Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Ford-AAA Program Summary

Information about the Ford-American Automobile Association (AAA) student auto skills competition.


The purpose of the Ford Motor Company/American Automobile Association (AAA) Student Auto Skills Competition is to encourage talented young people to pursue careers as automotive service technicians. Ford Motor Company and AAA wholeheartedly support this program and are committed to it as an investment in the future of our young people and improved automotive service for all motorists.


This is a nationwide competition for eleventh and twelfth grade students in secondary schools that offer courses in automotive technology and have at least one full-time or part-time automotive instructor. Each participating instructor selects the best students to take a written examination, which is administered by the California Department of Education. Each instructor may enter a minimum of 2 students. In most states, the ten teams scoring highest on the written exam then move on to the hands-on state finals scheduled each year in late April or early May.

In the hands-on state finals competition, new Ford Motor Company vehicles are uniformly “bugged” so that each team has identical malfunctions to diagnose and repair. The competition requires repairs to be made with the highest quality workmanship in the lowest total time (under 90 minutes). California, because of its size and automotive transportation focus, has north and south competitions occurring simultaneously, with the lowest scoring time and least demerits being declared the winning team for California. The winning two-person team from each state and their instructor are provided an all expenses-paid trip to the national finals in June, held in Dearborn, MI at the Ford World Headquarters. At the national competition, teams from across the nation again take hands-on and written examinations. The team with the fewest quality-of-workmanship demerits and the best combined total score of repair time and written examination is declared the winner.


Students, instructors, and schools have the opportunity to earn savings bonds, scholarships, trophies, clothing, certificates, shop manuals, trips, and automotive equipment. Opportunities with the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program will be available to many of the competition finalists.


Funding for this national competition comes mainly from Ford Motor Company and the California State Automobile Association (CSAA). While no direct funding is provided by the California Department of Education, funding for staff time is included in the Career and Workforce Innovations Unit operating budget to assist as a member of the Technical Committee coordinating the contest and written test locations, administering written tests and judging the hands-on competitions. 

Students Served

In California, approximately 200 students take the written exam; forty students compete in the state finals hands-on competition (10 teams of 2 students in both northern and southern California) and 2 students move on to compete in the national finals. This is based on the number of respondents to the applications sent out in November/December each year.


Students are awarded bonds, tools, clothing, scholarships, school vehicles, and equipment donations as prizes in the contests. Names of all contestants are submitted to Ford Motor Co. dealers, CSAA service facilities, and many other sponsoring organizations that have need for automotive service technicians. The competition promotes the training and certification of top quality automotive service technicians working in high demand, high paying career opportunities in the automotive repair industry.

Contact Information

The Ford/AAA Program is administered by:

Dara Dubois, Education Programs Consultant

Career Technical Education Leadership and Instructional Support Office
Career and College Transition Division
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 4202
Sacramento, CA 95814

Questions:   Dara Dubois | | 916-445-7754
Last Reviewed: Friday, August 22, 2014

Share this Page

Recently Posted in Career Technical Education

No items posted in the last 60 days.