As a car mechanic, you are the person responsible for repairing and maintaining automobiles. You work on everything from engines and brakes to transmission systems and electrical components. You use specialized tools to remove and replace damaged parts and repair the overall vehicle. Your duties also include providing routine maintenance services like oil changes and fluid replacements. Some mechanics even specialize in certain types of repairs, such as electronics or glass work.
Most auto mechanic jobs require a high school diploma or GED certificate and some vocational training from an auto shop or community college. You must be comfortable working with your hands and have a willingness to learn new things on the job. Since technology in cars is constantly changing, mechanics should strive to stay abreast of advancements and attend continuing education courses. Some auto mechanic schools offer student internships with local dealerships or tire and parts chains, giving you a head start in your career.
In addition to the technical skills learned in school, you must have good analytical abilities and be able to figure out what is wrong with vehicles. You must be able to understand how all the different parts of a vehicle work together and have mechanical knowledge of each component and system. You should be able to determine when a major part needs to be removed and reinstalled, and you must know how to follow manufacturer guidelines for installing replacement parts.
Mechanics must be able to communicate clearly with customers about the status of their vehicles and recommend any necessary repairs. They must also be able to provide accurate cost estimates and keep records of all repairs completed. If you choose to become a certified professional mechanic, you must pass a series of tests to earn your ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification. Many car manufacturers also have their own certification programs that teach you the ins and outs of repairing their specific brands of cars and trucks.
Some mechanics compare their profession to that of a doctor, because people often visit them only when their car is broken down. This means you must have good customer service skills to keep customers happy and coming back for future repairs. You may need to educate customers about the importance of routine preventative maintenance, as it can save them money in the long run by reducing the likelihood of expensive repairs.
A mechanic should always maintain a clean workspace and follow all safety regulations when performing repairs. You should never leave a greasy handprint on a customer’s windshield, and you should always wipe down your tools before returning them to the toolbox. You must also give the customer a copy of the invoice that shows which parts were replaced, the price for each and whether they were original or aftermarket parts. If you work at a shop that performs warranty repairs, you must also return the faulty parts to the manufacturer for inspection. If you need to take a vehicle for service away from the shop, the mechanic should record the mileage and make the keys available upon pick-up.