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Top 10 Automotive Colleges in the USA

Image: doeatvc

If you want to build a technical career in the automotive industry, picking the right automotive college or university to study mechanical engineering is the first step. The best degree programs don’t just teach you the technical skills you need to enter the industry, but give you the chance to build your business knowledge, take part in extra-curricular competitions and get relevant work experience.

As well as internships, some colleges offer co-op programs, where you rotate a term of college with a term doing fully-paid work.

These are 10 of the best schools for engineering programs.

Kettering University – Flint, MI

This STEM specialist college has to be a serious contender for anyone considering a career as an automotive engineer.

Their bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering stands out for:

  • Concentration in Mechanical Engineering
  • Consistently rated number 1 among non-PhD granting universities by U.S. News & World Report
  • 5 co-op terms, with placements at some of the biggest car manufacturers: Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Honda, Trelleborg Automotive

They also provide a focused Masters of Science in Automotive Engineering, including electives in fuel cell science, occupant safety and financial management.

Clemson University – Clemson, SC

Becoming a Clemson “Tiger” can get your career off to a roaring start, as it has strong mechanical engineering programs with an emphasis on creativity, innovation and business skills at all levels.

The school is rated number 21 among all public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Mechanical Engineering majors who want to specialize in the auto sector should get involved in the high performing Formula and Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition teams.

Their specialist automotive department offers Masters of Science and PhDs:

  • Technical electives include specialisms in vehicle manufacturing and materials, vehicle performance, powertrains and drivelines, and electronics
  • Business courses are compulsory, with the aim to prepare graduates to take on high-level managerial roles in top companies

 

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

This school builds on a 140-year history of mechanical engineering teaching and research. Mechanical engineering students benefit from opportunities to:

  • Take courses in cutting edge emerging areas like energy and environment and biomechanics
  • Get involved in the Solar Car and Formula SAE racing teams
  • Choose from a variety of internship and co-ops
  • Take part in summer research programs

 

Michigan Technical University – Houghton, MI

The Mitten State continues its domination of this list with Michigan Tech’s outstanding Engineering department, which has ranked in the top 13 nationwide for the last 29 years.

Mechanical Engineering undergraduates are drawn here by:

  • Industry funded capstone projects during senior year
  • Teams in Clean Snowmobile, Baja, Formula SAE and EcoCAR competitions
  • Specialist advanced automotive engine laboratory
  • Ability to top-up to Masters level with only one year’s extra study

 

Purdue University Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IA

Purdue’s College of Engineering is one of the largest in the country with an interdisciplinary ethos, which gives its students the chance to pursue a broad course of study. The college is ranked in the top 15 nationally by U.S News & World Report at graduate and undergraduate levels.

Some of the biggest plus points for Mechanical Engineering majors are:

  • Solar Car, Formula SAE racing and EcoCAR teams
  • Two large satellite research labs
  • Internships and co-ops with companies such as Honda

 

Texas A & M University – College Station, TX

Currently rated 10th by U.S News & World Report for its Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s degree, TAMU’s Dwight Look College of Engineering is the biggest on-campus department.

In 2010, TAMU graduates came second in a The Wall Street Journal poll which asked major companies, non-profits and government bodies to rate colleges according whose alumni were considered best prepared and most able to succeed in the working world.

Mechanical Engineering majors also have opportunities to:

  • Join the Formula SAE racing team
  • Minor in business
  • Take a fast track program to get a BS and MS in just 5 years

 

University of California, Davis – Davis, CA

This school’s engineering program is known for its strong practical focus, with opportunities to develop cutting-edge projects.

UC Davisprovides their mechanical engineering students with:

  • Student start-up center for budding entrepreneurs
  • Design clinic where students can advise on real-world industry projects
  • Ability to focus studies on automotive-industry relevant fields

 

Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, GA

Top Automotive Engineering Colleges - Georgia TechGeorgia Tech’s new interdisciplinary ME program

In 2012, Georgia Tech’s George W Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering overhauled its curriculum to offer exceptional flexibility. Students can now choose to take a multidisciplinary path or concentrate in one specialized area. This program is now ranked 3rd nationally by U.S News & World Report.

Mechanical Engineering majors can take part in:

  • Formula SAE, Baja, Solar Car, HyTech and Wreck Racing teams
  • Undergraduate research programs
  • Co-op scheme, ranked 10th in the country

 

California Tech – Pasadena, CA

Cal Tech is another college with an interdisciplinary focus, developed in response to new technical developments within Mechanical Engineering. The college is ranked at the world’s top university by Times Higher Education.

Michigan State – East Lansing, MI

Spartans who choose to major in Mechanical Engineering experience a curriculum with a strong focus on design-build-test projects. This includes:

  • 4 intensive design courses
  • Industry sponsored capstone course
  • Optional humanitarian projects
  • Baja, Formula SAE and Solar Car racing teams

Which program features do you think are most important for prospective automotive engineers?

Which cars do you love to hate?

Smart Car ItalyIf you’re a car enthusiast, loving to hate some cars or their features is a guilty pleasure. We asked some Reddit users which cars press their buttons and why. We got some strong responses – these are some of the best!

Automatic Notifications

Audi TT Cockpit
Image – Robert Basic

Sometimes newer cars with sophisticated automated notification systems can be a bit too clever, according to marv2: “I’ve left my keys in the ignition? Cool thanks. Headlights on? Thanks again. There’s a bag on the passenger seat not wearing its seatbelt, BONG!

Newer Audis have this new feature, driving along on a hot day with the aircon going, BONG! A little message pops up in the binnacle display ‘Using aircon will increase fuel consumption, to save fuel turn the aircon off.’ If I haven’t crashed yet, I turn the aircon off and open a window a crack. BONG! A new message in the binnacle: ‘Driving with the windows open will increase fuel consumption, to save fuel, close the windows.'”

Big Little Cars

Mini Countryman
Image – Bernard Goldback


Reddit user Only Standard takes exception to the new larger versions of classic small city cars: “The new big Mini, the big Fiat 500. It’s like the owners said to themselves, ‘I like the Mini, except for the one thing that makes the car unique.’”

Ford vs Chevy

76 Chevrolet Malibu Coupe

Image – dave_7

Brand rivalry sustains a satisfying love to hate for timberwolvesguy: “Chevy in general. Not GM, just Chevy. I’ve always had a hate for them that’s fueled by my love for Ford. The reason I love to hate them and don’t just hate them is that I always find something wrong with every Chevy I drive. The gauges never work as a whole on old Suburbans, Astros, Silverados, or Trailblazers. The Traverse is horribly underpowered and the EcoTec engine used in most of their cars is a joke.
“The only Chevys I can’t hate are the Malibu and Chevelle. I’ve driven multiple Malibus and they really are nice cars. I’ve driven the Corvette and like it, but you really don’t have a whole lot of visibility in the mid-2000s models and the seats are a little too low for my liking.

“I love to hate them because of the Ford/Chevy rivalry. While there are some Fords I don’t agree with (Aspire, Aerostar, and early 2000s Taurus), I’m in love with the majority of Fords throughout history.

“I’ll finish on a positive note though. If there were ever a North America vs Europe vs Asia challenge to see which continent makes the best cars, I’d be on Team Chevy in a heartbeat.”

Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper Dashboard

Image – The Car Spy

While lots of people love the new Mini Cooper’s rally-inspired design it doesn’t convince Kozi47. “Speedometer is in the center console like a big grandfather clock.”

Corvettes

Chevrolet C5 Corvette

Image – Kate Skegg

If you want to create some controversy, hate on C5 and C6 Corvettes, like kmets4: “They’re pretty common in my area and everyone gets excited like it’s a Ferrari every time they see one. I find them ugly and they lack refinement.”
The Corvette fan base got involved, highlighting their good points. Reddit user Abomination said: “I strongly prefer the well designed, smooth lines and pop-up headlights of the C5.”

Smart Cars

Smart Car Italy

Image – Hsing Wei

Sometimes it’s all about the context, as Mixmastamik points out: “Smart cars look awesome going around Florence and Rome, but every time I see one in the States, I wanna grab 4 of my friends and move it somewhere else.”

Mvduin agreed: “It seems to me we just don’t have any cities that really call for them in the States. I’d totally have one (or another micro car, though I’d probably go Fiat 500) if I lived in one of the ‘these streets were made for horses’ cities in Europe.”

Overly Modded Audis

Audi near Canyon

Image – Josh Sniffen

For some users it’s not the car they hate, but what some drivers do to them. Kenbrellfan loves Audis but not modified ones: “I absolutely love their minimalist German styling, but I hate that they’ve recently become the cool car to have for young males. Every 16-23 year old male has an Audi dropped on $100 springs, with stickers on the back window and ugly rims.”

Another purist, chiralcompound, agrees: “The only visual mods that are acceptable are subtle ones. Stickers and the like are an extremely tacky addition to what is an otherwise aesthetically perfect machine.”

If you want to read more, you can find the original Reddit thread here (please note that it contains some profanities).

Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Leave your view or suggest another car you love to hate in the comments!

What do you miss about your first car?

Getting your first car is a moment you don’t forget: your dreams have come true and suddenly you’re holding the keys to freedom.

No matter what other cars you go on to drive, for most of us our first car will always occupy a special place in our hearts. There’s always going to be something irreplaceable about it.

Read on to find out just what it is that people miss about their first cars, from the generosity of a family member to custom paint jobs.

Subaru BRAT

1985 Brat

Image: Wiki Commons

One of our favorite first car stories comes from Jim Sewell, whose dad bought him an ‘85 Subaru BRAT.

“My dad bought the car and sold it to me on the afternoon of my 16th birthday in 1988. He surprised me by selling it to me for the one dollar bill I had in my pocket, as money has to be
exchanged during a bill of sale. I have to say that was a great and memorable birthday.”

Jim misses the BRAT’s distinctive welded-in rear-facing seats.

Volkswagen Beetle

Customized VW Beetle

Image: Shannon Sneed via CARFAX Facebook

It’s one of the world’s most iconic cars, and Shannon Sneed was lucky enough to get this unique Volkswagen ’76 Bug from his dad.

“I’ll always cherish the memories; hard work and good times that were made while restoring it. I’ll always miss the custom paint job we did ourselves and the simplicity of the motor,” he says. These are the best kind of teenage memories to create with your car!

Nissan Maxima

90 Nissan Maxima

Image: WikiCommons

Jeffrey Green made some classic high school memories when he was a junior by winning the high school drags at 13.5 seconds in the ¼ mile in his 1990 Nissan Maxima. “Man I miss that car!”

Dodge Daytona

89 Dodge Daytona

Photo credit: Jared Jackowitz via CARFAX Facebook Page

This sleek ’89 Dodge Daytona was Jared Jackowitz’s first car, and he loves it so much he still owns it. There are plenty of reasons that he’s not tempted to part with it: “It still has the original paint and mostly everything is still stock. This thing flies. T-tops don’t leak either.”

Plymouth Satellite

68 Plymouth Satellite

Image: Greg Gjerdingen

It’s not just dads giving beloved cars to sons either. Kelly Bradway’s grandmother passed on her ’68 Plymouth Satellite.

“I put a dual exhaust with glass packs, painted in forest green and jacked up the rear. No one had a car like mine. It sound and looked great.”

Chevrolet Camaro

First cars don’t come much more desirable than the Chevrolet Camaro, particularly if you’re a serious petrol head. Reddit user PlehhBlooper misses his fourth generation ’00 Camaro, its LS engine and those long days when “I could work on it and mod it all day long”.

Pontiac Grand Prix

It was a nineties classic and Reddit user kabaded found that going for a sedan doesn’t mean missing out on a powerful driving experience.

“I miss the torque that my 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix Turbo had. It was actually difficult not to chirp the tires every time you accelerated.”

Honda Civic

93 Honda Civic

Image: Hector Alejandro

“My first car was a ’93 Honda Civic Si with a B18C1. I miss it for its raw feel and great handling. Also, the looks. 5th gen hatches look great, especially lowered,” says LocoTSX. No wonder Honda Civics are consistently popular as a first car.

Mitsubishi Mirage

97-99 Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan

Image: WikiCommons

First cars often need to be tough and that’s exactly what ghrelly misses about his ‘97 Mitsubishi Mirage: “Thing was bulletproof. 250k miles, no drivetrain issues.”

Ford Taurus

It’s not always the car itself that drivers miss. The sound system was Reddit user’s ShifitingLanes favorite part of his ’98 Ford Taurus, which “worked great and sounded amazing.” Who doesn’t miss having teenage levels of disposable income to drop on sound systems too?

Honda Element

Honda Element

Image: P J Johnson

Getting your first set of wheels opens up precious opportunities to socialize away from the eyes of parents. Redditer Code-sloth misses their Honda Element as its “little tailgate was so handy and cool for cookouts”.

You can check out the full threads we sourced our stories from on the CARFAX Facebook page and Reddit.

If you’re looking at buying your child their first car, check out our post on how to split costs and our Used Car Buying Guide.

 

What was your first car, and what do you miss about it? Leave us a comment below!

 

Should you pay for your teen’s first car?

It seems like only yesterday that your son or daughter was taking his or her first steps and now is ready to drive. A certain trepidation is likely to be mixed in with your pride in your child’s increasing independence.

Image: Lars Plougman

While your teenager is eagerly anticipating getting her first car, you have totted up the costs involved and realized that this could add thousands of dollars a year to family expenses. A big chunk of those extra costs come from the fact that teen drivers tend to have more accidents, and are so more expensive to insure; another worrying factor.

Most teenagers aren’t going to be able to cover costs by themselves, so how should you handle getting your teenager’s first car, and how much should you contribute?

Do they need a car?

Just because your child has passed driver’s ed and got his license, or even if all his friends have a car, that doesn’t automatically mean he needs a car at 16.

Look at your family’s circumstances before you commit to adding another car to the household. If you live in an urban area it might be cheaper for your child to continue using public transport, or if your children need a car only occasionally, insuring them to drive a family car might be a better option.

Ask teens to contribute a certain amount to the ongoing costs of maintaining a car, as this will make them appreciate the financial trade offs, since they may have to sacrifice other spending. This in itself can be a useful lesson in managing money.

Choosing a car

Your teen might dream of an SUV or convertible, but the safest cars for new drivers are mid-size sedans with at least six airbags, a four cylinder engine and a high safety rating.

This is where contributing a chunk of the down payment comes in useful, as it gives you considerable clout when it comes to making sure that your child has a car that’s safe and appropriate.

It might be tempting to surprise teens with a car and see the delighted reaction, but getting them involved in the process gives them a chance to learn how to buy a car and what scams to look out for, setting good car shopping habits early on.

Plan in advance and ask your child to save money from summer jobs and gift money towards the cost of the car, perhaps offering to match them dollar for dollar. If they’ve saved their own hard-earned cash and decided they want a car more than the latest pair of sneakers, they’re likely to take good care of that car.

Insurance

For teenage drivers insurance is easily the highest expense behind running a car. If your teen is still at high school, he or she is probably not going to be able to cover the premiums themselves.

Get your child to contribute to a portion of your increased insurance premium, even if it’s as little as 10 or 20%. Contributing helps teens understand the responsibilities that come with owning a vehicle and gets them used to the real cost of running a car.

As they’ll end up paying more if they are involved in an accident, this rewards responsible driving too.

On the plus side, getting car insurance might encourage your teen to keep her grades up. Many insurance companies offer discounts to students with a B grade average or higher, presumably on the basis that these students are likely to be as responsible on the road as they are at school.

If insurance is prohibitive, consider delaying purchasing a car as rates decline rapidly for drivers between 17 and 19. That extra year or two could give your child the chance to save more money towards their car too.

Image: Dana

Maintenance

Skimping on maintenance is a false economy, so you want to ensure that you agree on who is covering this. Teaching teenagers how to do the basics themselves saves money while giving them useful life skills.

Repairs

Before your child hits the road in their car, decide on who pays for repairs. Say that you’ll cover a percentage of standard repairs but that your child will have to foot the whole bill if he or she is at fault to create a strong incentive for responsible driving.

If your teen’s income is sufficient, ask your teen to set aside a certain amount of money for automotive ‘rainy days,’ to enable dipping into this fund when necessary. It might seem tough, but it’s better to learn to plan for these expenses at age 16 than in your twenties.

Tickets

It’s a no-brainer that if your teen gets a ticket, he or she should cover it themselves. As with at-fault accidents, even if you have to meet the initial expense and get them to pay you back, it’s vital that they learn that dangerous or irresponsible driving has consequences.

You might also decide to reward positive driving behavior, for example, allowing them more freedom after a year without tickets or accidents.

Our final thoughts? While you don’t want your child working so many hours to afford their car costs that they compromise school work and extra-curricular activities, having a bit of skin in the game creates a valuable stepping stone to adulthood and encourages responsibility.

What have your own experiences been like? We welcome your comments!

CARFAX Makes Car Shopping a Breeze

How we shop for used cars online has remained the same for years, no matter what used car listing website you tried. Typically, you plug in a make/model to get a list of every one of those cars for sale within a set area. The next step is the one that can be time consuming for car shoppers: finding the answers about a given vehicle’s history often involves a lot of clicking, searching, and backtracking through the list.

In contrast, the new CARFAX Used Car Listings makes finding the right car with the history that’s right for you fast and easy. It’s a breeze. Only Carfax lets you search for your dream car by starting with CARFAX history. You can drive your search by what is important to you:

  • No Accidents Reported to CARFAX
  • Service Records
  • CARFAX 1-Owner, and more.

You just have to enter your zip code and can pre-select the CARFAX vehicle history attributes you want the cars to have:

Click the ‘Show Me Now’ button and up comes a list of vehicles that exactly match your search criteria, both the kind of car you want and the vehicle history you chose. The cars that closely match your criteria are listed below the exact matches. Every car comes with a free CARFAX Vehicle History Report so you’ll know everything that was reported to CARFAX.

There are no annoying banner ads, pop-ups or other distractions. You’re saving tons of time already!

From here, you can quickly sort and narrow the results by price range, color, trim, distance and more. If you’re looking for a used car that comes with some new car benefits, opt to see only Certified Pre-Owned cars. If you want a car that’s been well-maintained, look for the “regular oil changes” badge. Or, check “compare” to see multiple cars side-by-side to help make your decision. It’s that simple…

On the details page for each car, you’ll find easy ways to contact the selling dealer. You can even click through to the car on the dealer’s website if you want. There are typically lots of photos, a description of the car and a snapshot of important CARFAX information for it. Plus, you can click to see all the information reported to CARFAX in the free CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Just click on the big green button.

CARFAX has made it easy, fast, and satisfying to search for a car from your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. CARFAX president Dick Raines sums it up best: “Millions of online shoppers today click on readily available CARFAX Reports to see if the cars they want have a history that meets their needs. Now, consumers can know right away by choosing which history details are most important to them at the beginning of their search. CARFAX puts the right cars with the right history right in front of you.”

Read more about CARFAX Used Car Listings in the press release announcement of the launch.

 

Are you affected by the GM recall?

General Motors recently announced a safety recall for 2.6 million cars due to a faulty ignition switch. The problem seems to happen when there is too much weight on a key ring, or when taking a bumpy road too hard – moving the key out of place in the ignition. This can turn off the engine unexpectedly. GM will reach out to affected customers once replacement parts are available so that the car owner can schedule an appointment to have their vehicle repaired. The service will be performed at no charge at a GM authorized dealership.

GM cars recalled due to ignition switch
"Keys" by Mike Chaput

Which GM cars are affected?

The cars affected by the recall are:

What do I do if my car is affected?

If you receive an official letter from GM recalling your vehicle, contact an authorized GM dealer (see link above) in your area for an appointment to have it fixed.

More about recalls

Auto recalls are fairly common and help maintain the performance, safety and resale value of the affected vehicles. However, recent studies suggest that a significant number of recalled cars every year don’t get fixed. CARFAX works with the auto manufacturers to help people easily find out if a specific car is under recall so they can be fixed.

To see if an open (unfixed) recall was reported for your car, use the free CARFAX Recall Check – all you need is the 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN). You also can visit the manufacturer’s website to check for recalls.