Auto repair technicians don't necessary need postsecondary education; however, this training is becoming preferred. Most programs that prepare individuals for first-time employment in the auto repair field lead to a diploma, certificate or associate's degree in automotive technology or automotive repair. Non-degree programs can take between six months and a year, while associate's degree programs take around two years. Bachelor's programs are available but are typically designed for those who already have an associate's degree and want to pursue advanced study in automotive repair.
Students in these programs may complete some of their coursework online; however, courses usually have a hands-on component that teaches auto repair skills. Some schools have an on-site repair shop where students gain experience, while other schools require internships or cooperative education at a local shop. Graduates of auto repair programs may be prepared to take the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) auto tech certification exams, as well as pursue continuing education in specialties like high performance auto repair and hybrid engine repair.
Here are some common concepts taught in auto repair classes:
- Professional service writing
- Emissions repair
- Differences between manual and power steering
- Technical calculations
- Appropriate shop procedures
List of Classes
Engine Repair Course
In this first required auto repair class, students attend classroom lectures and participate in hands-on shop classes where they focus on internal combustion engines, shop protocol and safety precautions.
Students learn the theory of engine operation. They identify engine parts and how they work individually and as a whole. Lessons include the radiator, cooling system, belts, carburetor, pistons and piston rings. Students make visual assessments, take measurements using appropriate diagnostic instruments and perform inspections, tune ups and general repairs.
Steering, Suspension and Alignment Course
This course covers components of manual and power steering systems, including the steering wheel, steering column and steering shaft. Students identify needed repairs based on visual inspection and listening for particular noises.
Shop practice covers wheel alignment and adjustment and suspension system operation and repairs. Students learn how to repair and replace tires and related parts like wheel bearings and rims. In addition to gaining experience with tools used for diagnostics and repairs, students learn how to dispose of hazardous fluids.
Electrical Systems and Repair Course
Students in this required class get classroom and lab experience working on batteries, starters and ignition systems, with an emphasis on safe practices. They learn basic car wiring and how to work from wiring diagrams. Instructors teach troubleshooting using diagnostic tools like an oscilloscope and digital volt ohm meter. Most courses include peripheral electrical components like turn signals, windshield wipers and navigation systems.
Manual and Automatic Transmissions Course
Auto techs practice working on manual and automatic transmissions, drive shafts and drive trains in the classroom and in the auto shop. Coursework in this required class generally covers pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and 4-wheel drive systems, along with applicable electronic components. Students practice using system-specific diagnostic tools. They learn shop safety and the right way to use shop equipment and how to handle toxic transmission fluids.
Brake Systems Course
Braking systems are a required component of an auto repair program. Drum and disc, anti-lock and parking brake systems are studied in classroom settings and in auto labs. Students work on visual and mechanical inspection for preventive maintenance and repair activities. Auto repair health and safety standards specific to brake work are included in brake systems coursework.