The standard 40-hour work week: average day, average routine and average pay, right? Not so fast – a car mechanic’s employment may follow the 40-hour work week, but a day in the life is exciting, active and versatile. Anything can happen in the day of a life of a car mechanic!
Car mechanics perform maintenance and repairs, as well as conduct diagnostic tests and inspections on a wide array of new or used vehicles. The unique part of this profession is that new challenges arise daily and there will never be a set-in-stone routine.
Wondering what exactly happens during a regular day on the job at an automotive shop? Read on for a glimpse into a day in the life a car mechanic.
Responsibilities of a car mechanic
The typical to-do list of a car mechanic is dependant on both the setup of the garage/shop, as well as the skills and specialities that a given individual possesses. Some shops employ mechanics to provide general services, including any or all preventative maintenance or repair services. This could include oil changes, brake and tyre services or general tune-ups. However, some car mechanics may choose to specialise in a particular area that connects to a specific role at a shop. Specialisations often relate to automotive technology such as electrical repairs, transmission services or air-conditioning. The most common responsibilities include being able to:
- Troubleshoot / test parts to identify problem sources
- Plan work procedures
- Write up estimates
- Perform basic care and maintenance (changing oil, checking fluid levels, rotating tyres)
- Perform repairs/replacements (brake pads, wheels, sensors)
- Communicate with customers
- Order parts
- Assist with warranties
- Schedule appointments
- Track inventory
A car mechanic’s morning routine
For car mechanics, the morning is the calm before the storm. This time is dedicated to the managerial tasks and set-up requirements that come with running an automotive shop.
Step 1: Open the shop
It’s an early morning every morning in the life of a car mechanic. Most shops are open and fully operating between 7:30 and 8:00AM, which calls for opening at least one hour prior. Morning preparation is crucial to starting off the day on a productive note.
Step 2: Go through messages
Before the whirlwind of the day begins, a car mechanic will start by going through any new or missed messages. Though many shops have a service manager, car mechanics may also need to communicate with customers, as well as with manufacturers or local partners to order needed parts.
Step 3: Assess vehicles on deck
As a means of convenience, it is commonplace for customers to leave their vehicles outside of the shop the night before their scheduled repair or maintenance. A car mechanic may need to ensure that all scheduled vehicles have been dropped off and may need to move them around to fit the day’s order of operations.
Step 4: Create a loose plan for the day
The final step of a car mechanic’s morning is to create a flexible schedule for the day, leaving buffer time for any unexpected drop-offs or problems that may arise. The mechanic may do this on their own or in collaboration with a service manager.
Business hours: Getting down and dirty
The job of a mechanic is ideal for those who are not afraid to dive into a car engine with bare hands and get dirty. It is likely that most mechanics will leave normal business hours feeling greasy, covered in motor oil and dust.
With each and every day bringing new challenges to tackle, car mechanics are always on their toes. In an average workday, the typical tasks of a mechanic could include:
- Diagnose a cheque engine light
- Oil change
- Replacing fluids
- Lubricating parts
- Rotate tyres
- Perform a 10,000-20,000 miles service
- Perform a 40,000 miles service
- Conduct a state inspection
- Replace headlight/taillight bulbs
- Plug a flat tyre
- Replace transmission
- Overhaul an engine
- Inspect vehicle engine
- Inspect mechanical/electrical components
- Inspect vehicle computer systems
- Fix suspension
- Update logs on work completed and noted issues
- Close the shop
Automobile owners in the UK take pride in their ownership of well-kept vehicles, as reflected through the fact that consumers spend an average of £695.39 on car maintenance every year. With such high demand, car mechanics are frequently required to work overtime. Some shops are open late or on weekends, which means some mechanics may be working extended hours, even on Saturday and Sunday.
The future of car mechanics: electric vehicle era
The continual shift toward vehicle electrification is picking up traction, which means the foreseeable future for the industry is undoubtedly going to revolve around EVs. Not only are standard electrified cars and SUVs rising in popularity, but groundbreaking technology has recently evolved to include electric trucks, vans and even long-haul vehicles.
So, what does this mean for car mechanics?
EVs should not be viewed as a threat to car mechanics. Rather, they should be seen as an opportunity for car mechanics to expand their skill sets to implement the new technology. Because vehicles are becoming increasingly more complex, it is crucial that car mechanics stay up to date on the most current developments.
As the automotive industry continues to progress, the next generation of car mechanics will bring knowledge and skills to the field that will help businesses to reach new heights. The day-to-day life of a mechanic may look different in the years to come, but this profession will always hold one fact to its core: no two days will ever be the same.
Drew Young serves as the Fixed Operations Director at Merchants Auto. He has over 40 years of experience managing auto dealer service and parts departments, ensuring that the best possible service is provided to customers, employees and vendors.