Career Story: Automotive Repair Technician

Automotive Repair Technician

Job Title: Automotive Technician

Type of Company: Repair, diagnose, and service cars and light trucks

Education: diploma, Vinal RVTS (Middletown, CT)

Previous Experience: I have worked in many shops. Some were dealerships and some were independents

Job Tasks: When the day begins I get a repair order -- a piece of paper with the customer's brief description of why the car is in the shop -- from the service advisor. A typical repair order is: "Check engine noise when the car is cold." But the first thing I do with any car is to perform a visual inspection of its overall condition (tires, fluid levels, body damage like cracked windshields). After this I bring the car in the shop or take it on a road test, depending on the nature of the problem. Once in the shop I complete a 25-point safety inspection, checking out most of the car from the engine to the chassis. Only then will I attempt to confirm the customer's complaint (engine noise). After running diagnostics, I write down on the repair order the correction for the concern as well as any other suggested repairs found on the safety inspection. Then I price for parts at the local parts store and estimate the labor charges. The service advisor calls or contacts the customer for approval at this point. But if the estimate is okayed, the repair is made and the car is road-tested and given back.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I am a flat rate worker. This means that every job given to me has a pre-determined time the work will take. A water pump for a Toyota would be 3.5 hours, for example. If it actually takes me 2 hours to replace it, I still get 3.5 hours pay. However if it takes me 5 hours, the 3.5 hours pay doesn't feel so great. Flat rate is great when the work is plentiful but when the work slows down the hours billed are lower.

Job Tips: In the automotive field a strong knowledge of electrical wiring and an understanding of electronics will help you advance to the next level faster. Everything today is controlled or monitored by computers -- in the cars themselves, of course, but even in the repair shop. Automotive technology can change drastically from year to year as well as manufacturer to manufacturer. This takes ongoing training and research on your own time and money sometimes. Start buying the tools to properly repair and diagnose cars as soon as possible. I have been buying them for 17 years and still need a lot of them.

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