WILLMAR -- In order to learn how to fix car engines, transmissions, bodies and bumpers, the students at Ridgewater College's auto repair programs need cars.
Through the Ridgewater College Foundation, the auto body collision repair and auto technology programs have put out a plea to the community seeking car donations to replenish their supply of cars for department use.
The departments are seeking new-model passenger vehicles and prefer the cars to be in working order, but will also take cars that are not currently running, according to auto body program instructor Joe Wambeke.
The donated vehicles are used for two years of student instruction. Auto technology students will use the engines to create and fix engine problems. The auto body students use just about every part of the interior and exterior of the vehicles to learn and practice, Wambeke said.
"We use the cars until we can't use them anymore," he said.
The students start their future trade by making dents in the fenders and body, and then fixing those dents. Then they cut holes in the body panels and patch and fix the holes. They remove interior components, take the engines out and put the engines back in. They also paint the cars and learn pin-striping techniques.
As part of their training, students delve deeper into the car's parts and take apart the key components, including the drive train, the transmission, the suspension and the engine. The departments also take the air bags out of the vehicles and use them during presentations about vehicle and passenger safety.
"There's not much we don't use," Wambeke said. He estimated the departments use between six and 10 cars a year.
To donate a vehicle, call Angie Harrison at 320-222-6095 or email angela.
Those donating vehicles are asked to make an appointment to bring the vehicle, title and keys to the college. A one-page donation form is also required to be completed. A receipt will be mailed as required by the Internal Revenue Service for tax deduction purposes.