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What Is a Car Mechanic?

A mechanic may work for a shop that does tune ups and general maintenance.
A car mechanic can test or replace a vehicle's battery.
Car mechanics should have good communication and analytical skills.
A mechanic working.
Car mechanics are responsible for replacing a vehicle's fluids.
A car mechanic may choose to work at a car dealership.
Car mechanics know how to use power tools, such as an air wrench.
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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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A car mechanic is a service professional who maintains and repairs automotive vehicles. He or she might work on cars and trucks that operate using a traditional fuel like gasoline, or a non-traditional fuel such as ethanol or electricity. This type of mechanic's job may require expertise in all parts and components of a vehicle or the mechanic may specialize in a particular area such as engines, brakes, electrical systems or emissions equipment.

Automotive mechanics may be employed by many different types of companies. Car dealerships commonly have a repair and maintenance department that employs mechanics. A car mechanic can also find work at repair shops, service stations and automobile leasing companies. Jobs of this type can also be obtained at car manufacturing plants where new cars require inspection before being shipped to dealerships. A significant number of car mechanics are self-employed.

Before the advent of high tech automotive diagnostic equipment, a car mechanic commonly had to heavily rely upon knowledge and experience to isolate automotive problems and correct them. Customers typically described the problem to the mechanic, and the mechanic put the car through a series of manual tests until the source of the problem was determined. After conferring with the customer on the options of repair and replacement costs, the car mechanic went to work to fix the problem.

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Although a car mechanic today still benefits from hands-on experience, he or she is also generally required to know how to use electronic equipment and specialized software that helps diagnose automotive problems. This sophisticated equipment can be used to measure pressurized systems, analyze electrical system problems and diagnose engine and carburetor glitches. One of the earliest and most used electronic diagnostic systems analyzes automobile emissions to determine if they meet standards imposed by environmental protection agencies.

Success as a car mechanic normally requires good communication skills and good analytical abilities. Non-professionals commonly lack the language skills to clearly describe automotive problems, so a mechanic is regularly required to interpret their descriptions of a car’s malfunctions.

A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required of potential car mechanics. Classes in computer operations, math, mechanical analysis and science are strongly preferred for aspiring automotive technicians. A considerable and growing number of employers require applicants for this position to complete an automotive repair training program at a local college or vocational school. Professional certification is also sometimes required to be hired as a car mechanic.

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Discuss this Article

jcraig
Post 4

I have recently been thinking about changing my career, and going into car maintenance.

If I'm going to go through with this, I'd like to do it right. I have some experience with small engines, and I can do regular work on my vehicles. I don't know if I know quite enough to get a job without more training, though.

Are there specific car mechanic schools, or is everything done at junior or technical colleges? I've thought about maybe trying to find some car mechanic courses online. Do these exist, or is everything hands on? Night classes would be a plus for me.

After you graduate, how hard is it to find car mechanic jobs? Do some colleges have internship or job placement programs to help you out at first?

cardsfan27
Post 3

I think a lot of people underestimate the communication skills of a good car mechanic.

I always sort of feel like a fool when I take my car anywhere to get it fixed. I don't know what all of the parts are under the hood to help the mechanics out at all. I usually just have to guess where the sound is coming from.

For someone like me, having a good mechanic who can try to put the car into words you can understand is very important. Being able to ask your car mechanic questions without them talking down to you is a big plus, too. Anytime I move somewhere new, I always try out a few mechanics until I find one that I feel comfortable with.

jmc88
Post 2

I'd be interested to hear input on this from a car mechanic who has several years experience, but I am curious as to how much the world of being a car mechanic has changed over the last couple of decades.

All of the cars made now have computer systems that let you know, or at least give you a general idea, of what is wrong with the car before you even open the hood.

I know when I was younger, there were two different local car mechanics in town. One of them changed with the times and started buying a lot of the newer diagnostic equipment, and the other didn't. Over the course of ten years or less, the second mechanic wasn't able to perform all of the same maintenance as the other garage, and he eventually went out of business while the first garage grew.

I'm sure there have been a lot of changes with the introduction of more foreign cars into America, as well.

Izzy78
Post 1

I have a friend who is a car mechanic, and with the economy right now, he says it is more and more important for mechanics to have at least a two year degree and get as much certification as they can.

A lot of places won't even consider someone who hasn't gotten extra training on automobiles, and if you can get certified, you are much more likely to make it through to an interview.

I think the most common certification is through ASE. I'm not sure quite how the program works, but as I understand it, there are different areas where you take tests. If you can pass all of them, you are an ASE certified master technician. This is what my friend is, and it has helped him a lot moving through the industry.

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