5 Most Important Auto Mechanic Skills
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- Auto mechanics must develop skills in areas like problem-solving, communication, and attention to detail.
- Mechanics don't need a postsecondary degree, but many complete non-degree training programs at a technical school.
- Auto mechanics need dexterity to complete their jobs.
Auto mechanics inspect and repair cars and trucks to keep them in optimal condition for driving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $44,050 in 2020.
Most auto mechanics complete a postsecondary training program before entering the workforce. Training programs typically last 6-12 months. Mechanics can also pursue an associate degree — which takes two years to complete — but it is not required.
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In the following sections, you can explore the auto mechanic skills that help professionals get ahead in the industry. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions about auto mechanics.
What Skills Are Needed to Be an Auto Mechanic?
Most people who bring their cars to a mechanic don't know what's wrong with their vehicle, other than the fact that it is not performing as it should. Auto mechanics must diagnose potential issues based on limited information from the customer.
Through problem solving, auto mechanics can determine which parts need fixing, which parts need replacing, and which parts should be left alone.
Strong problem-solving skills also allow auto mechanics to provide preventative maintenance. During preventative maintenance, auto mechanics find and repair parts that may become a problem if left unserviced. This saves the customer from dealing with additional problems down the road and helps the mechanic keep vehicles at peak performance.
According to Sherman Wright, an automotive mechanic with more than 16 years of experience, he has "developed the mechanic's ears, eyes, and nose" through years of problem-solving. "Being an automotive mechanic has also strengthened my problem-solving in other fields, like home DIY."
Auto mechanics regularly interface with customers. Speaking with customers helps mechanics understand and diagnose issues with a vehicle. Customers can also provide critical information about a vehicle's history — including details about previous issues and repairs — that may help explain current vehicle issues.
Strong communication skills are a critical component of an auto mechanic's abilities. These professionals must clearly explain vehicle problems, necessary maintenance actions, and repair options to people who may not know much about cars.
Wright reiterates the importance of communication skills. "I have been in several establishments where mechanics perform the repairs, but the explanation is never adequate for full comprehension. The ability to communicate the process of repairs is so crucial."
Mechanics can gain loyal customers by putting effort into their communication and customer service skills.
Attention to Detail
Auto mechanic knowledge and skills become more useful if professionals develop a keen attention to detail. When repairing cars, small changes can make a tremendous impact on vehicle safety and performance. Attention to detail helps mechanics fully repair diagnosed issues and find issues the client may know nothing about.
Without strong attention to detail, auto mechanics may send clients back out on the road with a vehicle that wasn't fully repaired — potentially putting that customer's life at risk. Customers appreciate mechanics giving extra attention to their vehicle, creating trust between the client and the mechanic.
Mechanics often deal with more than one customer in a day and must also account for longer repairs, which may take place over several days. Time management allows auto mechanics to manage and meet competing deadlines. Through strong time management skills, mechanics can schedule incoming appointments, account for potential deliveries of auto parts, and make sure customers receive their vehicles back on time.
Time management also helps mechanics estimate how long each repair will take. Customers want an accurate estimated return date for their vehicle. Auto mechanics must develop a thorough understanding of how quickly they can make repairs.
Auto mechanic abilities also include dexterity, or the ability to perform physical tasks with grace and precision, especially while using your hands. Auto mechanics must make many precise adjustments to mechanical parts within a vehicle. Too much adjustment — or not enough — may not repair the vehicle successfully or it could make an issue worse.
Mechanics often work in confined spaces, such as underneath a car. Even when working on a vehicle that has been lifted with a jack or ramp, these professionals may not have much room for movement. Auto mechanics must complete their repairs, including removing and/or installing parts, in small spaces.
Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Mechanic Skills
Are math skills needed to be an auto mechanic?
Yes, auto mechanics must understand basic math. For example, mechanics often use fractions in their work when determining the correct tools to use (such as wrenches). Mechanics must also understand both the American system of measuring and the metric system. Important auto mechanic skills also include knowing how to calculate torque and horsepower.
Does being an auto mechanic make you strong?
Upper body strength is important for many types of repairs. These professionals often lift heavy tools, use jacks and hoists, and remove or install bulky car parts. Aspiring mechanics should prepare for the physical demands of their chosen career and make sure they have sufficient strength, stamina, and dexterity to avoid injury and strain on the job.
Can I be an auto mechanic if I know nothing about cars?
People who know nothing about cars can become auto mechanics by completing a training program. Aspiring mechanics can take a non-degree program at a technical school, which typically takes 6-12 months. Students can also pursue an associate degree at a two-year or four-year college. Associate degrees usually take about two years to complete.
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