Most people don't
realize what it takes to diagnose and repair today's
vehicles. If they did, their perception of the person
who fixes them would be a lot different.
An automobile technician's
job is to find and repair things that the vehicle
manufacturers haven't perfected, the laws of nature have
destroyed and the forces of motion have worn out.
Technicians must have a good working knowledge of the
technologies found on ALL motor vehicles in order to
diagnose and repair them. That range of knowledge,
skills and insights is probably greater than what is
possessed by most people, yet many still perceive that
automotive technicians work with their hands and not
their heads. So for all people who still harbor this
perception, here is a dose of reality. The first step
in solving the qualified automobile repair technician
shortage is understanding the vast amount of skills,
knowledge and training required in order to attain
qualified technician status. Below are some of the
skills and knowledge a qualified technician uses every
day to diagnose and repair a vehicle.
technician must be:
- Part mechanical
engineer, with an understanding how internal
combustion engines, mechanical systems and thermal
dynamics work and how laws of physics and motion
cause parts to mal function or wear out.
- Part chemical
engineer, who can identify fluid contamination and
it's source, and an understanding of how the
oxidation process uses carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen
to create new compounds and how to use that
information to diagnose an engine malfunction.
- An expert in
hydraulics and pneumatics in order to diagnose
brake, transmission, ride-leveling, power steering,
air conditioning and vacuum controls correctly.
- Knowledgeable in
basic geometry and algebra, which is required to
Wheel alignment, suspension repair and evaluating
abnormal tire wear patterns.
- An accomplished
electrician that tracks down and repairs not only
open and short circuits, but also identifying values
that are not within a specific range for a specific
condition and finding the cause.
- Computer literate,
with a sound knowledge of software and internet
application in order to operate today's
sophisticated diagnostic equipment and on-line
- An expert
mathematician who can interpret readings on gauges,
dials and micrometers and can machine or adjust
parts to specific tolerances.
- Proficient in both
the Metric and SAE systems of measurement and be
able to convert both systems in their head (a skill
that most people have not yet achieved).
- Knowledgeable in
and able to explain State and Federal consumer laws,
especially when participating in State Inspection
- Able to read and
comprehend detailed repair information written at
must also use their senses of sight, smell, hearing and
touch to find the source of problems. As they go
about diagnosing problems, they must analyze inputs,
outputs and symptoms on a vehicle they did not design
and do not use on a daily basis.
In addition, the
average qualified automobile technician owns about
$20,000 worth of tools paid for out of their own pocket,
must update project knowledge every year, usually works
in less than pristine conditions, gets maligned
constantly by the media and has his or her ethics
challenged on a regular basis.
And when it comes to an
automotive technician's personality profile, the public
demands the patience of Job, the compassion of Mother
Teresa, the honesty of Abe Lincoln and the speed of
Flash Gordon but cannot understand why that technician
should earn more than the pizza delivery man.
Is it any wonder
why there is a shortage of qualified technicians?