Author & Automotive Expert James D. Halderman



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Halderman newsletterJuly 2013

My new title "Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair" is due out this month in time for the start of classes this fall. Check my website and look under "comprehensive books" for the table of contents as well as the 2012 and 2013 NATEF correlation charts. 


I have already posted the cross word puzzles and word search games for each chapter with the lesson plans and other elements coming as soon as possible. 


Also, I will be traveling to Quebec City for this year's NACAT conference. I will be presenting How to Take and Pass the ASE Tests. I've been fortunate enough to present at NACAT since 1990.


As the 40th NACAT, this will be a special conference this year. Hopefully I see many of you there! Please stop by the Pearson booth at the trade show and say hi to me!


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

Question: ASE

Technician A says brake fluid should be filled to the top of the reservoir to be assured of proper brake pressure when the brakes are applied.  Technician B says that the brake fluid level should be filled only to the maximum-level line to allow for expansion when the brake fluid gets hot during normal operation.  Which technician is correct?


a.         Technician A only     

b.         Technician B only

c.         Both Technicians A and B

d.         Neither Technician A nor B



The correct answer is b.  Technician B is correct because brake fluid gets hot and expands as the heat from the brake pads and shoes is transferred to the brake fluid.  Technician A is not correct because the brakes could self-apply when the brake fluid gets hot and expands if the brake fluid level were above the MAX line.  The pressure in the hydraulic system is created by the pistons in the master cylinder and is not affected by the level of the brake fluid unless the reservoir is empty.  Answers c and d are not correct because Technician B only is correct.


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

Tech Tip Purchase Quality Brake Linings 

for Best Performance


While many brands of replacement brake lining provide acceptable stopping power and long life, purchasing factory brake lining from a dealer is usually the best opportunity to get lining material that meets all vehicle requirements. Aftermarket linings are not required by federal law to meet performance or wear standards that are required of original factory brake linings. In fact, one supplier told me while I was that trade show that he paid more for the cardboard box then he did for the linings which is purchased overseas. For best results, try to purchase quality braking linings and pads from known manufacturers.

Straight Talk

From the June 22, 2013, Wheels section in the Dayton Daily News:


Readers ask about oils and oil change intervals Straight Talk


Many readers including Dan T., Dave P., Steve C. and others have asked about what my advice is regarding oil change intervals and the use of synthetic and synthetic-blended oils.



Oil is a very popular topic and I get many questions about oil and oil change intervals. Here are some of the changes that I have seen in the last five years:

  1. Oil change intervals have increased from 5,000 miles to 7,500 or 10,000 miles. This sure is different from the old days when almost every manufacturer recommended that the oil be changed every 3,000 miles or every three months.
  2. Recommended minimum oil change intervals (regardless of miles driven) have increased from every six months to at least once a year even if the miles driven are less than 10,000.
  3. The use of vehicle specific engine oil standards. The most commonly used is dexos (spelled with a lower case "d" according to GM). European vehicles are also required to use specific oil designed for their engines and these can be expensive. It is not unusual for an oil change in a Mercedes or BMW to exceed $250 but that is using six or more quarts of very specific oil that has a robust additive package.
  4. The lack of specific oil change intervals being published by the vehicle manufacturers and instead, they specify that oil life monitor be used to indicate when the oil should be changed. This interval can be as short as every 3,000 miles if driven mostly in the city or as long as every 10,000 or longer if the vehicle is driven mostly on the highway.

Not all synthetic oils are the same as they can be made from Group 3, 4 or 5 base stock.

  • Group 3 is the least expensive and is used by many oil companies to create synthetic blends which combine the highly refined group 3 stock oil with conventional mineral oil which is classified as group 2.
  • Group 4 is PAO base which is expensive and used by Mobil 1.
  • Group 5 is usually ester based oils such as used in Redline and Royal Purple brands of oil.

The bottom line is to change the oil according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation or use the oil life indicator and use the specified viscosity and standard such as dexos, etc. This is the most important thing to do. The actual type of oil is relatively minor in comparison to changing the oil regularly.



Find more Straight Talk columns here 

Please let me know what you think of the newsletter. I would love to include any of your automotive news or any tech tips you might have. Send me your suggestions! 
You can email me here or visit my website. You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn too (links above). And I encourage you to visit this website for great car reviews and more of my Straight Talk columns.
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.