Story and photo by Carizma Barrera, Campus Editor
Paying for services can take a toll on student finances, but money-saving deals can often be found — even on college campuses. In each issue of Accent, I will explore a service provided by ACC students through their degree programs.
The students providing the services practice the skills of their trade and gain experience, while the customers receive professional services at reduced rates. Car repairs can be very expensive.
Between parts and labor, one repair can cost hundreds of dollars, if not more. However, work done through ACC’s Automotive Technology Department can be a money-saving alternative to using a traditional mechanic.
“Students and the instructors are constantly learning the newest techniques to work on the cars that come in,” Senior Tech Lab Assistant Santiago “Tony” Roque said. “The students appreciate the opportunity to have hands on experience, and we have a lot of returning customers.”
Customers save money because the department doesn’t charge labor fees. A shop fee of $45 is charged for each class that works on a vehicle. The fee helps pay for general supplies including paper towels, gloves and soap.
If a student had their fuel pump replaced, for example, and it took two classes to complete the job, the total price would be $90 (excluding the cost of the fuel pump). The labor charge alone on a fuel pump replacement can cost between $200 and $500 according to Cesar Bravo, a mechanic at Capitol Chevrolet. Over $100 in labor can be saved by getting the job done at ACC.
When ACC automotive customers bring their own parts, they also save the 25 percent markup fee the college charges on the parts it orders. However, only new parts are accepted. This measure protects the students performing the repairs from liability — in case the used parts were to fail.
This hands-on approach of student-provided services is designed to strengthen lessons learned in the classroom.
“I like that the instructors let us do the work ourselves,” Leticia Trujillo, a first year student in the auto tech department said. “They give us a task and will come to check up on us, but we use each other as our guides.”
Auto tech student Amir Pari has worked on his own car under the guidance of his professors.
“The instructors teaching me how to work on my car, has saved me thousands of dollars. But more importantly, it has taught me the skills to work on cars in the future.”
With students doing all the work, some may worry about the quality of the repairs and if any warranties apply. The auto tech program at ACC is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. Lab assistant Roque said although warranties are not offered, if a part malfunctions within the semester it was fixed, the class will fix it at no charge. The $45 shop fee also covers parts that may be broken in the repair process.
Pari and his fellow students in the auto tech department learn how to handle steering and suspension issues, spark plug problems and engine light diagnostics. However, as with any class, there are limitations on what can be taught. Auto tech classes do not offer engine or transmission overhauls, vehicle inspection stickers, or catalytic converter replacements, because welding is not available to the students.
While some services are not provided at ACC, other routine services may be cheaper when handled outside of the school setting. For example, coupons from local repair shops can reduce the cost of an oil change to less than $20. This price often includes the cost of oil and labor, which beats ACC’s $45 shop fee. But, for repairs that require more time, therefore higher labor costs, it may be cheaper to go through ACC.
Auto tech student Donald Campbell said, “As long as students support other students in their curriculums and courses, like the automotive, physical fitness, and culinary departments, that’s what makes ACC stronger. It supports ACC and it keeps us learning.”