What Does an Auto Mechanic Do?
More than 90% of American households own a vehicle, so it’s no surprise that the people who keep them running are in high demand. Auto mechanics — also known as automotive service technicians and mechanics — inspect, maintain and repair cars and light trucks. They perform a wide variety of services including computer diagnostics, safety inspections, maintenance tasks like oil changes, and a wide variety of repairs related to brakes, air conditioning, suspension, emission systems and more. Automotive technicians increasingly use highly sophisticated equipment and computer software as cars and trucks evolve.
Most technicians work in repair shops full-time and during normal business hours and may have a lot of interaction with customers.
- Perform diagnostic tests on vehicles via tablet, laptop or mobile device
- Perform preventative maintenance
- Determine issues and which parts need repair
- Test drive vehicles
- Effectively communicate to customers about needed repairs
- Perform repairs
- Understand wiring diagrams and system tests
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for an entry-level or apprentice position. Independent repair shops provide on-the-job training as the employee works toward certification. It usually takes two to three years to become a certified technician.
Community colleges and trade school offer programs. Classes include mathematics, electronics and automotive repair. Dealerships also offer in-house manufacturer training that's specific to a particular brand of vehicle.
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is considered the top standard, with additional certification often required for specialty parts such as electronics, air conditioning or diesel engines. Additional certification translates into additional income opportunities.
- Communicate well
- Have good attention to detail
- Enjoy problem-solving
- Have a keen sense of hearing
- Have an aptitude for mechanical work