Online Auto Repair Tech Course Curriculum | Penn Foster
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Automotive Repair Course Curriculum

Penn Foster's auto mechanic school helps you prepare for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification Tests!

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.

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

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Course Materials:

Textbook: Automotive Technology, 5th Edition

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 Course Materials:

Learning Aid: Digital Multimeter

Supplement: Multimeter Operation Manual

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Additional Details

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 in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.
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.
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.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

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Sample Auto Repair Technician Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what an auto repair technician course would look like.
Penn Foster Auto Repair Technician Sample Lesson
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 and Windows 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.
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