Lance Wiggins
Lance Wiggins is ATRA’s technical director and the technical editor for GEARS Magazine. Every technical article that reaches the pages of GEARS must first pass his requirements for technical accuracy and validity. Lance got his start in the auto repair industry through a regional occupational program offered through school. His natural aptitude and attraction to all things mechanical made him a perfect fit. He went on to work for a Ford dealership, earning their highest educational certification. And he’s since earned certifications through Chevrolet, Chrysler, Nissan, ACDelco, and ASE. Since joining ATRA in 1999, he’s helped reshape the landscape of transmission technical education, having supervised the creation of ATRA’s latest Testing and Certification program. He’s written several books, available through the ATRA BookStore, hundreds of articles for GEARS, and created a wide range of seminar programs and handout material. And he’s been honored with more than a dozen IAMA awards for writing.
Chapter 1: In The Beginning
Famous poet Maya Angelou observed, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” So, as we begin ATRA’s next chapter, I thought it would be good to look back at the beginning and what Chapter 1 looked like. Before we look at the origins of ATRA Chapters, let’s […]

It's a Family Affair!
They say family makes you stronger, and I believe that’s true. I was an only child with a single mom; it was hard sometimes. There were countless days I wished I had a sibling. Over the years, I was adopted into other families through friendships. I had brothers, sisters, other moms, and father figures. It, […]

Bridging the Gap! Case Study 2.1 - The Instructor's Point of View
Bridging The Gap featured image
In the last issue of GEARS, I talked to three students about their experience with the automotive industry and what ATRA can do to help them with a career. This time I wanted to get some information from the instructor and what he is doing to help get young adults into the industry. The auto […]

Bridging the Gap! Case Study 2.0
In April of 2020, I wrote an article about ATRA’s Virtual Training Solutions, VTS platform and how to bridge the gap between the student and the shop. We spent the majority of Friday driving around the Phoenix area visiting schools. During this time, we wanted to introduce ourselves to the various schools and talk to […]

Servicing the Cooling System in the AC60E
Now that summer is in full swing more and more transmissions are burning up in the hot summer sun. Giving the example of the northwestern heat of 120+ degrees reaching from Canada all the way down through into Mexico, it’s just plain hot! Keeping those transmissions cool is vital to the operation. In this example […]

Fine-Tuning A Winning Attitude
“People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt. I’m reading a book titled Finding the Winning Edge by Bill Walsh. He’s one of the winningest football coaches of all time and the father of the West Coast run-and-gun offense. […]

Play to the Shift...
Now that we are getting “back on the field of play” let’s take a closer look at the 8L90 shift quality concerns. Shift concerns are just like playing the shift in a baseball game with that big left-handed power hitter that hits everything to the right side of the field. You know it’s going to […]

Virtually Speaking
Technically speaking, we’ve been virtual for many years already. I mean, look at YouTube. You- Tube has somewhere in the realm of 842 million keywords. They have 1.3 billon users and over 300 hours of video uploaded per minute. Close to 5 billion videos are watched and 30 million visitors come to the site each […]

Plant the Seed, Add Water, and Watch It Grow!
When I started in this industry back in 1987, things were much different. Very few shops had computers, there were no smartphones, and social media didn’t exist. Do you remember unplugging your landline phone and plugging in your dial-up modem to go on the internet? But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, at one time […]

Persistence and Patience
There’s something to be said for persistence and patience. Whether it’s building that transmission that’s always given you problems and finally getting it right. Or, realizing your dream of opening your own shop. Or, as a student, successfully completing your last few classes, graduating, and starting your career. It required persistence and patience. Persistence and […]

VTS Bridging The Gap From School To Shop
When I touched down the Friday before the Phoenix, AZ seminar, Keith Clark and I had planned to stop by a few colleges and talk about how ATRA can help bridge the gap from school to shop. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw at Glendale Community College and the Universal Technical Institute, UTI. We […]

How Do We Get Young People Into The Industry? Mentoring The Next Generation
from the Tech director cover
Hi, I’m Lance Wiggins, I’m Generation X! I listen to alternative music, love coffee and if there’s a system to buck, I’m your man! I like wearing sweatpants under my shorts with boots and a short sleeve shirt. Don’t forget the flannel wrapped around my waist. Occasionally I’ll brush my hair and don’t worry, literally, […]

It's Time to Get Grounded!
Does your Torqshift fail immediately after a rebuild? Do you have multiple pump failures after working on Ford diesel transmissions? Do you find yourself sitting on the side of the road, having a nervous breakdown because this Torqshift keeps failing? Well, I have news for you: You aren’t alone. Many technicians are suffering from the […]

Casting a Positive Note to the Industry
When you have a passion to serve, it tends to overcome your life in a positive way. Opening the door for someone… letting people go before you… asking if there’s anything else you can do for them… it’s these types of core values that make you who you are. For me, I’ve always been told […]

Dangerous Flood Waters
In 2006, I was in Biloxi, Mississippi, just a few short months after hurricane Katrina. The devastation was unbelievable and the recovery took years. Now, with hurricane Harvey and Irma, both Texas and Florida are in for the same fate. This is a warning for all shops! In 2006, I wrote this article about septic […]

ATRA Technician Certification Program
Calling this a certification program might be selling ourselves short, because it’s much more than that. The ATRA certification program is actually a complete educational curriculum. It includes all the resources you need to pass the tests, but it’s also filled with all the background information you need to take your place as a leader […]

Educating to Industry or Educating the Industry?
The 2016 ATRA Powertrain Expo hosted by GEARS and ATRA is over! It was a terrific event, and we all learned a lot about how we think about one another. My message to you today is simple: Change the way you think and start educating yourself. I held a weeklong class on education to the […]

A New Dynamic for Today’s Transmission Shops
Over the years I’ve developed a specific reputation with GEARS readers; you see my byline and you figure I’m going to be talking about tech. Not all that surprising; after all, that’s a big part of my job with ATRA and GEARS. But a lot of my time is spent talking to shop owners. Sure, […]

Practice Makes Perfect
So there we were, 4th down and goal, with the ball on the 2-yard line; we were down by 7 with 35 seconds left in the game. I called timeout and brought the players over to talk about what we were going to do. It was a do-or-die moment… win or go home… and I […]