Engine Theory, Design and Diagnosis (College)

by Vic Posey

This is a first year, college course within the Transportation Pathway that offers the student advanced skills required for accurate diagnosis and repair of internal combustion engines. The theory and construction of gasoline and diesel engines found in automotive, agricultural and industrial applications will be covered. Demonstrated lecture, simulated problem diagnosis and practical application on "live" vehicles will be used. Students are encouraged, but not required, to supply their own project.
Preparation for the ASE A1, A8, H1, H2, S2, T1, T2, AERA Cylinder Head and Cylinder Block Specialist exams will be covered.This course is required for the local Engine Rebuilding Certificate of Completion and the Associates Degree in Automotive Technology.
This course should be preceded by a introductory course such as "Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair" that teaches the student fundamental concepts of the automobile.
Successful completion of this course will prepare the student for an entry level position in the Engine Rebuilding sector of the Transportation Industry.

Program Information
Course Certification Elements
Course Competencies / Outcomes
  • Students will learn the purpose and function of engine components and assemblies.
    • Chapter 1
  • Student will learn measuring systems with precision measuring tools.
    • Chapter 6
  • Students will learn how to use diagnostic test equipment for evaluating mechanical failures.
    • Chapter 3
  •  Student will learn safe working habits and procedures in a shop/lab environment.
    • Chapter 2
  • Students will demonstrate proper procedures to fill out a repair order and effectively communicate that information.
    • Chapter 3
  •  Students will have a clear understanding of accepted automotive repair ethics and accepted workplace ethics.
    • All Chapters
  •  Students will learn how to utilize book and computer based automotive information to find component locations, specifications and manufactures recommended repair procedures.
    • All Chapters 
  • Students will display knowledge of engine diagnosis procedures.
    • Chapter 5

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to

  1. Explain the operation of the internal combustion engine, including both four stroke and two stroke operations as well as spark ignited and compression ignited.
  2. Compare and contrast design characteristics of various internal combustion engines.
  3. Evaluate and assess the condition of an internal combustion engine using industry accepted diagnostic procedures.

Students exiting this class should move to Upper Engine Systems and Machining

Course Work Based Learning Activities

Students will perform various www.asealliance.org tasks in the lab relating to the topics covered in each chapter. Such tasks include;

  • Accurately identify a vehicle and engine using industry accepted resources
  • Determine the condition of a running engine by performing
    • Vacuum tests
    • Power balance tests
    • Compression tests
    • Cylinder leak down tests
  • Disassemble a complete engine making note of and recording various findings
  • Clean the various engine parts using industry accepted processes.
  • Use precision measuring tools to inspect the various engine components to determine corrective action and required replacement parts.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in an internship program that will allow the them to apply the skills attained in class in a live workplace environment while working with professionals in our industry.

Course Materials

Suggested Book: Automotive Engines - Diagnosis, Repair and Rebuilding 7th Edition, Tim Gilles, Delmar Cengage Learning.

Tools and Equipment:   Basic hand tools, torque wrenches, engine stands, engines, compression gauges, vacuum gauges, leak down testers, timing lights, micrometers, calipers, telescoping gauges, feeler gauge, straight edge, air compressor and engine hoist.

Course Units (1 semester course)

Engine Shop Safety

Unit Length (Hours): 7 hours

Unit Description: 

Chapter 2 "Engine Shop Safety"

Subjects covered in this unit include: Shop Health and Safety, Cleanliness, Fire Prevention, Tool and Equipment Safety, Lifting Equipment, and Hazardous Materials.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes - 

Students will learn safe working habits and procedures in a shop/lab environment.

Unit Assessment - 

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 2, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions and online safety modules from www.sp2.org

Engine Construction and Operation

Unit Length (Hours)22 hours

Unit Description:

Chapter 1 "Engine Construction and Operation"

In this unit, students are introduced to Two and Four Stroke Theory, Engine Classification, Engine Design, Firing Order, Cooling, Spark and Compression Ignition.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will perform associated www.asealliance.org tasks relating to engine repair 

Unit Assessment

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 1, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions.

Diagnosing Engine Problems

Unit Length (Hours): 22 hours

Unit Description:

Chapter 3 "Diagnosing Engine Problems"

This unit covers the topics of: Oil Consumption and Leaks, Fuel Mixture Issues, Compression Loss, Engine Noises, Lubricating Problems, Cooling Problems and Electrical Problems.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes:

Students will perform associated www.asealliance.org tasks relating to diagnosing engine problems

Unit Assessment:

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 3, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions and lab tasks enforcing the principals from chapter 3.

Engine Disassembly and Inspection

Unit Length (Hours): 22 hours

Unit Description:

Chapter 4 "Engine Disassembly and Inspection"

Engine Removal and Disassembly, Engine Identification, Service Information

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will perform associated www.asealliance.org tasks relating to engine disassembly and inspection

Unit Assessment

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 4, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions and lab tasks enforcing the principals from chapter 4.

Cleaning the Engine

Unit Length (Hours): 13 hours

Unit Description:

Chapter 5 "Cleaning the Engine"

Cleaning Procedures, Cleaning Equipment, Cleaning Chemicals 

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will perform associated www.asealliance.org tasks relating to engine cleaning and inspection

Unit Assessment

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 5, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions and lab tasks enforcing the principles from chapter 5.


Measuring System and Devices

Unit Length (Hours): 22 hours

Unit Description:

Chapter 6 "Measuring Devices and Systems"

Units of Measurement, Measuring Tools, Measuring Procedure

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will perform associated www.asealliance.org tasks relating to engine measurement and inspection

Unit Assessment

Homework assignment from the end of chapter 6, Face-to-face written exam using ASE style questions and lab tasks enforcing the principals from chapter 6.

Course Summative Assessment

Classroom Summative Exam should closely resemble the ASE certification Exam for Engine Repair A1. 

Lab Summative Exam should include engine part identification, measurement and inspection.