same place with a group of people in one car. e.g. work/school
  • Example: They still carpool to work and room together on the road.

To have one for the road

  • Meaning: To have one last (alcoholic) drink before you go home
  • Example: Before I went home, she persuaded me to have one for the road.

U Turn

  • Meaning: A complete change of opinion, direction, etc.
  • Example: My father has always invested conservatively, but this month he made a U turn and backed a completely speculative company.

You’re driving me nuts

  • Meaning: To make someone giddy or crazy
  • Example: I’ll sit there and yell and point and drive you nuts, ’cause you’re driving me nuts, Adrian.

Speed Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Speed Idioms with Meaning

Idiom Meaning
Run Out of Steam To become exhausted, lose energy, or lose the motivation to continue doing something.
Hell for Leather At great speed or with great energy and determination.
Quick-and-Dirty Done quickly and without attention to detail, often as a temporary or makeshift solution.
Quick as a Flash Very quickly or immediately.
Dead Heat A situation in a race or competition where two or more competitors finish at exactly the same time.
Dead Run A very fast or uncontrolled run.
At a snail’s pace Moving very slowly or at a very leisurely rate.
Beat the clock To finish something just before the time available for doing it runs out.

Speed Idioms with Examples

Idiom Example Sentences
Run Out of Steam After running for 10 miles, he started to run out of steam and had to slow down.
Hell for Leather When the fire alarm went off, everyone ran hell for leather to evacuate the building.
Quick-and-Dirty They came up with a quick-and-dirty solution to meet the deadline, but it wasn’t a long-term fix.
Quick as a Flash When she heard the news, she was out the door quick as a flash to catch the last train.
Dead Heat The two athletes crossed the finish line at the same time, resulting in a dead heat for first place.
Dead Run The horse was in a dead run, galloping at full speed toward the finish line.
At a snail’s pace The traffic was moving at a snail’s pace, and it took hours to reach our destination.
Beat the clock Despite the tight deadline, they managed to beat the clock and submit the project on time.

Car Idioms, Speed and Driving Idioms | Image

List of Frequently Used CAR Idioms in EnglishPin

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Last Updated on November 21, 2023

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