Jobs of Career Specialists Working in Automotive Companies

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Often a person will be a specialist in one or more disciplines within the field. For example, an alignment specialist may be a brake specialist as well. A rare breed of technicians will devote their entire careers to a single area and excel in it as few others can. But it is often advantageous to specialize in at least two areas to be sure that there will always be some work to do.


Before a used car is sold, it is usually cleaned up to make it more attractive. The person responsible for this work is usually known as a detailer. He or she often steam cleans both the engine and the underbody. The detailer also may wash and wax the exterior, vacuum the interior, remove stains, and clean soiled upholstery. The cleaning specialist uses a variety of chemicals to restore the interior and exterior to make the car more appealing to buyers.

The detailer also may pick up and deliver cars to customers or to service technicians in the shop and may test-drive the vehicle after it has been serviced.

The detailer must work independently. He or she usually needs a driver's license but little formal training. There are plenty of chances to observe other work being performed, and with initiative and a desire to learn, the person in this job may advance to another area of service.


Brake specialists are expected to understand fully the braking system of the automobile. Motorist and passenger safety depends on proper operation of the braking system, and brake specialists have a grave responsibility. People's lives are in their hands.

Today's brake mechanic must understand both, the drum and disc braking system as well as the parking brake system and hydraulic system. Computer-controlled antilock brake systems are popular and will be even more so in the future.

The basic job function involves inspecting and replacing brake shoes and disc pads. The brake specialist uses a lathe to machine perfect surfaces on both drums and rotors (discs) and must use micrometers to determine if the parts are serviceable and able to be reinstalled on the vehicle. The brake specialist not only inspects them for wear but also uses tools like a dial indicator to determine if the parts have any lateral or radial run out. This requires precision and attention to detail.

Brake specialists also must understand the principles of hydraulics. They inspect for failures and related problems and rebuild wheel cylinders, calipers, and master cylinders in the braking system. They also inspect and troubleshoot the control devices in the system, such as the proportioning valve or metering valve, which control hydraulic pressures to the different positions of the braking system.

The brake specialist is expected to replace hydraulic fluid lines and hoses when leaks are found. Much like a plumber, he or she makes new lines from stock and bends and joins them to make safe unions with existing parts.

He or she also diagnoses problems and repairs them in the power boosting units, which may be operated by engine vacuum, hydraulics, or in the case of some larger vehicles, air brake compressors.

Before releasing the vehicle to the customer the brake specialist adjusts the brakes, bleeds the system, and road tests the vehicle to be sure it is safe.


Although one may specialize in only radiator and heater core repair, a growing number of technicians are becoming cooling system specialists who service the entire system. The engine cooling system is complex and plays a vital role in overall vehicle operation as well as emission control. The cooling system functions not only to keep the engine temperature at a specified level, but it also doubles as the heating system for passenger comfort.

The radiator specialist traditionally cleaned and repaired radiators and heater cores by soaking them in a caustic bath and physically rodding them out, which involved passing thin rods through the tubes to remove any buildup of corrosion or sludge. Today's radiator or cooling system specialists find themselves using new techniques and tools to service the system.

The cooling system specialist services the entire cooling system and diagnoses causes of overheating like restrictions in the water jacket of the engine, the cylinder head, or head gasket, or problems such as cracked blocks or defective core hole plugs.

Cooling system service represents a substantial investment in equipment to service all the parts and to repair or rebuild them. However, the cooling system technician may work for a shop that supplies all the necessary large equipment, and the technician may have to supply only basic hand tools.

Although cooling system service does require training, it is usually less than many of the other areas of specialization. Most of the work is done indoors, but one of the greatest health risks is from lead poisoning due to the quantities of solder used for radiator repair. In newer shops, this risk is reduced to a minimum by sophisticated air-purifying systems and safety practices.
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