Cottonwood High School automotive students have a good thing going in tracking down "bugs."

Two of the Granite District school's students, Dave Jolley and Mike Robinson, demonstrated Thursday they are adept at trouble-shooting in an automobile and won the right to represent Utah in the "Plymouth - Trouble Shooting" contest sponsored by Chrysler Motors and the American Automobile Association (AAA).Their state honor - the second for Cottonwood in as many years - came after Jolley and Robinson, both 18, topped scores of eight other two-man teams in hands-on competition held at Salt Lake Community College. The competition was sponsored by the State Office of Education.

The winners received scholarships, trophies and an expense-paid trip, along with their parents and school instructor, Rand Perrier, to the national finals June 15-18 in Washington, D.C.

All 1991 Plymouth Voyagers used in the hands-on phase had identical "bugs." Students were given a maximum of 11/2 hours to diagnose and correct the problems. Comprehensive written examinations were administered earlier.

While speed was important, it was also essential that students minimize the number of demerits for mistakes such as a rag or screwdriver being left in an engine compartment.

"It took us 39 minutes and 44 seconds. We were the third (team) to finish but were the only ones with the perfect car," said Robinson after an awards luncheon.

A son of Lynn and Pat Robinson, the youth said he and Jolley had a number of electrical problems to solve.

"The engine had a fake spark plug. It had a defective TPS throttle position sensor) and was missing some tail lights, a dome light and some fuses. And the flasher relay, the starter relay and the spark plug wires were crossed," said Robinson. Jolley, a son of Dan and Christine Robinson, said it was "a challenge to beat the clock," but Perrier had given them similar or identical problems on which to practice.

Contestants may have had good practice and training, but none knew what the "bugs" would be when they reached the hands-on phase. Approximately 130 students in 36 Utah high schools initially took written examinations. The top two students from the top 10 high schools qualified for Thursday's event.

Geoffrey Rice, AAA's Utah field operations director, said Provo High's tandem was the first to finish. "But Cottonwood had the only perfect car. It was a good example of quality being more important than speed."

Ralph A. Andersen, state coordinator of the contest for the State Office of Education, joined Rice in praising both the abilities of all participants and the program's impact on the automotive industry. "More than 90 percent of those who participate in the hands-on contest end up with well-paying jobs in the automotive industry," Andersen said.

Other high school seniors, and their instructors, who participated in Thursday's hands-on competition included:

American Fork High - Chad Carter, Keith Schramm; Roland Woodland, instructor.

Pineview High, St. George - Richard Paxman, Darrick Christensen; Rick Moorwood, instructor.

Mountain Crest High, Hyrum, Cache County - Ryan Zollinger, Zan Murray; Joseph K. Gilgen, instructor

Provo High - Mike Young, Ryan Payne; McVea Coleman, instructor.

Cyprus High - Robert Rigby, Eric Stults; Howard McIntosh, instructor.

Weber High - Val Tanner, Shannon Taylor; Charlie Nielson, instructor.

Cedar City High - Rustin Jacobson, Rames Stevens; Richard Wittwer, instructor.

Hillcrest High, Midvale - Derek Olschewski, Jason Innes; Troy Spratling, instructor.

With only one demerit, the Hillcrest team finished second, and Mountain Crest students netted third place with three demerits.