Car trouble? Hudson Valley can help!

Hunter Wallace
News Editor

PHOTO BY ZOE DENO

Students complete lab hours by working on cars both from campus facilities or brought in by others.

Is your vehicle in need of repair, but cost poses an issue? Hudson Valley’s senior automotive labs may just be the answer for you.

The automotive labs are two “live classrooms” where second-year, matriculated automotive students work on “real world” cars. One lab operates in the morning, while the other runs in the afternoon, respectively, said George Raneri, assistant professor of the college’s Automotive, Manufacturing and Electrical Engineering Technologies program.

“These cars are mainly provided by employees and students who understand and are willing to allow their vehicles to be worked on by students who are in the process of learning — much in the same way the dental hygiene department runs their clinic,” Raneri said.

Any campus faculty, staff or current student can apply for this service. The process involves receiving emails containing available appointments from the labs at the start of each semester and selecting a time from the lab’s webpage.

Afterward, professor Raneri or professor Howarth reviews appointments to determine whether it will benefit students of the program.

If approved, individuals receive an email detailing the “next steps,” followed by a phone call from students in the lab’s appointment office to setup a specific day to come in, which can be anytime Tuesday through Thursday from either 8 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 4:50 p.m., respectively.

Finally, individuals must pay a one-time $15 labor fee — a fraction of what a dealership or other shop may charge — before their vehicles are repaired by students overseen by Automotive Service Excellence-certified Master Technicians, Reneri explained.

“The greatest benefit for those looking to have work done by our students is the one-time “labor” fee of $15 — as compared to $100 [or more] at a dealership or other shop,” Raneri stated. “Apart from this, the customer is only responsible for buying the necessary parts and supplies necessary to repair the vehicle. We often save our customers several hundred dollars in labor costs.”

Raneri shared how, in addition to those who opt to send their vehicles to the labs for work, students enrolled in the automotive program also benefit.

“Students in the [automotive] program benefit by having the opportunity to work on cars that are driven daily in the real world, experiencing real world issues such as check engine lights, tire imbalances, noisy exhausts, steering that pulls and brakes that squeal,” he explained. “There is nothing better than the great Northeast winters and Troy’s infamous streets to wreak havoc on a car!”

There are certain limitations to utilizing the automotive lab for repairs. For example, the lab does not work on Mercedes and BMW vehicles anymore because of the large amount of special tools and equipment required to purchase to complete the work and the fact the lab cannot access the service information necessary to properly do the job.

Flyers, emails and notices are sent to College Forum professors every semester, yet many are unaware of the automotive labs’ existence. However, the lab services about 300 vehicles each semester, depending on the number of students enrolled in the program, and it will continue to operate as economics allow.

Raneri gave advice to those interested in utilizing this repair service.

“First, to utilize the lab, you need to be very comfortable with the thought of students — who are in the process of learning — working on your vehicle,” he said. “The lab is, in reality, a lab, not a registered New York state repair facility. Because these are students learning, things don’t always go according to plan or get completed as quickly as customers would like, and people who are considering using this service need to be aware of this.”

Raneri continued, “However, for most people who have allowed the lab to work on their vehicles, the savings often outweigh the risk, as we have often kept people from spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on maintenance and repairs. It is easily one of Hudson Valley’s best kept secrets and an aspect of the automotive program that sets us apart from every other automotive school in the region.”

To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit http://www.hvcc.edu/departments/eit/ame/auto-lab.html.

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