12 Life Lessons Students Learn from an Automotive or Small Engine Class

12 Life Lessons Students Learn from an Automotive or Small Engine Class

Taking an automotive or small engine class in high school equips you with a variety of hard skills. Changing the oil, connecting parts with roll pins, and managing tire inflation with an air compressor are all tasks that are likely to come up in adult life.

What you might not realize is all the soft skills you learn in an automotive or small engine class. Working as a team, believing in yourself, and persevering through tough times prepares students for a variety of careers and life situations. Here are a few more great life lessons that students can learn in your automotive or small engine class.

1. Cooperating with Others

No vehicle or small engine machine can be built and maintained alone. It takes a team with each person using their particular strengths to achieve the desired outcome. The same holds true for class projects, team sports, and sharing a home.

2. Slowing Down

Working too quickly often causes mistakes. Changing transmission fluid in a Camaro is more difficult than other vehicles. If you hurry to put the parts all back together, you may have the filter turned the wrong way, blocking the linkage. If so, you’ll have to take it all apart again, fix the problem, and put it back together.

3. Effective Leadership

Fixing cars is an excellent skill, but it can also translate into solving real-world problems. Confronting challenges that seem impossible with tenacity and curiosity can be applied to computer programming, sales, and C-suite roles.

4. Trusting Yourself

Regardless of vocation, students will encounter challenges on a daily basis. Some may be easy to fix, while others are more complex and vague. Being able to solve these problems with a finite toolbox takes cleverness, out-of-the-box thinking, and sometimes brute force (toward the car). By dealing with these tough problems and finding solutions no matter what, students will develop confidence in themselves to set goals and trust that they have what it takes to never give up.

5. Staying Focused

It’s not uncommon for people to panic when things fall apart, however, remaining calm and focusing is the best way to move forward. Take a deep breath and focus on what you can do immediately to have the biggest impact, whether you’re running a major corporation or fixing a car in an auto shop. Focus on those priorities until satisfied, then repeat.

6. Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

Fixing a car requires you to understand how every part of the entire machine works together. The ability to consider the overall problem as well as each piece at a detailed level is a key skill for successful business leaders. They can keep big goals in mind while also seeing how each part of the company fits into this vision. It’s easy to rely on yourself and be independent but you’ll need others around you to succeed.


7. Being Patient and Persistent

Working on cars always takes longer than expected. Learning to stay level-headed and never give up can help a student through many of life’s difficulties, whether that’s in the classroom, on the job, or even at home.

8. The Power of Real Friends

It’s easy enough to have friends when you’re throwing a party. But when your car breaks down, who shows up? Those who stick with you through the bad times are the ones who deserve to be present for the good times.

9. Improvising

Life doesn’t always go according to plan, especially when fixing cars. Being creative and inventive can help you make the most of a situation that isn’t going your way. Cable ties and duct tape are to cars as ingenuity and perseverance are to life.

10. Respecting Others When You Disagree

Just as you may not like how another person has modified their car, you can still respect the hard work and thoughtfulness they put into it. Likewise, when students leave school and enter a world full of different opinions, they’ll need to know how to communicate and respect others, even when they disagree.

11. Validating Information Before Acting

Many random people on the internet may tell you to top off your headlight fluid or grease the brake pads, but as a professional, you know that’s not true. Learning to research multiple sources before acting on the information can save a lot of embarrassment, headaches, and arguments.

12. Organization and Cleanliness

Although their bedrooms, backpacks, and lockers may be a mess (and probably will be for awhile) in an automotive or small engine class, students learn to keep their toolbox organized so they can quickly find the parts and tools they need to complete a task. In the future, these skills will serve them well as they live and work with others.

From the Classroom to the Real World

Even when students are asking “When am I ever going to use this again?”, you know that the soft skills they’re learning will be valuable no matter what career path they take. Present the ideas above the next time you hear that question in your automotive or small engine classroom, and watch how students respond!