What Does An Auto Mechanic Do?
Auto mechanics are also called automotive service technicians. They are responsible for the regular inspection, maintenance, and repair of cars, vans, and trucks.
Auto mechanics can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Repair shops
- Auto dealerships
- Auto parts stores
In order to do their job well, auto mechanics must understand different vehicles and how all the parts work together to perform properly.
Auto mechanics that work in an auto parts store may not actually work on vehicles. Their job is to help customers purchase the parts that are needed for each specific maintenance or repair issue. In order to do this job effectively they must have experience and an excellent understanding of cars and how they work.
Auto mechanics who perform the physical work on vehicles, usually work on vehicles for two main reasons:
- the vehicle needs a regularly scheduled maintenance inspection
- the vehicle is not working correctly
Auto mechanics are responsible for completing regularly scheduled service inspections and maintenance. During these inspections, they follow a checklist to make sure they examine all the different parts of the vehicle. Some parts just require a visual inspection, while other parts must be tested or measured using special equipment.
Different vehicles have a variety of systems and parts. During a regular maintenance appointment, depending on the vehicle’s systems, mileage and age, auto mechanics must follow the manufacturer’s service schedule and:
- check all fluid levels, and fill as necessary
- windshield washer
- power steering
- check and change the oil
- inspect windshield wiper blades
- check tire pressure, add air when needed
- rotate the tires
- check the brakes
- inspect the battery
- examine belts and hoses
- check filters
- check spark plugs
- check all lights
- check the oxygen sensor
If a vehicle is brought in for repair due to an unknown problem, an auto mechanic will sometimes begin with a routine inspection to narrow down the possibilities and start the process of identifying the problem.
They must be able to perform routine tests to examine the different systems to figure out what the problem might be. These tests are carried out using specialized equipment, sometimes computerized.
Depending on the type of problem the vehicle is having, an auto mechanic might have to remove and disassemble a part to inspect it further. They must be able to take it apart carefully and properly, following directions in a manual if necessary. They must use a variety of handheld, power, and computerized tools.
Once it has been disassembled and inspected, the faulty parts must be replaced. After that, the piece must be carefully and correctly reassembled. Once a part has been repaired and reassembled it must be tested to make sure the repair was successful.
Auto mechanics work on all different parts and systems of a vehicle, some mechanical and some electrical, including the:
- drive belt
- heating and air conditioning
- safety sensors
Since there are so many different types of vehicles, repair shops can’t possibly carry all the parts for all different cars. Therefore, auto mechanics must be prepared to order the parts necessary to fix a problem. They must be able to accurately identify the necessary part and correctly order it from a supplier.
Most auto repair shops focus on a certain brand or type of car. This allows the mechanics to gain experience with a certain type of car, and allows the shop to carry more parts specific to that type of vehicle.
Auto mechanics must be able to communicate with the owners of the vehicles they are working on. They must be able to effectively listen to the owners concerns and then tell them:
- what they think the problem is
- how it can be fixed
- the estimated cost
- how long it will take
- what other related problems may arise in the future
- about the work that was completed
- about future maintenance options
Auto mechanics are also required to keep detailed records of all the work that they do. The records must be clear enough for the next mechanic to see what the past problems have been so that they can use that information in the future.
Auto mechanics must stay up to date on any new technology that is being used when building cars. This means learning about engines that run on alternative fuel, as well as innovative features and upgrades.
Successful auto mechanics must be focused and detail oriented. They must be motivated to figure out a problem and then be able follow the necessary steps to fix it. Auto mechanics must be able to estimate the time it will take to fix a problem, and then work within that time frame to complete the work on time as promised.