Auto Tech: Real World Experience for students and discounted services for patrons


Auto Tech

By Christina Lieffring

The Automotive Technology department’s page doesn’t mention they provide car repair services, but that hasn’t stopped word from getting out.

“It’s not widely advertised because normally we have plenty of requests anyway,” said Department Chair JC James.

Services are only offered to current faculty, staff and students at the college. Labor is free but the car owner is responsible for the cost of parts and they can either supply the parts themselves or the department can acquire them for an additional fee.

They have no restrictions on the make or model of a car, although finding parts for brand new or older cars can be challenging, so cars that are only a few years old are preferred.

“Most vehicles [students] are going to work on [when they leave the college] are going to be 10 years old at the oldest,” said James.

The type of repair needs to fit with what the students are studying that semester, so anyone wanting their car repaired should check the college’s auto tech course listings. This semester, students are working on engine performance, air conditioning and heating and steering suspension and this fall they are studying electrical systems and brakes.

If you’re unsure what the problem is, email the department head (jjames19@ with the make, model and a description of the symptoms. If the problem fits one of the course subjects, the instructors will be asked if they can use the car in their class. If they say yes, the department head will respond with an estimate for time and parts.

Car owners must sign a waiver saying the college will not be held responsible if something goes wrong while they are repairing the car.

“Technically, we’re not here to fix your car,” said James. “So if something gets broken on your car, I’m sorry, but guess what? It’s your car, not ours.”

James said while accidents do happen (“because students make mistakes”), its not very often because they are being closely supervised.

If an additional problem is found while they are working with the car the owner will be informed. If the original problem cannot be corrected without first fixing the additional one, they will discuss the extra cost and time to fix the new problem. But if it is not connected, they will inform the owner that they need to have the additional problem fixed elsewhere.

James said working with actual vehicles enhances the students’ education.

“You can do so much with theory and you can do so much with trainers but there’s nothing quite like really working on the real thing and a real problem,” he said.

However, he wanted a reminder that the goal of the program is to teach the students about car repair, not necessarily provide a service.

“If a person’s ever in a hurry, don’t bring it to us,” he said. “It’s not going to work. If you need it done in a hurry you need to take it to a legitimate business.”

Contact Christina Lieffring, staff reporter, at


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