By Kathryn Rice
With technological advances being built into the items consumers buy, Northwest Technical School’s automotive technology class has incorporated the tech needed to repair today’s vehicles.
Steve Holtman, instructor, explained some of the new machines and tools available for his students’ learning experiences.
The newest machine uses computerized alignment with a camera-targeted system to put a 3-D image on the screen to show how the car’s alignment needs to be adjusted.
Vehicles with lane departure assist take extra steps for the alignment. The students must reorientate the computer to the adjustments made to the wheels.
A rim clamp tire changer with helper arms help the students change low profile tires. These are tires with a shorter sidewall height and a wide tread. Low profile tires typically have wider contact patches on the road. These tires tend to offer enhanced traction and grip when it comes to steering and handling performance.
The tires are prevalent on imports and newer vehicles and can also be an after-market addition to a vehicle. Holtman said the tires are more difficult to change than the regular sidewall height tires. By having this machine, the students gain experience with the repair of these tires.
Another machine the automotive tech class has acquired is a road force balancer which simulates the weight of the vehicle as it rolls to balance the tire.
During the summer, Holtman attends training courses in Kansas City and Springfield to keep abreast with the ever-changing landscape of automotive repair.
“The modern car will have 20 to 30 computers and we have to be able to access the trouble codes and data to diagnose and repair,” Holtman said.
The students are trained with a variety of scan tools for the vehicle’s engine management computers. They gain actual work experience by working on “live” vehicles owned by the school, teachers and students.
The students in the automotive technology class have entry level skills going into the workplace and will gain knowledge with experience. Most of Holtman’s students go on to further their education and several go into the military.