Learning the Automotive Trade and Moving Up

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Automotive technicians learn much of their craft on the job. Beginners usually start is helpers, lubrication workers, or service station attendants. Gradually, as they acquire more and more skills, they are promoted to more responsible jobs. Although some beginners may be making repairs of a light nature in as little as a few months, it usually takes three to four years to become proficient enough to do most of the common repairs. It may take an additional year or two to learn a specialty.

It usually takes three to four years to become proficient enough to do most of the common repairs. It may take an additional year or two to learn a specialty.

Most training authorities recommend three or four years of formal training and/or an apprenticeship program. Formal apprenticeship programs may be hard to find. Recently, automotive manufactures banded together to form education programs based on the European apprenticeship system. Since its founding in 1995, this Auto Youth Educational System program has grown to include some two hundred schools and dealership sponsors, and it's expanding in the United States and Canada. There may be a similar program near you. These training programs usually combine on-the-job experience with formal classroom instruction. Classroom instruction include courses in related theory, such as mathematics and physics, as well as such other areas as shop safety practices and customer relations.

For entry-level jobs, employers usually look for young persons with an aptitude for things mechanical and knowledge of automobiles. Usually a driver license is required since it is necessary to test-drive vehicles.

Getting your high school diploma is a big advantage in getting an entry-level job. Most employers believe that graduation indicates that a young person has least some of the traits of a good worker, such as perseverance and the ability to learn, and has the potential for advancement. Courses in automobile repair offered by many high schools also are helpful. In particular, courses in physical science and mathematics can help a person understand how an automobile operate

Technicians are expected to buy their own hand tools, and beginners are expected to accumulate tools as they gain experience. Many experienced technicians have thousands of dollars worth of tools. The employer usually supplies the larger power tools, specialty tools, and diagnostic equipment.

Sometimes employers send experienced technicians to factory training schools to learn how to repair more recent models or get training in some specialty like automatic transmissions or air-conditioning.


A technician's most valuable skill is the ability to reason things through based or thorough knowledge of the functions of the automobile. In fact, it is usually a source of pride and a feeling of accomplishment for the technician to diagnose and repair the most difficult and hard-to-find problems.

Whenever something malfunctions in the engine, drive-train, the electrical system, the technician first gets a description of the problem from the customer. If the technician works in a large shop or automobile dealership, the description may come from the repair order or the service adviser. It is the technician's duty to test-drive the car to try and determine the possible problem and attempt to narrow it down. He or she then returns to the shop and use; such sophisticated diagnostic equipment as engine analyzers, alignment equipment, compression testers, or gauges to try to isolate the source of the problem. Once the problem is determined, the technician must fix it Sometimes he or she will repair a component, and other times it will be replaced.

The general automotive technician performs a variety of jobs. Some prefer t
The tune-up specialist uses sophisticated equipment to make the engine run at its best. He or she replaces and adjusts the points on older vehicles or inspects an
The automobile air-conditioning specialist not only installs air-conditioning lifts, but also services and repairs them as necessary. The system must be charged on a regular basis, and occasionally parts like compressors, lines, evaporators, and condensers have to be replaced.

The cooling system technician cleans radiators with caustic solutions and locates d repairs leaks in radiators and heater cores. He or she also may repair gas tanks. The cooling system specialist tests and replaces thermostats, hoses, water pumps, d even a gasket like the head gasket, should it be found to be leaking.

Transmission and driveline technicians test and repair manual transmissions, itches, and differential assemblies, as well as drive shafts and universal joints.

There are plenty of other jobs that the general technician is expected to do. He she may be responsible for repairing squeaks and rattles, windshield wipers and washers, window regulators, exhaust systems, power windows, power seats, any number of other problems.
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