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.
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.