Skills Needed to Become an Auto Mechanic

Written by wanda thibodeaux
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Skills Needed to Become an Auto Mechanic
Attention to visual details aids mechanics in diagnosing vehicle problems. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Each of the vehicles on our roads has to work properly for it to be of benefit to a driver. This is where auto mechanics come in. Auto mechanics are responsible for finding and fixing problems with cars, trucks and other vehicles. These professionals rely on basic skills to do their job.

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Language and Communication Skills

Auto mechanics frequently must refer to technical manuals associated with different makes and models of vehicles. They must have a reading comprehension level high enough to decipher these complex texts. Additionally, auto mechanics rely on their listening and speaking skills to interact well with clients. Good communication establishes provider-customer trust and thus is essential in the field, as auto mechanics constantly must fight the negative stereotype of being less than honest. Communication also helps mechanics interact with vendors and manufacturers.

Auditory Skills

Auditory skills are perhaps the most important skill for a mechanic when he is working directly with a vehicle. If a mechanic listens carefully to how the vehicle sounds in operation, he often can locate the general area of the vehicle causing a problem. The best mechanics can listen and identify particular parts that are acting up. The way a vehicle sounds also tells the mechanic whether the vehicle has been fine-tuned properly.

Subject Skills

On the job, auto mechanics use math to a great degree. For example, they measure the size of mechanical belts or the gap on spark plugs. Math also comes into play when a mechanic reads vehicle schematics or mixes auto fluids. Because mechanics deal with chemicals like washer fluid, gasoline, oil and cleaning solvents, they also must know some chemistry and how the physical properties of those chemicals contribute to vehicle operation. They should know the scientific breakthroughs that reduce vehicle wear and tear and improve driver and passenger comfort. Because vehicles increasingly rely on computerised systems, mechanics also need to be comfortable with technology -- many diagnostic machines are used on the job. The ability to understand and work with electricity also is important because all vehicles rely to some degree on electrical circuits.

Diagnostic and Critical Thinking Skills

Sometimes a mechanic doesn't have all the pieces of a vehicle repair puzzle, with a single symptom pointing to more than one possible problem. Auto mechanics have to rationalise about what problem is most likely given what they do know about the make and model of the vehicle, the history of the car and the parts the car uses. They diagnose the problem and troubleshoot. If they are wrong, they have to go back and start over until they figure out the source of the issue. This requires mechanics to organise the potential problems mentally and pull up knowledge they've gained in the past.

Observation Skills

Just as the sound of a vehicle tells mechanics about what could be wrong, so too does the vehicle's appearance. Good mechanics can spot basic problems like worn hoses through visual inspections. The best mechanics can locate less obvious problems like pin-sized holes in radiators or gas tanks.

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