Auto mechanics perform maintenance and repairs on all different types of vehicles, from small passenger cars to motorcycles to diesel trucks and buses. Many mechanics specialize in certain types of repair jobs, such as engine work, auto body repair, and electronic systems. Since there is so much room for specialty, there are several different auto mechanic jobs available.
Many auto mechanics work in independent shops with other service technicians. General mechanics frequently perform preventative maintenance, such as replenishing various fluids, changing filters, rotating tires, and diagnosing engines. When an automobile is not running properly, they may follow troubleshooting guidelines to diagnose problems and repair or replace damaged parts.
Auto mechanic jobs often require that a person has an extensive knowledge about a certain aspect of vehicles. Transmission mechanics, for example, focus on the various parts of automatic and manual transmission systems, such as gears, drive shafts, bearings, and casings. Brake specialists diagnose problems with brake systems, replenish brake fluids, and change pads. Mechanics may also specialize in servicing complex electrical systems, which can differ greatly between certain types of vehicles. Other specialties may include front end repair, bodywork, and ignition systems maintenance.
Diesel mechanics service diesel engines on passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, and buses. Diesel powered automobiles work differently than those powered by gasoline and often require very different maintenance and repair practices. As with other auto mechanic jobs, diesel mechanics frequently specialize in transmission work, brake repair, computer systems, or other areas. They may work for independent repair shops or companies with many diesel vehicles on hand which need regular maintenance checks.
To become an auto mechanic in any specialty, a person must typically have a high school diploma and a background in repair work. Many employers prefer to hire mechanics who have completed training programs offered by vocational schools and community colleges. Though specific certification is not always required, many beginning mechanics take a test offered by a nationally recognized institution to improve their credentials and increase their chances of finding auto mechanic jobs. In the United States, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers certification for several different specialties, including brake repair, air conditioning and heating, and electronic systems.
As automotive technology advances and alternative fuel vehicles become more popular, the number of different auto mechanic jobs continues to rise. Specialists in computers and electronic systems are in great demand to service the complex systems installed on many modern vehicles. Cars that run on electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels require the skills of highly specialized maintenance and repair mechanics.