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There are dozens - perhaps hundreds - of individual competencies required to be an auto mechanic. In short, an auto mechanic should be able to diagnose, disassemble, measure, compare to specifications, replace needed parts, and reassemble an entire automobile. This includes performing these services on all subsystems of the automobile including engines, transmissions, axles, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), steering, brakes, suspension and electrical. This does not include body work such as body repair, frame straightening or painting as these services are performed by auto body mechanics.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has divided these competencies into 8 general categories. Their website at WWW.ASE.COM lists them all and has study materials which include sample test questions to show the aspiring mechanic what is needed in each category. These categories are:

  • Engine Repair
  • Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
  • Manual Drivetrain and Axles
  • Suspension and Steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical
  • Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Engine Performance

Base competencies for each category would include:

  1. Diagnosing each system by inspecting, measuring, using test equipment specific to the task and comparing the results to specifications
  2. Complete disassembly of the components of the systems
  3. Measuring and testing each component to determine if any need to be replaced or have some machining operation performed on them
  4. Selecting specific replacement components to meet specifications
  5. Reassembling all of the components in the system

Some of these tasks are performed by speciality shops. For example, most mechanics do not rebuild engines or transmissions. They remove them, send them to a speciality shop to be rebuilt, and install a rebuilt engine or transmission. Alignments are also usually sublet to speciality shops due to the cost of alignment equipment.

It is the employer that ultimately determines what his mechanics must be able to do. With the complexity of today's vehicles, few shops can afford all of the equipment needed to perform all diagnosis and repairs on all systems. Those that can usually have dedicated mechanics in the shop that do speciality repairs only.

If you want to become a mechanic, there is no better place to start than enrolling at a technical college with a good automotive program. They have all of the latest equipment and instructors trained by auto manufacturers to make sure that graduates have the qualifications needed to get a job.

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Q: What are the competencies for becoming a auto mechanic?
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