Anyone whose car or light truck has broken down knows the importance of the jobs of automotive service technicians and mechanics. The ability to diagnose the source of a problem quickly and accurately - a most valuable skill - requires good reasoning ability and a thorough knowledge of automobiles. Many technicians consider diagnosing hard-to-find troubles one of their most challenging and satisfying duties.
The work of automotive service technicians and mechanics has evolved from simply mechanical to high technology. Today integrated electronic systems and complex computers run vehicles and measure their performance while on the road. Automotive service technicians have developed into diagnostic, high-tech problem solvers. Technicians must have an increasingly broad base of knowledge about how vehicles' complex components work and interact, as well as the ability to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and computer-based technical reference materials.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics use these high-tech skills to inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles and light trucks with gasoline engines. The increasing sophistication of automotive technology now relies on workers who can use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components, while maintaining their skills with traditional handtools. Because of these changes in the occupation, workers are increasingly called "automotive service technicians," and the title "mechanic" is being used less and less frequently.
When mechanical or electrical troubles occur, technicians first get a description of the symptoms from the owner or, if they work in a large shop, the repair service estimator who wrote the repair order. To locate the problem, technicians use a diagnostic approach. First, they test to see if components and systems are proper and secure, and then isolate those components or systems that could not logically be the cause of the problem.