The automobile's many electrical
systems present quite a challenge to the individuals who make a
living repairing automobiles. The tremendous variety of
electrical systems from the vehicle manufacturers has created the
need for an established process to solve problems that arise.
The days of knowing each electrical system like the back of your
hand are gone. For instance, it is not uncommon to encounter
five different methods of activating the daytime running lights on
General Motors vehicles alone. The mechanic of today can
expect to see different electrical systems utilizing different
electrical controls with an entirely different set of symptoms
The students in the automotive
electrical diagnosis class will begin to think about developing a
process for electrical troubleshooting that works best for them.
With facilitation from the instructor, students are guided to work
through a step by step process which can be utilized when
encountering any electrical problem. This project is useful
for high school automotive students, but is designed primarily for
community/technical college automotive students where a specific
course of this nature is likely to be found.
The basis of this real world
learning object is a website,
www.iatn.net, which serves as a communications point that
involves automotive technician members from around the world.
This International Automotive Technicians' Network, as of March,
2006, has a membership of 49,126. The rules for membership are
that you must be a working automotive professional with at least
four years of full time experience or ASE certification, and you
must also abide by the iATN Member Agreement.
Students in most automotive
electrical diagnosis classes will NOT have four years of full time
experience, and most students will NOT have ASE certification.
For this reason, all students cannot be expected to become members,
so the instructor must enroll as a member. Once the instructor
is enrolled as a member the instructor has access to forums
(discussion boards) that are concerned with technical issues, new
tool reviews, shop management issues, automotive educator concerns,
and the like.
Another aspect of membership is
joining the website's listserv. The listserv allows the
members to email each other concerning problems they are having on
cars, and seek out replies on suggestions for an appropriate repair.
After a member provides vehicle information about make, model,
mileage, area of repair concern, and a description of the problem to
an area on the website, an email is sent out to all members
interested in receiving problems of this type. You have an
option to reply to this email and give assistance to the technician
with the problem. You do not have to respond. You will
also receive an email response from the individual with the initial
problem once the problem has been corrected, so you know the fix for
the vehicle. The problems reported are from real world
automobiles in real auto repair facilities, with real world
mechanics providing the information.
The instructor will select
electrical problems, which are continuously coming into their email
system, as the foundations for determining how students will go
about troubleshooting the concerns. The instructor uses the
exercise early in the course during a class with guided small group
discussion or as a homework assignment.
Students will take a real world
automotive electrical concern, provide a plan for diagnosing the
vehicle, and when the time is appropriate, learn from their
instructor the real fix for the vehicle. With facilitation
from the instructor, developing a diagnostic strategy with a real
world problem is initiated by the automotive electrical diagnosis