Author & Automotive Expert James D. Halderman



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Halderman newsletterAugust 2013
During this year's NACAT held in Qu├ębec City, I was honored by my peers and it was one of the highlights of my career.

I am absolutely honored to have been chosen educator MVP at NACAT 2013! For the first time ever, I was speechless.


Using smart phones in the classroom?

One of the biggest changes I have seen in the last year is that some schools are now asking students to bring their smart phone to class so it can be used as part of the information and educational process. It was a short time ago that all I heard was that phones in the classroom were a bad idea. Why is this happening? I think the fact that smart phones are so popular and they are so powerful that some school systems are thinking that they can be used instead of having the school purchase additional computers. I think the use of these devices need to be monitored and controlled but their use, to me, seems like a logical move to improve learning using a device that students love.


Scan tool on a smart phone

One of the ways that a smart phone can be used in 

the classroom and beyond is using the smart phone to access the vehicle through the DLC using a Bluetooth adapter. One that I purchased, (ELM 327) costs about $10 for the Bluetooth adapter and then $4.99 for the iPhone app (Engine Link). Therefore for less than $20, I now have a working global (generic) scan tool that fits in my pocket. The functions of this tool include:


1. Read diagnostic trouble codes, both generic and manufacturer-specific, and display their meaning (over 3000 generic code definitions in the database).

 2. Clear trouble codes and turn off the MIL ("Check Engine" light)

 3. Display current sensor data, including:

 4. Engine RPM

 5. Calculated Load Value

 6. Coolant Temperature

 7. Fuel System Status

 8. Vehicle Speed

 9. Short Term Fuel Trim

 10. Long Term Fuel Trim

 11. Intake Manifold Pressure

 12. Timing Advance

 13. Intake Air Temperature

 14. Air Flow Rate

 15. Absolute Throttle Position

 16. Oxygen sensor voltages/associated short term fuel trims

 17. Fuel System status

 18. Fuel Pressure


Please continue to follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates and for the fantastic interaction I receive from many of you.




ASE Sample Question
Straight Talk
ASE Sample Certification Question


Normal key-off battery drain (parasitic draw) on a vehicle with many computer and electronic circuits is ________.


a. 20   30 milliamperes

b. 2   3 amperes

c. 0.20 to 0.40 A

d. 150 to 300 milliamperes



The correct answer is a.  It is normal for a vehicle to have a normal key-off battery drain of 20 to 30 mA (0.02 to 0.03 A).  Answer b (2 to 3 amperes), answer c (0.2 to 0.4 A), and answer d (150 to 300 mA) are not correct because they are all much higher than the maximum allowable specification of 50 mA (0.05 A) as stated by most vehicle manufacturers.



For FREE sample ASE test questions with answers, visit my website where you will find 15 questions for each of the eight ASE areas (120 total questions).

For an excellent resource for all eight ASE content areas, consider this test preparation book:

Tech Tips

Programming Automatic Power Windows


Many vehicles are equipped with automatic operation that can cause the window to go all the way down (or up) if the switch is depressed beyond a certain point or held for a fraction of a second. Sometimes this feature is lost if the battery in the vehicle has been disconnected. Although this programming procedure can vary depending on the make and model, many times the window(s) can be reprogrammed without using a scan tool by simply depressing and holding the down button for 10 seconds. If the vehicle is equipped with an auto up feature, repeat the procedure by holding the button up for 10 seconds. Always check exact service information for the vehicle being serviced.

Straight Talk

From the June 6, 2013, Wheels section in the Dayton Daily News:


Reader asks about synthetic anti-freeze


Wheels: John M. writes by e-mail:



"I understand that there is a new synthetic anti-freeze.  What can you tell me about using this product? Why would it be advertised as new?  Is there a new synthetic type? Are there any advantages to using the "new" product?"


Halderman: It is called marketing. Ethylene glycol is a synthetic so there is nothing new. Anti-freeze coolant is a mixture of ethylene glycol (about 47%) and de-mineralized water (50%) and 3% additives. Use what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. The types of coolants (antifreeze and water) include:

  • Inorganic additive technology (IAT) coolants are conventional coolants that have been used for over 50 years. The color of an IAT coolant is green. Phosphates in these coolants can cause deposit formation if used with hard water (i.e., water with high mineral content). The use of IAT coolants in new vehicles was phased out in the mid-1990s.
  • Organic acid technology (OAT) coolants contain ethylene glycol, but do not contain silicates or phosphates. The color of this type of coolant is usually orange. DEXCOOL, developed by Havoline, is just one brand of OAT coolant, which has been used in General Motors vehicles since 1996.
  • StraightTalkHybrid organic acid technology (HOAT) is a newer variation of OAT. An HOAT coolant is similar to the OAT- type antifreeze as it uses organic acid salts (carboxylates) that are not abrasive to water pumps. HOAT coolants can be green, orange, yellow, gold, pink, red, or blue.
  • Universal coolants are usually HOAT coolants with extended life and are low-silicate and phosphate-free. They can be used in many vehicles, but cannot meet the needs of engines requiring a silicate-free formulation. 
  • Premixed coolant is a coolant that is mixed with the proper percentage of water and is ready for use. The water is demineralized and therefore does not include chlorine and other possible chemicals that could cause damage to the cooling system. Toyota and Honda are two vehicle manufacturers that specify the use of premixed coolant only.


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Jim Halderman
James D. Halderman writes automotive technology textbooks for Pearson Education. He is an ASE-certified Master Technician with more than 20 years instructional experience.