North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) conference

nacat conference

The 42nd North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) conference was held at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois, July 20-24. A welcome reception was held at the host hotel on Sunday evening, July 19 to help jump-start the week’s events. Over 200 automotive instructors from the United States and Canada attend this yearly event. The most important feature of this conference is that it includes more than 20 hours of update training required by instructors whose program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Federation (NATEF). The update technical and educational seminars presented by vendors, technical trainers or even the members themselves all at no cost to the organization. A typical day at NACAT included:

  • Breakfast at the hotel and then travel to the college for the first session, which started at 8 am.
  • Coffee break from 10:00-10:30 AM allowing time to talk to others between sessions.
  • Second technical/educational session was held from 10:30-12:00 noon.
  • Lunch on your own at the college café from 12:00-1:00 pm.
  • 1:00-2:30 pm- The third technical/educational session.
  • 2:30-3:00 pm- Break that usually included great cookies and other waist-busting food, as well as bottled water and soft drinks.
  • 3:00-5:00 pm- The fourth technical/educational session of the day.
  • The evenings were also planned (except for Monday evening) and included a BBQ on Tuesday evening, the trade show with pizza on Wednesday evening and the banquet on Thursday evening.

The trade show, held Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, was setup in the huge shop area of the automotive department at Joliet Junior College, which was air conditioned and well lighted with LED overhead lighting. The trade show had vendors from most of the suppliers of automotive service equipment and training aids, as well as all of the automotive textbook publishers. Pearson Education had a booth located in a high-travel area and had many instructors stop by to see the latest editions of the automotive professional technician series texts.

The conference ended Friday morning with a closing business meeting.
The NACAT conference will be held at San Jacinto College, in Pasadena, Texas which is near Houston, the third week in July of 2016.

Editors’ Note – This is a guest post by Jim Halderman, an esteemed automotive repair textbook author and contributor

ASE Industry Education Alliance Instructor Training Conference

ase conferenceThe annual ASE Industry Education Alliance Instructor Training Conference was held at the Westin Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, MO, on July 27-31, 2015. The conference was very well attended by over 300 participants that included over 250 automotive instructors. The event was enhanced by many corporate sponsors who help fund the many excellent meals and breaks.

  • Monday, July 27– A welcome reception was held at the host hotel from 6:30-8:30 PM.

  • Tuesday, July 28– The conference started with breakfast and a general session. A large group sessions of general interest to most secondary and post-secondary instructors followed.

  • WednesdayThursday, July 29-30– After breakfast each morning, the participants had a choice of nine technical sessions covering all aspects of automotive service and the latest technology. These sessions were either 90 or 120 minutes depending on the schedule allowing the trainer to tailor their presentations to the allocated time that best met their needs.

  • Wednesday Evening- 5:30-9:00 PM was the instructor diner and recognition banquet held at the host hotel.

  • Friday, July 31-The morning activity was a networking field trip to the Kansas City Automotive Museum, which was the last of the schedule activities for the conference.

What I learned:

From the presentation from ASE/NATEF, I learned

  • There are 350,000 ASE certified technicians
  • There are currently 135,465 students certified under the student certification program.
  • There are 2,357 NATEF certified automotive programs with 35,000 students.
  • The Automotive Training Manager Council (ATMC) was created in 1984.

In other presentations that I attended, I learned many details on the German ZF six and eight automatic transmissions as well as latest news and products from many vendors who were present and gave technical presentations.

What I presented:

Curt Ward from Joliet Junior College and I presented two 90-minute presentations. The first was a standing room only presentation from 1:00-2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and repeated on Thursday morning from 10:30 until 12 noon. We received many good questions and comments both during and after each presentation. Our presentation was titled “Diesel Diagnosis for the Gas Instructor”. This topic was in response to questions from automotive instructors at previous conferences who did not know what to teach or what was needed to teach light diesel engines. Light duty diesels are used in many European as well as Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Ram pickup trucks and are being produced in large numbers. This presentation resulted in many good questions and much discussion on how the instructors could start teaching light diesel in their classes.


The ASE Industry Education Alliance Instructor Training Conference offered very informative presentations, with great food and was held at super nice hotel in neat city. It does not get much better than that.

Editors' Note – This is a guest post by Jim Halderman, an esteemed automotive repair textbook author and contributor to  

California Automotive Teachers (CAT) Conference


cat conference

The semiannual CAT conference was held April 24-25, 2015 at Skyline College in San Bruno, California which is near the San Francisco airport. This two-day event started on Friday morning with tours of local hot rod shops as well as training sessions held at the college.

The Friday events included:

  • Pico Scopes, Down and Dirty Basics-Hands-On Workshop
  • Hiller Aviation Museum
  • Diagnosing with Pressure Transducers and the Pico Scope.
  • Roy Brizio Street Rods, Inc., Tour
  • Introduction to the Nissan Leaf
  • Diagnosing with Pressure Transducers and the Pico Scope.
  • Teaching CAN Bus

The events included lunch (BBQ) and dinner (Mexican) for all attendees which Pearson helped to fund. Training classes even extended into the evening after dinner with several training sessions being offered from 7:00 to 9:30 PM.
The conference continued Saturday with a trade show followed by two training sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon.
The Saturday sessions included:

  • 2015 All Electric Golf
  • Electric Vehicle Operation and Driving Strategies
  • Today Featuring the Nissan Leaf
  • Lubrication Fundamentals
  • Automotive Service Consultant
  • Toyota New Technology Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicle
  • Diagnosing Vehicle Electronics
  • K & N Engineering
  • Gas Direct Injection
  • Tips and Highlights for Successful Repairs in the Transmission Industry
  • Matching the Learning Materials to the Learners
  • Teaching Lab-Scope Diagnostics
  • Steering Angle Sensors & Advanced Alignment Angles

My session, on Saturday 10:30 to 11:45 AM, titled “Engine Oil Update” was very well attended with standing room only. I heard many compliments about this presentation because I included the many changes coming in late 2016, early 2017 regarding oil specifications driven by emissions and fuel economy mandates. One instructor, Mike Morse, said “Really liked your presentation on motor oil. Information was right on the cutting edge.” I posted this presentation on my website so that instructors can use it in their classes. To download this and other conference Halderman Power Points visit then click on “Jim’s stuff” at the top and then select “Conference Power Points”.
Attending the CAT conference is a “have to attend” event for me twice a year when CAT offers the fall conference in southern CA and the spring conference in northern CA. I have been attending these conferences now for over ten years and I believe that as a result, my textbooks are much improved due to the suggestions and feedback I receive from automotive instructors. Automotive instructors are not shy when it comes to letting you know what they want and I try to include these ideas and features into all titles and editions. Visit the CAT website for information on future conferences.

Bottom line:
Great CAT conference, excellent food and fantastic training sessions at a beautiful campus right next to the Pacific Ocean. It does not get much better than that!

Editor's Note – This article is by James Halderman, a contributor to Adam's Auto Advice.

SNL Rips Mary Barra and GM in Opening Sketch [VIDEO]

mary barra

Saturday Night Live (SNL) did a parody of the congressional hearing for tonight's episode with GM's CEO Mary Barra for the opening sketch over the General Motors (GM) ignition switch recall.  (In case you didn't know GM knew of the problem but didn't recall millions of vehicles which lead to 13 known deaths at the current time.)  Barra was played by SNL cast member Kate McKinnon who did a good job of playing the role not answering questions.

The opening sketch highlighted how during Mary Barra's testimony before Congress she dodged questions and avoided answering anything that members of Congress threw her way.  The way SNL portrayed it she essentially acted like she didn't know anything and wasn't aware of any problems GM had over the ignitions switches, steering columns, and other faulty mechanical components.  This has lead many to say Barra has done as good a job of being an automaker CEO as any man… since you just don't give any straight answers.

The Saturday Night Live segment also touched on how the GM honchos and executives are trying to point out the differences between “Old GM” and “New GM” which is sort of a ridiculous.  Why?  Because US taxpayers bailed them GM out back in 2009 and the company would not be around today if we hadn't done that.  Marry Barra's SNL sketch touched on this still sore point for many Americans.

Hate to say this but when SNL rips you in it's opening sketch for the week you pretty much know that your public relations is not going very well.  In addition your PR team isn't doing it's job very well and probably should be fired.

The Mary Barra GM ignition recall skit appeared on April 5th, 2014 with Anna Kendrick hosting and Pharrell Williams as the musical guest.  (They were not part of the opening sketch though.)

Did you see the SNL sketch making fun of the GM congressional hearing with Mary Barra?  If you did, what did you think of it?  Did Kate McKinnon portray Barra accurately?  Does GM deserve to be ridiculed on Saturday Night Live?  Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

UPDATE: The video was not avaialbe to openly share by Saturday Night Live and NBC when I posted this but now it is. Check it out here!

Mary Barra SNL Congressional Hearing – GM Ignition Recall

Top Gear USA Cancelled, Thank the Car Gods!

top gear usa
Top Gear USA Cancelled


If you are reading this, than you will be happy to hear Top Gear USA has been cancelled.  Thank the car gods!

History Channel decided to cancel Top Gear America after ratings have been in a steady decline.  While the show still ranks well in History Channel's overall cable line-up the high cost of production makes it hard to justify the continued cost to make the show.  The licensing fees that the BBC charges for use of the Top Gear brand in the US go up each year according to people who worked on the contractual agreements with the BBC.  This is a major factor for Top Gear USA getting cancelled since you can't bankroll a show that doesn't make money, even if some idiots like the show.

Finances are not the only reason for the Top Gear USA getting cancelled.  Rumors swirled that the 3 hosts of the American version of Top Gear; Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust, and Rutledge Wood have been fighting off the show.  Inside sources claim the three of them claim get along fine on camera but really don't behind-the-scenes.  Apparently Adam Ferrara wanted both Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust off the show as he felt he was the best host.  He even told the producers, and both hosts to their faces, that they should be replaced by people that are actually smart and funny.

Insiders close to the show have said that comments from Ferrara infuriated Tanner Foust so much he got into bit of a brawl with the New York comedian.  “Ferrara kicked Foust's ass” is what one source told me.  Wood seems to be more chill about the situation and it seems he will just go back to his position reporting full time on the NASCAR circuit.  History Channel and the producers for the show apparently had strongly considered replacing both Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood with other hosts when the show aired early on but nothing ever came of it.  Wood would have been easy to replace but finding a driver that was a good TV host was a more difficult task for the producers who used a BBC subsidiary for production.

Top Gear America was cancelled for another reason, it was giving people eye cancer since the show was so bad.  Reports from Ophthalmologists and Oncologists around the US, and around the world, have filed complaints and sent letters to the History Channel.  Most of these doctors are saying the same thing, that Top Gear USA is so terrible people can get eye cancer from watching the show for even short periods of time.  “Your chances of contracting eye cancer from watching Top Gear USA is almost guaranteed and we have seen some severe cases recently.  Short periods of watching the show might be alright but if you have been exposed at all we recommend you go to a hospital immediately to get checked.” said Dr. Gomes who is head of Oncology at Brigham Hospital in Blue Balls, Pennsylvania.  When asked about how many cases and if men or women were more affected, “We mainly see men getting cancer from Top Gear USA.  It's not quite as severe as when people watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, but pretty close.  We definitely see more women with Kardashian eye cancer.  With regards to Top Gear USA eye cancer we've seen a thousands of cases here in Blue Balls.”  When I asked about the original Top Gear UK on the BBC Dr. Gomes replied, “I love watching Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.  Unsure of how any other car show could compare to them.”  He also reassured me that all his patients were able to make full recoveries from the Top Gear America cancer.  The cure is pretty simple, full episodes of Top Gear UK on DVD for several days in a row.

Happy April 1st Everyone! 🙂

*Note if you are not aware of what April 1st is you should Google it.