What Does a Car Mechanic Do?

A car mechanic performs a variety of services related to cars and trucks. Their duties include inspecting the condition of vehicles, diagnosing malfunctions and performing repairs or adjustments. They use their eyes, ears and hands to examine vehicles and may employ special test equipment like engine analyzers, compression testers, voltmeters and ohmmeters. They must be able to read and interpret data from the vehicle’s computer systems as well.

Many people begin their careers as car mechanic by attending vocational or trade school programs that focus on auto repair and maintenance. These programs typically last from 12 to 18 months and lead to an associate degree or certificate. Other people enter the field through apprenticeships with local auto repair shops or car dealerships. Some auto manufacturers, such as Fiat Chrysler, have their own apprenticeship and training program called the Mopar Career Automotive Program that works with community colleges and trade schools to train new technicians.

Mechanics must be able to work on all kinds of vehicles, including gasoline and diesel powered ones, as well as electric and hybrid cars. They need to be able to identify and diagnose problems, such as engine misfires, slipping transmissions, faulty lights or unusual noises. They also need to know how to fix these problems, which requires working knowledge of electrical systems, engines, transmissions, brakes and suspension.

The rapid pace of technology change has forced even seasoned mechanics to continually upgrade their skills. For example, a simple job such as changing tires on a modern vehicle can be complicated by sensors in the wheels that monitor tire pressure and temperature, which require specialized tools to access and replace.

Auto mechanics often need to stand for long periods of time and may be exposed to dust, greasy tools and fumes from chemicals used in bodywork. They must be physically fit and able to lift heavy parts or equipment. They also must wear protective eyewear and clothing to prevent injury from sharp edges or metal shavings.

If you have a problem with the service provided by an auto repair shop, talk to the manager or owner first. If you cannot resolve the issue, contact your state’s consumer protection agency or small claims court for help.

Before you leave the shop, always ask for a written estimate before having any work done. Compare the estimate with the original estimate from the manufacturer, and be sure to understand any extra charges or warranties that may apply. Check the shop’s customer satisfaction rating and review the terms of any warranty on the work performed.

If you have any concerns about the quality of service at an auto repair shop, contact the state consumer protection agency or your attorney general’s office for help. These agencies can refer you to alternative dispute resolution programs in your area, or you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. However, filing a lawsuit is a costly and time-consuming process that should be avoided whenever possible.