Online Automotive Technician Program | Penn Foster Career School

Automotive Technician Training Online School

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Auto Repair Technician Program Overview

ASE We Support Professional CertificationGet started on your path to becoming a auto repair technician in as little as six months with Penn Foster Career School's Automotive Technician training program. Learn how to become an auto mechanic and gain knowledge and skills relevant for working in settings like established repair shops, car dealerships, or even your own garage. The Penn Foster Career School Automotive Repair Technician Program, developed by ASE Master Technicians and leading experts in the field of automotive technology, will teach you relevant skills and subject matter. Through interactive content, video animations, terminology challenge games, recorded lectures, and optional real-world practical exercises, you can train at home on your own time, at a pace that’s right for you.

Start learning about engine types, automotive fuel systems, suspensions and more with Penn Foster's auto mechanic school!

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students to enter the automotive repair field by studying the major automotive systems and the procedures for troubleshooting and repairing those systems.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify automotive systems and engine components, and describe how the systems and parts work together to make a vehicle run
  • Describe the process of removing an engine from a vehicle and performing an engine rebuild
  • Recognize safety procedures that should be followed in an automotive repair shop, and list the various hand tools and specialized tools used when working with automotive systems
  • Recognize the steps necessary to attain certification in the automotive repair field
  • Identify different types of engines and the factors that affect engine performance
  • Describe how to perform routine maintenance procedures, including oil changes and tune-ups
  • Identify the theory and operation of automotive systems, including the cooling, lubrication, ignition, fuel, and electrical systems
  • Recognize how to troubleshoot problems on automotive systems, including lubrication, fuel, cooling, ignition, and electrical systems
  • Explain how to inspect and work on a vehicle's brake system
  • Identify vehicle computer systems, including how they allow technicians to diagnose and repair system malfunctions
  • Describe the steering and suspension systems, including the alignment process, and identify how worn parts affect a vehicle

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Auto Repair

In today's fast moving society, millions of people rely on trained Auto Repair Technicians to keep them on the go.


  • Discuss the employment possibilities available in the auto repair field.
  • List and describe the steps needed to attain National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification in the auto servicing field.
  • Name and describe the eight repair areas and operating systems in a vehicle.
  • Define the bore and stroke of an internal combustion engine.
  • Describe the basic operation of a four-stroke cycle internal combustion engine.
  • Define the terms for how engines are rated: torque, horsepower, displacement, and compression ratio.

Unit 2

Automotive Engines: Lower-End Assembly

The most important component in any car is the engine. It’s also the most serviced component. A complete understanding of engine components and operation is the first step toward engine repair.


  • Name and identify the components of the lower-end assembly of an internal combustion engine.
  • Explain the functions of the components of an internal combustion engine and how they work together to create power for a vehicle.
  • Discuss the impact that lower-end assembly component composition and design has on engine performance and cost.
Automotive Engines: Upper-End Assembly

The components and systems that you’ve already learned about work in conjunction with the ones you'll learn in this lesson.


  • Name and identify the components of the upper-end assembly of an internal combustion engine.
  • Explain the functions of the components of an internal combustion engine and how they work together to create power for a vehicle.
  • Discuss the impact that upper-end assembly component composition and design has on engine performance and cost.
Automotive Safety, Tools, and Equipment

Remaining safe from personal injury, not damaging the vehicles you service or the environment around you, and using tools and equipment properly are critical elements of a career in Automotive Repair.


  • Identify and describe the safety practices and procedures used in an automotive shop.
  • Describe the tools used in an automotive shop and explain how they’re used, including online service information.
Preventative Maintenance and Service Procedures

New technicians usually begin their careers with oil changes and basic systems maintenance, including cooling systems, fluids checks, filter replacements, and tire services.


  • Describe how to complete a repair order.
  • Demonstrate use of the three Cs (concern, cause, and correction).
  • Explain why it’s important to review the vehicle’s service history.
  • Explain the routing of a repair order in a typical new car/truck dealership.
  • Explain how to perform automotive engine oil and filter changes.
  • Perform routine vehicle fluid and maintenance checks.
  • Explain how to replace windshield wiper blades.
  • Describe how to rotate tires.
  • Describe how to install wheels and tighten lug nuts using a torque wrench in the proper sequence.
Scientific Principles and Math

Cars and light trucks have many major interactive systems, which are based on the applications of certain scientific and mathematical concepts.


  • Add and subtract decimal numbers and demonstrate how to multiply and divide.
  • Convert metric units of measurement by moving the decimal point.
  • Demonstrate the basic features of a calculator to add metric units and calculate percentages.
  • Explain ratios and relate this mathematical concept to automotive technology.
  • Estimate the compression ratio of an engine from measurements, compare the estimate with the engine specifications, determine how the ratio would change if the cylinder head were milled, and consider the effect on other engine parameters.
  • Use formulas to calculate torque, horsepower, and engine displacement for an internal combustion engine.
  • Read charts and graphs.
  • Explain energy, heat, temperature, thermodynamics, and pressure/vacuum and how they relate to gasoline-fueled automotive engines.
  • Define Newton’s three laws of motion.
  • Describe the applications of hydraulics in automotive technology.

Unit 3

Engine Repair

Learn to diagnose problems and repair the most important and most serviced component of any car...the engine.


  • Explain the importance of engine coolant systems.
  • Learn how to diagnose and repair cooling system problems.
  • Learn the methods used to diagnose and repair engine problems.
  • Know the causes of engine noises.
  • Know the tests used to determine engine condition.
  • Learn the steps involved in performing compression tests and cylinder leakage tests.
  • Learn how to remove an engine from a vehicle.
  • Learn how to reassemble an engine.
Additional Material

Textbook: Automotive Technology, 5th Edition

Unit 4

Electrical and Electronic Systems

With the introduction of computer controls and electrically powered convenience items, the electrical system has become a big part of a vehicle and its repair.


  • Explain the fundamentals of electricity, circuits, and their units of measure.
  • Apply electrical laws to circuits to troubleshoot and correct electrical problems.
  • Explain how networks and serial communication are used in modern vehicles.
  • Explain battery composition, construction, and functions within a vehicle.
  • Discuss the components and operation of a vehicle’s electrical systems and how to test and repair them.
Additional Material

Learning Aid: Digital Multimeter

Supplement: Multimeter Operation Manual

Unit 5

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

Today’s automobiles and light trucks have sophisticated HVAC systems that need to be serviced regularly.


  • Describe how an automotive heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system works.
  • Explain the air-conditioning refrigeration cycle and describe the operation of the expansion valve and orifice tube.
  • Learn how to service, diagnose, and repair heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning problems.

Unit 6

Engine Performance

Keeping an engine in top running condition requires an understanding of fuel, ignition, and emissions systems.


  • Identify and explain the characteristics of automotive fuels.
  • Describe the operation of computerized gasoline-engine ignition systems and their service.
  • Discuss the operation of computerized gasoline-engine system sensors and their service.
  • Explain the operation of gasoline-engine system fuel supply and return systems and their service.
  • Describe the operation of computerized gasoline-engine emission control systems and their service.
  • Discuss the operation of the OBD-II system and its service using electronic service tools, such as a scan tool.

Unit 7

Hybrid and Fuel Cell Vehicles

Modern technology and ecological awareness has transformed the automotive industry, and created openings for specialized technicians.


  • Discuss the evolution of electric vehicles.
  • List the classifications of hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Describe the operation of belt-alternator-starter (BAS) systems, common features of most hybrids, and the levels of hybrid vehicle.
  • Explain the important safety procedures required when servicing an HEV.
  • Identify the very specific service procedures needed to maintain an HEV.
  • Discuss fuel cells and advanced technologies for future vehicles to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Unit 8


No one would want a car with faulty brakes. It’s one of the most important systems of an automobile.


  • Learn how to service and maintain the braking systems.
  • Understand how the drum brake and disc brake systems operate.
  • Understand the function of an antilock braking system.
  • Troubleshoot and service a vehicle with antilock brakes.

Unit 9

Suspension and Steering

The suspension and steering systems keep the car firmly on the road in all kinds of weather.


  • Discuss the operation of wheels and tires and describe their diagnosis and repair.
  • Describe the operation of the suspension system and explain the diagnosis and repair of steering and suspension systems.
  • Identify wheel alignment angles and describe the diagnosis and adjustments used for a four-wheel alignment service.

Unit 10

Manual Drivetrain and Axles

Transmissions use an engine’s power to create motion. Control over that power is what manual transmissions are all about.


  • Explain the operation of a manual transmission or transaxle clutch system.
  • Describe the diagnosis and service of the clutch, flywheel, and control mechanisms.
  • Explain the operation, diagnosis, and service of a manual transmission and transaxle.
  • Discuss the operation, diagnosis, and service of driveshafts, U-joints, constant velocity (CV) joints, and differentials in the final drive.
  • Describe the operation of four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) systems.
  • Explain the diagnosis and service of the transfer case, hubs, and control system.

Unit 11

Automatic Transmissions and Transaxles

Transmissions can automatically control an engine’s power in modern complex automobiles.


  • Explain the operation of an automatic transmission and transaxle system, as well as that of the mechanical and hydraulic components.
  • Describe the diagnosis and service of an automatic transmission and transaxle system.
  • Explain the disassembly and overhaul of an automatic transmission and transaxle, including subcomponents and measurements.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Auto Repair Technician sample lesson, click here.

Automotive Repair Certification

The online Automotive Technician program curriculum is structured to help you prepare for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification Tests. The program teaches 8 popular ASE Certificate categories, including:

In addition, graduates of the program can receive up to two ASE Certification Practice test vouchers!

Work Experience Option

Upon completion of your program, the self-arranged Work Experience Option allows you to seek out and gain experience as an auto mechanic with an employer near you. Though this is not required for program completion, this optional exercise allows you to gain practical, hands-on experience in a work environment.

Auto Repair Technician Student Discount Program

Classic Car Restoration Club Video Resources
Students enrolled in the Auto Repair Technician Career Diploma Program are eligible for discounted rates for the Classic Car Restoration Club premium online how-to videos. This video resource site can serve as a supplement to your Penn Foster Career School program, but is not required to complete your coursework. Learn more about this offer here.


snap-on student discount Snap-on Student Excellence Program
Students enrolled in the Auto Repair Technician Program are eligible to participate in the Snap-on Student Excellence Program. This program allows students in trades and technology education programs to purchase high-quality Snap-on tools at a preferred student discount. Some restrictions may apply for total purchase and quantities of certain items. Click here to see the new Snap-on Catalog.

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

auto mechanic school online

Here are a few qualities that capable auto mechanics have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Problem solver: Finding the missing piece can be challenging and fun.
  • Persistent: You will work hard until you can successfully solve the problem at hand.
  • Honest: You are ethical in your work for customers.

Penn Foster Career School is an excellent institution. The Small Engine Repair Program provided me with a foundation of knowledge that has allowed me to begin the career of my dreams. I am very satisfied with the program that I completed at Penn Foster. Penn Foster Career School fulfilled everything they promised me in all aspects of taking this program.

- Larry Sheely, Small Engine Repair Graduate

Penn Foster school has given me the opportunity to become the best in diesel engine repair and I thank you.

- Michael Anthony, Diesel Engine Repair Graduate

Penn Foster cares about the student body and they want to see each and every one of us grow and be successful. I am absolutely honored to be apart of an organization like Penn Foster. The instructors are very thorough and I gained so much information from the career program I had chose.

- Douglas Brown, Penn Foster Career School student

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books, learning aids, and digital multimeter included
  • Program includes ASE certification preparation that’s integrated throughout your coursework
  • Up to two ASE Certification Practice test vouchers
  • Access to Snap-on Student Excellence Program offering up to a 50% discount on Snap-on products
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Auto Repair Tech academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising
  • 12-month introductory membership price (75% off!) of Classic Car Restoration Club premium online how-to videos

Are there any resources that will help prepare me for my next step towards becoming an Auto Repair Technician?

Your program includes ASE certification preparation integrated throughout your coursework. Each study guide matches one ASE certificate category, while test questions are in ASE certification test format. As a student of this program, you will be eligible to purchase Snap-On tools at a significant discount through the Snap-On Student Excellence program. In addition, as a supplemental component to your studies, you will also have the option to enroll in a 12-month introductory membership for a library of premium online how-to videos from Classic Car Restoration Club. Upon completion of the Automotive Repair Technician Program, you can receive up to two ASE Certification Practice test vouchers. You may use these vouchers for whichever two different certification practice tests they want to take, from the eight tests offered.

Is there an opportunity to get hands-on training as part of the Auto Repair Technician Career Diploma Program?

Yes! In addition to practical exercises that include suggested hands-on activities, the Auto Repair Technician Career Diploma Program has a Work Experience Option. The Work Experience Option gives graduates the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned in real-life, hands-on situations under the guidance of a professional automotive mechanic. Graduates are responsible for locating a facility in their local community where they can complete the Work Experience Option.

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