J2450—The Translation Quality Metric Widely Used by Leading Auto Manufacturers

An automobile is a mechanical product that is technology-intensive and involves complex operations. It requires a large amount of documentation, such as user manuals, maintenance manuals, insurance manuals, product specifications, patent application forms, and marketing manuals. Accurate translations of all this information ensure customer satisfaction and auto manufacturers’ success in global markets. Inaccurate translations; however, may result in product recalls, and may even compromise users’ safety. As such, evaluating the quality of translations for the automotive industry is of greatest importance.

Due to various languages, content, and evaluation standards used by evaluators for translation materials, translation quality evaluations in the past were largely subjective, making it difficult for auto manufacturers and language service providers (LSPs) to make a fair judgment. As a result, a consistent standard for evaluating translation quality was called for. This led to the development of the J2450 translation quality metric.

What is the J2450 metric?

In 1997 leading auto manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler initiated discussions with language service providers on the objective quality measurement of language translation in the automotive industry, and the under the direction of the SAE E/E Diagnostic Systems Committee, the J2450 translation quality metric (J2450 metric) was established.

The J2450 metric provides a translation error scoring system against which the quality of translation can be measured regardless of the source language, the target language, and how the translation is performed (i.e. human translation or machine translation). The metric provides the automotive industry with an objective, measurable, and widely applicable metric for evaluating translation quality.

How is the J2450 metric used to evaluate translation quality?

The SAE J2450 metric has seven primary error categories and two error classifications (namely, minor or serious). An evaluator has to first determine which of the seven categories an error falls under, and then make a judgment on whether the error is serious or minor. Finally, an overall score is tallied according to the weighted scores in all seven categories. A high score indicates that the translation is of low quality.

The seven error categories are:

  1. Wrong Term (WT)

Weight: 5/2 (Serious errors are given a weight of 5, and minor errors are given a weight of 2.)

A term is defined as any single word, multi-word phrase, abbreviation, acronym, number or numerals, or proper name. A wrong term is defined to be any target language term that:

  • Violates a client term glossary;
  • Is inconsistent with conventional or professional usage;
  • Is inconsistent with other translations of the source language term;
  • Denotes a concept that is different from the concept denoted by the source language term.
  1. Syntactic Error (SE)

Weight: 4/2

  • Wrong part of speech
  • Wrong phrase structure
  • Wrong order of words
  1. Omission (OM) & Addition (AD)

Weight: 4/2

An omission occurs if a continuous block of text in the source language has no counterpart in the target language text, and the reverse is true for an addition.

  1. Word Structure (WS)

Weight: 4/2

An error in word structure refers to an incorrect target language word or an incorrect form of a target language term, such as the wrong use of upper and lower case letters, gender, numbers, tense, and prefixes, suffixes and infixes.

  1. Misspelling (SP)

Weight: 3/1

  • Violating the spelling as stated in a client glossary;
  • Violating the accepted norms for spelling in the target language;
  • Being written in an incorrect or inappropriate writing system.
  1. Punctuation Error (PE)

Weight: 2/1

Punctuation errors in the target language texts are determined according to the punctuation rules for that language.

  1. Miscellaneous Error (ME)

Weight: 3/1

Not all errors can be clearly categorized under the other six categories. Examples include literal translations of idioms and expressions that are linguistically accurate but culturally inappropriate. The evaluator can use this category for obvious errors that are not easy to categorize.

Two error classifications

The J2450 metric classifies errors as serious or minor. An error must be classified as “serious” if it leads directly or indirectly to any:

  • Harm to the user, operator, patient, or consumer;
  • Damage to the product, or equipment used with the product;
  • Major misinterpretation of the author’s intent, or the client’s product or services;
  • Damage to the reputation of the client.


The J2450 metric is easy to follow and implement and offers large room for customization. (If a client or LSP feels that misspellings matter more than wrong terms, they may request modifying the weights.) All these make it a widely popular translation quality metric among the automotive industry and large translation service providers around the world. According to rough statistics from General Motors, one of the first adopters of the J2450 metric, the company utilized the metric to help reduce translation errors by 90%, shorten turnaround times by 75%, and cut translation costs by 80%.

EC Innovations has 22 years of experience in providing translation services for the automotive industry. Our compliance with the J2450 translation quality metric, and ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 certified quality management systems ensure that translations are faithful, expressive, and elegant as well as technically accurate.

To date, EC Innovations has provided premium translation services to numerous leading auto manufacturers including AVL, BMW, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Our stringent quality control framework and well-developed content management plans make sure that our auto manufacturer clients are better prepared to grasp opportunities for expanding globally.

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