Inspecting Used Transmission Repair Truck

What Kind of Equipment Does an Auto Mechanic Use?

The job of an auto mechanic has become increasingly specialized in the 21st century. Until the 1960s, all you needed was a good wrench set, a strong pair of pliers and a couple of sizes of screwdrivers and you could repair most cars. Modern cars are much more evolved, with hundreds of computer chips and solid state electronic parts. It requires specialized equipment to diagnose problems with these sophisticated electronic devices, and auto mechanics today have to learn how to use modern electronic diagnostic equipment as well as all of the traditional tools of the trade.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are still an essential part of an auto mechanic’s tool set. All commercial garages have pneumatic wrenches to make life easier, but hand wrenches or pliers still need to be used in tight spots. A screwdriver set, including flat and Phillips heads, is also a requirement for auto mechanics. Auto mechanics also regularly use grinders, lathes and measuring tools such as micrometers and pressure gauges.

Specialized Auto Part Tools

Mechanical and digital micrometers are commonly used in mechanical engineering applications, and a specialized digital brake micrometer for automobiles has also been developed. Other specialized auto part tools used by mechanics include tire pressure gauges, oil filter wrenches and cutter tools, steering wheel lock plate tools, clutch alignment tools, strut spring compressors and spark plug sockets and gauge tools.

 

Welding Equipment

Welding is required in a range of auto repairs, and flame-torch cutting is also used to remove and repair exhaust systems. Most auto welding involves MIG or flux-cored arc auto body work, or spot or stud welding, where a bolt or weld nut is welded to another metal part. Sometimes auto mechanics have to use a spot weld cutter to remove old spot welds.

Lifts and Hoists

Auto mechanics also use a variety of lifts and hoists to give them access to the area of the vehicle that needs to be repaired. Most large garages have pneumatic lifts that raise cars to the appropriate level. Private mechanics might use hoist systems or jacks, or even just an auto dolly to roll under the chassis.

Electronic Diagnostic Equipment

Modern auto mechanics use a variety of electronic diagnostic equipment to help them determine the exact cause of a problem. Most of these diagnostic devices are hand-held or portable on wheels. Mechanics compare the data produced by the diagnostic equipment to the standards provided by the manufacturer. This enables mechanics to accurately diagnose problems based on the latest information downloaded from manufacturer databases

 

Can Mechanics Keep Up With Car Technology?

Tinkering with your car has always been a good way to void your warranty, but pop the hood on a motor vehicle today and you might not even know where to begin. Whereas auto repair was once viewed as the rough-and-tumble profession of under-educated “grease monkeys,” today’s auto technicians are closer to computer hackers than blue-collar wrench hands.

The challenge of technology is nothing new for modern auto mechanics — there have even been laws passed to keep small-time mechanics in business as the role of technology increases. What then, does this mean for would-be professionals, young people interested in the profession? It’s a different path to the garage floor today.

Wrench? What’s That?

We’re living in the age of the self-driving car, and while it could be a few years until we see fully automated roadways, the technicians who work on those cars are being trained today.

Which skills does it take to make a modern mechanic? How about engine computer unit (ECU) management, metrics analysis, and stoichiometry? Not what you might think of when you take the family car in for an oil change. Don’t be misled: You’ll still need to know how to break loose a rusted lug nut if you plan on making a career as a mechanic, but now you need a number of additional skills.

As compared to the old-world approach of apprenticeship, most modern mechanics start their careers in a program at a school like Universal Technical Institute (UTI). These institutions allow students to pursue employment specific to a manufacturer. For example, a graduate specializing in work on Ford cars is about 60 percent of their way to earning the title of master mechanic at Ford Motor Co.

In Demand

The upside of this new challenge for auto technicians? Increased demand and better incentives for young people. Repairing cars is no longer viewed as a profession for those who may not be college-bound. Instead, it’s a viable profession, and the industry is seeking help. So while the workplace may be evolving, the job isn’t going away.

It’s not just the common car that has become more technical, either. Semi-trucks may not drive themselves just yet, but finding technicians who can keep up with the ever-changing technology can be one of trucking’s biggest challenges. This creates a demand for more specialized jobs for graduates of UTI and other trade-specific institutions.

A Promising Future

The future is no easy road, and with network technology becoming more integrated in modern cars every day, tomorrow’s technicians will need to add skill sets like Bluetooth and the Internet of Things (IoT) to their repertoire.

With manufacturers, dealerships, and smaller repair operations all seeking help, the median wage for auto technicians has increased significantly from around $41K/year, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2009. Specialized technicians who work on commission can even achieve six figures if they work quickly and effectively.

So can mechanics keep up with new car technology? With the right training and education, it seems the answer is yes.

 

Automotive Mechanics

If you have a passion for cars, you may want to consider a career as an automotive mechanic. Keep reading for more information on training programs and employment prospects in this field.

Inside Automotive Mechanic Careers

An automobile consists of many unique components. Automotive mechanics know the workings of all of these parts, including engines, brakes and car accessories. They also help drivers check and change fluids, spot potential problems and fix breakdowns or failures. By keeping a car or light truck in its best possible shape, mechanics can help car owners avoid spending more money on a new vehicle. If you think the automotive mechanic profession may be right for you, Study.com can help you take the next step. Check out the links to education, career and certification information provided below.

Education Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive technology is quickly becoming more advanced, and many employers prefer mechanics who have completed a formal training program in high school or in a postsecondary vocational school. Automotive mechanic certificate programs can teach students how to diagnose and solve problems in many different parts of a vehicle, including fuel, lighting, transmission and ignition systems.

 

Other Skills Required (Other qualifications)

The ability to diagnose the source of a problem quickly and accurately requires good reasoning ability and a thorough knowledge of automobiles. Many technicians consider diagnosing hard-to-find troubles one of their most challenging and satisfying duties. For trainee automotive service technician jobs, employers look for people with strong communication and analytical skills. Technicians need good reading, mathematics, and computer skills to study technical manuals. They must also read to keep up with new technology and learn new service and repair procedures and specifications.

Training in electronics is vital because electrical components, or a series of related components, account for nearly all malfunctions in modern vehicles. Trainees must possess mechanical aptitude and knowledge of how automobiles work. Experience working on motor vehicles in the Armed Forces or as a hobby can be very valuable.

There Are Many Options For Auto Repair Shops

How to Find a Good Mechanic

Find Out Who Services the Big Business Fleets in Your Area

Delivery vans, taxis, company cars, government vehicles – they all have to stay on the road, so you better believe they’re taken to a good mechanic when they need maintenance work or repairs.​

Search for a Good Mechanic Online

The Mechanics Files over on CarTalk is a great place to look for a mechanic recommendation or to check up on a mechanic that you’re considering. It features reviews of over 30,000 mechanics!

Choose Someone From the AAA-Approved Auto Repair Network

Even if you don’t have AAA, choosing a shop from their Approved Auto Repair Network can be a great way to vet a mechanic. All participating shops must offer 12 month/12,000 mile warranties on all repairs, use ASE or manufacturer-certified technicians and pass an annual AAA inspection.

Look Up ASE and Manufacturer-Certified Shops

When a mechanic is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the manufacturer of the particular make of car that they work on or both, that’s a pretty good indication that they know their stuff.

Check With the Better Business Bureau

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few mechanics, do a quick search on the Better Business Bureau website to check up on their ratings and reviews.

Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?

Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth

Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.

Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead

“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,” Mallette explains. His shop charges $40 per hour for labor. But in ritzy parts of West Los Angeles, the per-hour labor charge is $60-$65. In wealthy Newport Beach, California, Mallette has heard of $90-per-hour labor charges.

Get Several Estimates

Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges, Mallette notes. “I’ll tell people to go get some estimates and bring ’em back to me. I’ll match estimates if I can.”

Ask the Right Questions

When choosing a body shop, “you don’t go in with your pocketbook open,” Mallette explains. “You go in smart,” and ask some key questions. Does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?

Tips for Choosing an Auto Repair Shop

After a brutal winter, it’s important to get your car checked over to make sure all its components are in proper working order. But deciding where to take your car for maintenance or repairs can be a challenge, especially when you’re surrounded by multiple chains and dealerships begging for your business. Follow these five tips for choosing an auto repair shop, and you should end up finding someone you can trust

Ask Friends for Referrals. The best way to find a trustworthy mechanic is to ask those you trust for their recommendations. Your aunt or best friend might know the perfect mechanic that will give you straightforward advice and repair your car quickly and efficiently. On the flip side, your friends can also warn you against bad mechanics they might have come across in the past.

Check Out Online Reviews. In this day and age, hardly anyone buys an item—small or large—without first checking its Amazon reviews. Why should choosing a mechanic be any different? Check out Yelp, Google Maps, and DealerRater for reviews from real customers—both good and bad—that will help you choose a quality mechanic from the get-go.

Start Looking in Advance. Rather than waiting to find a mechanic until you need one, start looking around as soon as you buy your car or move to a new location. If you try to make a decision when you’re under pressure—for example when your alternator is busted—you’re more likely to rush your decision and potentially end up going someplace untrustworthy.

Visit the Repair Shop. Look for technicians’ diplomas or National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) training certificates on display in the waiting room. Additionally, labor rates, payment information, guarantees, and fees should be posted in the front office. Also look out for any plaques or certificates naming awards, community projects, or BBB affiliation as a mark of an honest repair shop.

Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Auto Mechanic

Though many Americans depend on a safe and reliable vehicle to get around, it’s also a big investment. And, while maintaining your vehicle with regular servicing and tune-ups can go a long way to extending its life, finding an auto mechanic you can count on may prove to be a challenge. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 66% of U.S. drivers don’t trust auto repair shops in general.

Ask Your Neighbors, Family, and Friends

When you’re searching for a mechanic to work on your vehicle, you may feel tempted to go with a brand name or franchise name that you know. However, a local family-owned auto shop that’s dedicated to good customer service as a means to build the business that supports their family, could be just as good or even better.

Pay Attention to “Auto Experts” in the Media

Does your local newspaper or television news station have a local auto expert? If so, give their business a call when looking for a knowledgeable auto repair shop. Even though they may not offer the lowest prices in the area, if the area media are willing to showcase their knowledge, chances are they know cars. So don’t choose your mechanic based on price alone.

Check With the Better Business Bureau

Although most mechanics are honest and most auto repair shops are trustworthy, every year there are some that leave customers less than happy. In 2016, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 10,000 complaints against auto repair companies.

Look for AAA-Certified Shops

More than 7,000 repair facilities across North America have the distinction of being an Approved Auto Repair (AAR) Facility, as accredited by the American Automobile Association (AAA). An AAR shop meets the strict professional standards of the AAA for customer service, facility appearance, and staff qualification and certification, and may be a good place to start when you need a new auto mechanic.

How to choose the right auto repair shop

To many, our cars are an extension of ourselves. We take pride in the 30 minutes we take to make sure she has had a good wash. We work hard to make sure we can put 91 octane in our babies because that’s what they deserve!

Call Around

If the mechanic answering the phone won’t give you the time of day, speaks to you in a way that makes you seem like you don’t know what’s going on with your own vehicle… it’s probably best to just hang up the phone now. How this conversation goes is a sneak peek to how your whole auto shop experience will be!

The Work Area

Would you take your children to daycare without seeing the classroom? Of course not! You want to be able to see the workspace where your vehicle will be at. Disorganization, mechanics standing around, general laziness are not good signs that you’re a top priority on their to-do lists.

Shop Reviews

This is a MUST! What kind of experiences have other folks in your area had? Are they continually expressing the concern of one person or problem? Is the auto repair shop responding and taking responsibility for any wrongdoings that may have occurred? The combination of all these things can show consumers how well the business is being taken care of. You should also look to see if a company has customer testimonials too!