Advanced Engine Performance (College)

by justin flint

This is the capstone course in the Transportation Pathway that offers students the advanced skills required for accurate diagnosis and repair of ignition, fuel, emission, and engine management systems related to engine performance. The theory and construction of advanced engine performance systems found in automotive, agricultural and industrial applications will be covered. Demonstrated lecture, simulated problem diagnosis and practical application on "live" vehicles will be used. Upon successful completion of this course students are eligible for a Certificate of Achievement in Engine Performance. The course also prepares students for the A-8 and L1 ASE exams.

Program Information
Course Certification Elements
Course Competencies / Outcomes
  • STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:
    •  effectively utilize the capabilities of a scan tool to analyze and interpret test results or data to solve automotive repair problems. 
    • analyze ignition, fuel and emission malfunctions and be able to formulate a diagnostic strategy 
    • perform pinpoint tests on ignition, fuel, and emission sensors/actuators then compare the readings against factory specifications. 
    • COURSE OBJECTIVES a) Students will understand the theory and operation of advanced computer controlled automotive fuel and emission systems and how they interact with each other. b) Students will learn how to recognize various common drivability and emission problems c) Students will learn how to read flow charts d) Students will lean advance test procedures e) Students will understand the operation and proper use of test equipment

Course Competencies

  • Visual inspection procedures to verify required emission components are present and properly installed
  • Inspect, test, and service positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) filter/breather cap, valve, tubes, orifices, and hoses; perform necessary action.
  •  Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system; determine necessary action.
  • Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the secondary air injection and catalytic converter systems; determine necessary action.
  • Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the evaporative emissions control system; determine necessary action.
  • Inspect and test electrical/electronic sensors, controls, and wiring of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems; perform necessary action.
  •  Inspect, test, service, and replace components of the EGR system including tubing, exhaust passages, vacuum/pressure controls, filters, and hoses; perform necessary action. (Vacuum drop testing)
  • Inspect and test electrical/electronically-operated components and circuits of air injection systems; perform necessary action.
  • Inspect and test catalytic converter efficiency. (eg. Cranking Cat Test)
  • Inspect and test components and hoses of the evaporative emissions control system; perform necessary action. (Smoke test Evap system)
  • Use Scan Tool bi-directional controls to test Evap, EGR and Air Injection
  • Inspect and test computerized engine control system sensors, powertrain/engine control module (PCM/ECM), actuators, and circuits using a graphing multi-meter (GMM)/digital storage oscilloscope (DSO); perform necessary action
  • This will include sensor pinpoint testing of: TPS, MAP, CKP, CMP, O2, IAT, MAF, EGR position senesor, computer power and grounds and actuators. 
  • Inspect throttle body, air induction system, intake manifold and gaskets for vacuum leaks and/or unmetered air.; Verify idle control operation.
  • Retrieve and record diagnostic trouble codes, OBD monitor status, and freeze frame data; clear codes for OBD I and OBD II vehicles when applicable
  • Interpret diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and scan tool data and determine necessary action
  • Inspect Fuel Management and Fuel Control systems; Interpreting and understanding the relationship between long term fuel trim, short term fuel trim, oxygen sensors/air fuel ratio sensors and injector pulse through lab task sheets. 
  • Oxygen sensor and air fuel ration sensor tests for sensor signals and heater circuit diagnosis
  • Propane enrichment tests for oxygen sensors to determine switch rate. 
  • Idle air control diagnosis and service
  • Inspect and test fuel pumps current and rpm. Determine necessary action
  • Inspect and test fuel injectors signature. Determine necessary action.
  • Inspect and test fuel injectors current at injectors and at common power supply. Determine necessary action.
  • Relative compression tests
  • Mechanical analysis using pressure waveform 
  • Camshaft and Crankshaft synchronization verification
  • Scope test the primary ignition of a coil on plug ignition using an oscilloscope or GMM
  • Scope test the secondary ignition using inductive probe adapters of the oscilloscope or GMM
  • Current ramp the primary ignition of a single coil 
  • Current ramp multiple coils through a common fuse or relay 
  •  Access and use service information to perform step-by-step (troubleshooting) diagnosis. 
  • Describe the importance of running all OBDII monitors for repair verification. 
  • Diagnose the causes of emissions or driveability concerns with stored or active diagnostic trouble codes; obtain, graph, interpret scan tool data and follow factory flow charts to determine the root cause of the failure. 
  • Diagnose emissions or driveability concerns without stored diagnostic trouble codes; determine necessary action. 
  •  Diagnose driveability and emissions problems resulting from malfunctions of interrelated systems (cruise control, security alarms, suspension controls, traction controls, A/C, automatic transmissions, non-OEM installed accessories, or similar systems); determine necessary action. 
  • Test and Inspect Electronic Throttle Control systems
  • Test and Inspect Variable Valve Timing systems
  • Test and Inspect Gasoline Direct Injection Systems
  • Test and Inspect throttle body, air induction systems and perform relearn procedures and determine necessary action.
  • Diagnose (troubleshoot) hot or cold no-starting, hard starting, poor driveability, incorrect idle speed, poor idle, flooding,hesitation, surging, engine misfire, power loss, stalling, poor mileage, dieseling, and emissions problems; determine necessary action


  • ONet Tasks and Detailed Work Activities as determined appropriate for this course and where it exists in the overall pathway sequence.  Example O*Net Automotive Master Mechanics - 49-3023.01
    • Confer with customers to obtain descriptions of vehicle problems and to discuss work to be performed and future repair requirements.
    • Disassemble units and inspect parts for wear, using micrometers, calipers, and gauges.
    • Maintain cleanliness of work area.
    • Perform routine and scheduled maintenance services and tune-ups.
    • Plan work procedures, using charts, technical manuals, and experience.
    • Repair and service and electrical systems.
    • Review work orders and discuss work with supervisors.
    • Rewire ignition systems, lights, and instrument panels.
  • Test and adjust repaired systems to meet manufacturers' performance specifications.
  • Test drive vehicles and test components and systems, using equipment such as infrared engine analyzers, compression gauges, and computerized diagnostic devices.




Course Work Based Learning Activities
  • Hands-on Lab activities on shop vehicles
  • Hands-on work on customer vehicles
  • Internships at repair shops and dealerships
Course Materials
  • Halderman, J. D.. (2016) Automotive Technology: Principles, Diagnosis,and Service, 5th Edition, Prentice Hall

  • Sample of Specialty tools necessary for the class: Scantool, DVOM, Labscope (PICO scope and Vantage most common), Hand tools, Timing light, 5 gas analyzer, propane enrichment tools, Compression tester, leak down tester, vacuum gauge, backpressure gauge, Computer based service information and subscriptions, Ignition scope, fuel pressure gauge, noid light, test light, hand held vacuum pump, vehicle lifts, shop vehicles, +OBDII certified. 


Course Units (1 semester course)

Emissions Control Systems Diagnosis and Repair

Unit Length (Hours): 12

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapters 83 "Evaporative Emission Control Systems", 84 "Exhaust Gas Recirculation Systems", 85 "Positive Crankcase Ventilation and Secondary Air Injection Systems", and 86 "Catalytic Converters".

This unit covers emission control device diagnosis and service of Positive Crankcase Ventilation, Air Injection Systems, Evaporative Emission Control Systems, Exhaust Gas Re circulation Systems, Catalytic Converters, and other early fuel evaporation systems. This will also cover 5 gas emissions diagnoses and emission failures.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1. Visual inspection procedures to verify required emission components are present and properly installed
  2. Inspect, test, and service positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) filter/breather cap, valve, tubes, orifices, and hoses; perform necessary action.
  3.  Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system; determine necessary action.
  4. Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the secondary air injection and catalytic converter systems; determine necessary action.
  5. Diagnose emissions and driveability concerns caused by the evaporative emissions control system; determine necessary action.
  6. Inspect and test electrical/electronic sensors, controls, and wiring of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems; perform necessary action.
  7.  Inspect, test, service, and replace components of the EGR system including tubing, exhaust passages, vacuum/pressure controls, filters, and hoses; perform necessary action. (Vacuum drop testing)
  8. Inspect and test electrical/electronically-operated components and circuits of air injection systems; perform necessary action.
  9. Inspect and test catalytic converter efficiency. (eg. Cranking Cat Test)
  10. Inspect and test components and hoses of the evaporative emissions control system; perform necessary action. (Smoke test Evap system)
  11. Use Scan Tool bi-directional controls to test Evap, EGR and Air Injection


Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the student's ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams. 

Computerized Engine Controls Diagnosis and Repair

Unit Length (Hours): 30

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapters 71 "Computer Fundamentals", 72 "Temperature Sensors", 73 " Throttle Position Sensors", 74 "MAP/BARO Sensors", 75 "Mass Air Flow Sensors", 76 "Oxygen Sensors", 81 "Fuel Injection Diagnosis and Service"

This unit covers automotive computer control theory and sensor theory. Included is a detailed discussion of automotive computer design, computer control strategy, sensor construction and pinpoint testing. The unit stresses the importance of computer functionality in terms of Input, Processing, and Outputs. Lab scope functionality and buttonology used to perform pinpoint testing. Also covered is an advanced engine performance composite vehicle introduction. 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1. Inspect and test computerized engine control system sensors, powertrain/engine control module (PCM/ECM), actuators, and circuits using a graphing multi-meter (GMM)/digital storage oscilloscope (DSO); perform necessary action
  2. This will include sensor pinpoint testing of: TPS, MAP, CKP, CMP, O2, IAT, MAF, EGR position senesor,computer power and grounds and actuators. 

Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams.

Fuel Control and Onboard Diagnostics

Unit Length (Hours): 36

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapters 81 "Fuel Injection Diagnosis and Service" and 87 "On-Board Diagnosis".

This unit fuels management strategies, discussing how the on-board computer uses the various sensors to control fuel delivery and other outputs. The unit will includes a discussion of OBD I and OBD II  generations of the computer control, functionality, diagnostic, monitoring, and codes setting abilities. Also covered are emissions monitors and drive cycle importance. 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1. Inspect throttle body, air induction system, intake manifold and gaskets for vacuum leaks and/or unmetered air.; Verify idle control operation.
  2. Retrieve and record diagnostic trouble codes, OBD monitor status, and freeze frame data; clear codes for OBD I and OBD II vehicles when applicable
  3. Interpret diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and scan tool data and determine necessary action
  4. Inspect Fuel Management and Fuel Control systems; Interpreting and understanding the relationship between long term fuel trim, short term fuel trim, oxygen sensors/air fuel ratio sensors and injector pulse through lab task sheets. 
  5. Oxygen sensor and air fuel ration sensor tests for sensor signals and heater circuit diagnosis
  6. Propane enrichment tests for oxygen sensors to determine switch rate. 
  7. Idle air control diagnosis and service
  8. Inspect and test fuel pumps current and rpm. Determine necessary action
  9. Inspect and test fuel injectors signature. Determine necessary action.
  10. Inspect and test fuel injectors current at injectors and at common power supply. Determine necessary action.

Unit Assessment

The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams.

General Engine Diagnosis.

Unit Length (Hours):8

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapter 26 "Engine Condition Diagnosis"

This unit will focus on diagnosing engine mechanical problems and their effect on how then the engine runs.  This unit will cover symptoms that result from mechanical failures and advanced test procedures that are commonly used to verify engine mechanical failures. 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ASE Education Foundation 

Lecture covers various advanced test procedures. The lab requires students to perform the following tasks and explain results to the instructor: 

  1. Relative compression tests
  2. Mechanical analysis using pressure waveform 
  3. Camshaft and Crankshaft synchronization verification

Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams. 

Advanced ignition system diagnosis and repair

Unit Length (Hours): 8

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapter 70 "Ignition System Diagnosis and Service".

This unit covers advanced testing strategies for Distributorless ignition systems. This  includes using the DSO or GMM to perform pinpoint tests such as primary and secondary ignition circuit signatures and current ramping at the coil or remote locations at a fuse box. 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1. Scope test the primary ignition of a coil on plug ignition using an oscilloscope or GMM
  2. Scope test the secondary ignition using inductive probe adapters of the oscilloscope or GMM
  3. Current ramp the primary ignition of a single coil 
  4. Current ramp multiple coils through a common fuse or relay 

Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams.

Strategy Based Diagnosis

Unit Length (Hours): 12

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapter 88 "Scan Tools and Engine Performance Diagnosis".

This unit covers diagnostic strategies including troubleshooting fundamentals, TSBs and recalls, following flow charts, symptom based diagnostic strategies, and non-computer problems that cause drivability symptoms. The unit focuses on understanding the vocabulary in flow charts and the intent of any testing sequence. Determining and selecting relevant scan tool data and snap shots to provide direction in the diagnostic process is also covered, as is verifying the root cause of the failure. 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1.  Access and use service information to perform step-by-step (troubleshooting) diagnosis. 
  2. Describe the importance of running all OBDII monitors for repair verification. 
  3. Diagnose the causes of emissions or driveability concerns with stored or active diagnostic trouble codes; obtain, graph, interpret scan tool data and follow factory flow charts to determine the root cause of the failure. 
  4. Diagnose emissions or driveability concerns without stored diagnostic trouble codes; determine necessary action. 
  5.  Diagnose driveability and emissions problems resulting from malfunctions of interrelated systems (cruise control, security alarms, suspension controls, traction controls, A/C, automatic transmissions, non-OEM installed accessories, or similar systems); determine necessary action. 

Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams.

Gasoline Direct Injection and Advanced Technologies

Unit Length (Hours): 20

Unit Description (Lecture Topic):

Chapters 79 "Gasoline Direct Injection Systems", 80 "Electronic Throttle Controls", and 32 "Camshafts and Valve Train (VVT section)".

This unit covers a combination of advanced technologies that are being used in conjunction to support Gasoline Direct Injection. Electronic Throttle Controls and Variable Valve Timing theory, operation and diagnostic strategies. Gasoline Direct Injection theory, operation, and diagnostic strategies are also explained.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes/ ASE Education Foundation 

  1. Test and Inspect Electronic Throttle Control systems
  2. Test and Inspect Variable Valve Timing systems
  3. Test and Inspect Gasoline Direct Injection Systems
  4. Test and Inspect throttle body, air induction systems and perform relearn procedures and determine necessary action.
  5. Diagnose (troubleshoot) hot or cold no-starting, hard starting, poor driveability, incorrect idle speed, poor idle, flooding,hesitation, surging, engine misfire, power loss, stalling, poor mileage, dieseling, and emissions problems; determine necessary action

Unit Assessment

Students are expected to perform a lab task and answer questions from a lab sheet. The lab task is reviewed by the instructor and discussed with each student. A grade is assigned based on the students ability to complete the lab task and answer questions properly.  

Formative assessment tests are also performed, but usually will include multiple units. The formative assessment test will be a multiple choice test. I recommend the use of current ASE L1 composite vehicle booklet when proctoring exams.

Course Summative Assessment

L1 Advanced Engine Performance Assessment Exam using current Type 4 (or newer) composite vehicle booklet.

Lab Final Exam such as: Interpreting Scantool data on a "bugged vehicle"