KENNEWICK -- If your late-model Ford Mustang is giving you trouble, you might want to ask Miguel Tobon and Edgar Guzman to take a peek under the hood.
Judging by recent events, the two young men might have your ride up and running in under an hour.
The two students from Tri-Tech Skills Center this week won the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition held at Renton Technical College. Next month, they head to Dearborn, Mich., for nationals.
The two competed against nine other teams at state. Judges had put flaws into 2012 Ford Mustangs and given each team 90 minutes to fix them.
A repair order said that the car was running rough, wouldn't go into drive, wouldn't charge the battery and had several other electrical issues.
Tobon, of Kennewick, and Guzman, of Benton City, walked away from the car after working on it for 55 minutes. That seemed too quick to their teacher.
"Usually the first guys out miss a few things," said instructor Larry Brookes.
Out of 10 installed flaws, the two students found nine. They missed a faulty dimmer switch for the dashboard light.
That, along with two minor installation mistakes, earned them five minus points from the judges.
"I was upset," said Tobon, who had missed the bad switch. "I thought we'd be perfect. I felt like I'd brought us down as a team."
But then the judges announced everyone else's points -- the Tri-Tech guys had beaten the other teams by a mile.
The second-place team took 20 minutes longer and had 12 minus points.
Many hours of extra work had paid off.
"Those two spent a lot of their personal time after school preparing," Brookes said.
Teacher and students spent two weeks on a Mustang from Tom Denchel Ford of Prosser. Their teacher installed some tricky bugs for them to find.
"I was a lot worse than they were at state," Brookes said, chuckling at the memory. "They came in and nothing would turn on."
Even when the students managed to make the practice car's lights come on and the starter to crank, it still wouldn't start.
"Just about every electronic part was bugged at one point or another," Brookes said. "But in the final practice they found 18 bugs in 48 minutes."
They will continue with the same kind of practice for the nationals, which are held at Ford's world headquarters in mid-June. Students and teacher will get a free trip, including flights and hotel, from the carmaker.
That's on top of a total of $38,000 in vouchers for automotive training at institutes nationwide that each student received for the state title.
The students are planning to take advantage of the vouchers to get at least associate degrees and certifications.
Tobon would like to open his own shop, he said.
Guzman wasn't sure about the details of his career yet.
"I just want to be a successful auto technician," he said.