Automobile technology programs are most often offered at the certificate and associate's degree levels by community colleges and technical schools. Both prepare students to become auto repair professionals, though an associate's degree can lead to employment in a supervisory position for individuals with experience.
Students in an automobile technology program gain hands-on experience working with brake systems, heating and cooling systems, engines, electrical systems, steering systems and transmissions. In general, they learn how to install, maintain, repair and replace automotive parts. An associate's degree program in automotive technology typically includes general education courses in addition to the major courses.
The coursework in many of these programs prepares students for the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification exams. ASE certification assures customers that an auto repair technician is committed to quality repairs and professionalism, and its often preferred by employers.
Here are some major topics found in automobile technology courses:
- Shop safety
- Brake systems
- Engine repair
- Automobile electrical systems
- Heating and cooling systems
- Automobile transmissions
List of Courses
Introduction to Automotive Technology Course
To begin an education in automotive technology the first course a student should take is an introductory course. In an intro to automotive technology class, students take a general look into the major auto systems, which include cooling, engine, steering and suspension, transmission, electrical and braking systems. Students study manuals and focus their studies on potential future career opportunities, shop safety, certifications and environmental issues.
Brake Systems Course
Most courses in an automotive technology program are self-contained and can be taken any time during a student's education. Many courses, such as the brake systems course, specialize in one area and prepare students for the ASE certification in that area. Through classroom study and lab work, students gain hands-on experience inspecting and repairing drum, disk and anti-lock brakes. Wheel cylinder, master cylinders and hydraulics are also studied.
Engine Repair Course
Diagnosing and repairing engines and their components is the main focus of this course. Through hands-on experience, students gain knowledge of the disassembly and reassembly of diesel and gasoline engines, head gaskets and timing belts. This is an essential course in any automobile technology degree or certificate program.
Electrical Systems Course
This course provides a fundamental look at the electrical systems of automobiles. Students learn terminology and troubleshooting as well as the proper use of diagnostic test equipment. Students pay close attention to the components and circuits of the electrical system, including lighting, the battery and starter system.
Heating and Cooling Course
The installation and repair of heating and air conditioning systems is studied in this course. Students learn how to safely handle and recycle hazardous Freon that may be present in a car's heating and cooling systems. Students learn to identify potential problems and perform preventative maintenance on a vehicle's ventilation systems.
During this course, students learn how to diagnose, repair and install three-, four- and five-speed transmissions. Students pay special attention to advanced computer controlled transmissions and trans-axles. Students explore the differences between manual and automatic transmissions and learn how to diagnose and repair problems in each.