Inspiring career-oriented interest among potential employees and subsequently recruiting properly trained candidates are among the key workplace challenges cited by owners of aftermarket businesses. Lauren Gaglardi is president of Beelineweb, a British Columbia, Canada-based firm that serves as a comprehensive resource for students seeking education within a wide variety of occupations.
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She reports that a team of in-house writers and researchers regularly compile practical information and advice pertaining to training and employment opportunities, which are made available through its website https://www.trade-schools.net, including details about joining the auto repair industry:
Q: What are the typical job duties?
A: Routine inspections on parts and systems from various vehicles are performed to confirm that they are in good working order. These inspections are crucial, because when small tasks go undetected they can snowball into major repairs or even potential safety hazards.
From brakes to cooling systems to lights, there is a wide range of components that must be examined and tested. Some inspections can be done visually, but they also often require the mechanic to take note of the smells or sounds that a vehicle is making. Additionally, complex electronic equipment is used to test electrical and computer systems.
Depending on the results of these inspections, further steps may be required to replace worn parts, top-off low fluids or take care of other issues.
In addition to routine inspections, maintenance tasks are commonplace in order to help ensure that vehicles are running at optimal efficiency and to manufacturer specifications.
This work can include oil changes, lubrications and tire rotations as well as transmission or coolant fluid flushes. Vehicle maintenance can range from quick and simple to involved and time-consuming, but it is always an important aspect of the job.
In the past, “tune-ups” were a key maintenance task that would fall under this section. However, as the automotive industry continues shifting toward vehicles that are controlled by complex computer systems, these tune-ups have become essentially unnecessary. Sensors throughout a vehicle can now monitor virtually all systems and components and indicate when there is an issue requiring attention.
In order to carry out this challenging and often-complicated work, mechanics must know vehicles – including their individual components and systems – inside and out. They must be familiar with computerized diagnostic equipment and prepared to manually troubleshoot any issues. This can include test driving a vehicle, visually examining the suspected area of trouble, and carrying out other methods of investigation.
Once the problem is understood the mechanic must explain it to the vehicle owner and estimate the time and cost of the repair. They must ensure that the necessary parts are on hand and then carry out the work. Repairs can range from changing a small part (such as a belt or a hose) to replacing or rebuilding an entire engine or transmission.
Some mechanics will even specialize in a particular component or vehicle system, which can allow them to obtain a high level of expertise in a certain area of repair.
Common specialties can include:
- Exhaust systems
- Air conditioning systems
- High performance engines
- Steering and drive trains
- Tires and wheels
- Alternative fuel systems
Q: What kind of training will I need?
A: Many employers look for automotive mechanics or technicians who possess a certificate, diploma or associate degree from an accredited school. They also tend to prefer those with ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification.
Typically, automotive technology programs include both hands-on and theoretical training in order to provide students with the practical skills and understanding necessary for working in a shop setting. The details of various manufacturers are often covered, along with shop practices, safety, and more.
Some of the specific course areas can include:
- Automotive parts and systems
- Engines and drivetrains
- Automatic and manual transmissions
- Air conditioning and heating
- Troubleshooting, diagnosing, and servicing electrical and mechanical systems
- Performing oil changes and lubrications
- Working with electronic diagnostic equipment and systems
- Optimizing engine performance
- Correcting vehicle wheel alignment
- Business and administration
- Service operations
- Cost estimates
- Repair order writing
- Warranty policies
- Personnel management
- Business management
- Customer service
Plus, most programs include an internship or practicum component, which can allow you to gain valuable practical experience within an actual automotive repair business.