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Episode 21 – Auto Tech, Dummy Lights and El Caminos

Welcome to Throwin’ Wrenches, the automotive podcast that gets the best guests!

Okay, so we’re trying that catchphrase on for size. Don’t worry, we’ll probably change it in the next episode. Meanwhile, we’ve got a terrific episode for you this week with special guest, Todd Fortier, Program Chair of Automotive Technology at Illinois Central College.


By now, you’re probably familiar with Mr. Gabriel Casey after his world-famous debut on Episode 20. If not, we’d recommend listening to it right after you visit the Casey Law Office

website at https://www.clopeoria.com/ to learn more about his legal services. We appreciate the support of the Casey Law Office for helping to make this program possible

We’d also like to thank Fort’s Toyota of Pekin for their continued support. To learn more about the variety of new and pre-owned vehicles available (and service, too!), visit www.toyota-pekin.com

We’re also a proud member of Peoria Podcast Alliance https://peoriapodcasts.com/.

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BMW Invests in Tech Training Center for EV expansion

Source: Automotive News

BMW i8
Photo Credit: Kev Haworth Photography

With the rise of EV’s popularity, BMW is pushing for more EV-specific training and putting their money where their mouth is. BMW aims to have 25 EV models on the road by 2023, or several years earlier than previously announced. Since more techs will be needed, BMW is investing some $56 million in training centers in Atlanta, California, and New York. We think this is a great investment in the company’s future, as well as future automotive service techs. Education is always important.

Customer Demand for Safety Technology Threatened by Overbearing Alerts

Source: J.D. Power
Automakers are spending lots of money on advanced technology development, but the constant alerts can confuse and frustrate drivers,” said Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power. “The technology can’t come across as a nagging parent; no one wants to be constantly told they aren’t driving correctly.

Will humans learn their lesson about these on-board electronic safety systems sooner rather than later? Or will we simply disable these systems and learn the hard way?

BTW: It was people that ruined talking cars for us in the 1980’s.

About Our Guest

Todd Fortier
Program Chair of Automotive Technology
Illinois Central College

Todd Fortier at ICC
Todd Fortier in action.
(Photo courtesy of ICC Automotive Facebook Page)

Todd Fortier runs the Automotive Technology program at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Illinois. He’s charged with leading the next generation of automotive technicians down the vocational education path to a successful career. In an era where the technology behind the wheel (and under the hood) is rapidly evolving, Todd brings a mix of historical reference and modern diagnostic know-how to the classroom. But as Todd himself states, he doesn’t teach… he presents information. What the students choose to do with it after that point, is up to them. Todd mentors. He guides. He coaches. He’s also a big fan of the Chevy El Camino, which we think is totally cool.

Let’s get to know Todd a little bit more.

Talking Tech With Todd Fortier

Engines ready for fall classes at Illinois Central College’s Automotive Tech shop.

How long have you been teaching automotive technology?

(I’ve been) teaching for 22 years. ICC for 20.

Did you come to ICC for this position?

Yes and No. I came in under CATTK program and slid into Automotive Tech. I started teaching, in general by accident. The department evolved in GM-ASEP (Automotive Service Education Program and General Automotive

Is there a new urgency to Vocational Tech today with folks like Mike Rowe and others pushing these career paths?

No, nothing new here, other than who’s getting the spotlight. When I was a student in 1991 we had a shortage of 5000 techs and has grown. Industry perspective has changed.

Let’s talk electric vehicles. What training programs do those manufacturers have?

Rivian and Tesla both have similar training philosophies. They want an Associate of Applied Science first then they take the best.

In the year 2030, several automakers have committed to phasing out gasoline-powered cars and making the shift to 100% electric vehicles. Thoughts?

In the year 2030, (I hope) I am camping a lot more and working a lot less! The industry has a lot more useful gadgets making the drivers a lot more worthless, but ultimately safer. We have to maintain these systems so they control the car because the loose nut behind the wheel won’t stop texting. I want my CCC carburetors and HEI distributors back. Unfortunately, they are gone for good… along with my mullet.

Were you always a car guy?

I am a renaissance man, that’s a fancy way to say we were poor so we fixed things when they were broken. My dad said ”It doesn’t get worse then broke.” Which I learned isn’t the case. So my career was born out of need rather than passion and the passion grew from that. Now the passion is to “present material”. I don’t teach.

Do you wrench at home?

Only when teen driver makes it impossible to take into the shop here.

So you use the college resources and have your car worked on by students?

I do, in fact, have the students work on my vehicle. If I am going to have them working on faculty and staff vehicles, I have to put my trust in them.

Why ICC?

Value, “The smart choice”, administrative and board support. There’s a commitment to (training students to earn) a family-sustaining wage.

Other schools talk about how great their automotive tech program is.

Other schools don’t have me. Cost versus trade school. Educational guarantee

What was the tech school that famously collapsed? ITT?


What happened to those students who could not finish?

I did not see any of them. It’s hard with trade schools working on quarters or tri-semesters don’t equate to credit hours. The Higher Learning Commision and Community College Board along with Automotive Service Excellence all have their eyes on our curriculum. That’s what you get with a degree program.

One of three Hunter Engineering alignment racks used by ICC students in Todd’s shop.

What is the future of college? Are the 4 year colleges changing to accommodate?

We have capstone with SIU, Pitt State, Ferris State.

Will schools like ICC see more growth?

There is a commitment from every single person involved to grow Automotive Education at ICC. The industry need supports trade schools. I don’t find the $60,000 price tag appealing but they have the full time recruiters holding Johnny’s hand right to the loan office.

Is the stigma gone from vocational training?

Not completely but people are starting to “get it.” You have to have placement, and or SAT scores to get into all of our Auto and Diesel programs.

This is no longer the area where we send the kids who are “hard to educate”?

I will take number one in the class down to the last person in the class. This is hands-on and theory. We take the bored kids and they get straight A’s

Are you seeing a demographic change in the students?

Our most successful demographic the underemployed 20-something getting a new skill. We have a small percentage of traditional students. It took me two years of ISU accounting before I found the greatest industry in the world.

Listen to the full interview with Todd in this episode.

Learn More

ICC Automotive Tech website

ICC Automotive Tech on Facebook

Moment of Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is going to Shanghai later this week, and he is now rumored to unveil the first China-made Tesla Model 3 at an event on Thursday.
On Thursday, Musk is set to kick off the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai with a fireside chat with Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma.
Musk confirmed that he also plans to launch a Chinese division of his Boring Company during the trip.
Both of those things don’t have much to do with Tesla, but Shanghai is also where Tesla is currently building Gigafactory 3, the automaker’s first Chinese factory.
Now local media reports are suggesting that Musk also plans to unveil the first China-made Tesla Model 3 at the WAIC.

Cars of the Week


1986 Subaru Brat 4 Speed

Yes, this is the one with the sweet rear jump seats!
This AWD wagon-turned-almost-truck sold for $22,000! So worth it, though.

BaT Auction Link


2014 Audi A8L TDI

With all of the TDI talk lately on our show, I’ve been hankering for a diesel German car. Instead of aiming low, maybe I should reach for the moon. My good friend Ben, also a friend of the podcast, says that Audi’s flagship A8L sedans are the best value of all the TDI ‘buyback’ cars. These retailed for $75-90K new, and were available with the same 3.0 TDI V6 that came in the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 SUV’s. Today, these sleek sedans can be had for $25-30K with under 100K miles, which for a diesel isn’t much. You could live like a king for a ¼ of the cost, if you’re willing to cross your fingers and avoid big dealer repair bills.

Sale Listing on Car Gurus


1985 Chevrolet El Camino V8 $12,00

This is the one that got away.

Auto Trader Link

Thanks again to our sponsors for making this program possible.

Casey Law Office Peoria

Fort’s Toyota of Pekin

Catch you next time, and have a safe Labor Day weekend!



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