News

Why Being an Automotive Mechanic is Awesome!

Published on May 31, 2012 under Humble Mechanic

After Tuesday’s post, I feel like I left a black cloud hanging out there. It is so dang easy to focus on the negative parts of the this industry. We often lose sight of some of the awesome parts. So today, I want to talk about some of the awesome things about being a mechanic. Fair warning, this might be some random thoughts straight from my brain. That usually lets folks see who A.D.D. and scatter brained I can be. Hold on tight ๐Ÿ˜€

Knowledge
While may of us mechanics get overwhelmed about the amount we need to know, we forget how much we really do know. It does far beyond just engines and transmissions. It it little stuff, like VW moved the side turn signals to the mirror for the 2004 and 2005 Passat. Strange right? Or the password to recode instrument clusters on MK4 cars was 13864. Don’t worry, I am not giving away and top secret info/ ๐Ÿ™‚ How about that fact that lug bolts and oil drain plugs are the same size and thread pitch.

Mechanical Mind
Being a mechanic really hones the mechanical mind. Putting a car back together days after you take it apart is REALLY hard. The years of seeing how parts fit, and don’t fit, give mechanics a get eye for fitment. Being able to fit parts together is something that ALL mechanics get good at. It might be as simple as turning the wrench around to access a bolt.

Funny story~ One of the guys in the shop was taking off a fuel sensor. I walked over just to see what he was doing. He looked kinda frustrated. He told me that he could not get the wrench on the sensor. This is a job that he had done before, so it was not a matter of know how. I laughed and said, “Hey man, turn the wrench around”. He looked at me and said “WOW, I am dumb”. He turned the wrench around and took the sensor off. We both had a good laugh at him..

Side Work
One thing that can be both awesome and awful about being a mechanic is side work. We mechanics have lots of tools(more on that in a minute). That means that we can do work outside of the shop. It can be a pretty good gig from some people. Get paid in cash, enjoy a beer while you work, not be really pressed for time. It can be a good way to make a couple of extra bucks.

The bad side is, your non mechanic friends will want you to “hook them up” on getting their car fixed. It can be frustrating at times. I don’t really do side work. For one, I just don’t have time. Also, it is not really worth it for me. The liability is really high. I will help my friends out when they need it, but that is usually a good time. I know a few guys that make tons of money doing side work. Just another perk of the job.

Tools
Now we are talking! I LOVE tools. Spending time on the tool truck shopping is my favorite part of Friday. Yeah to some spending $400+ on a set of wrenches, or $250 on 1 ratchet my seem crazy. To me it is great. One of the coolest things is finding a tool that will cut the time of a job in half. That tool will pay for itself in not time! This also means I can work on a project car at home. I just load up my tool bag and bring what I need home.

You need a 5.5mm socket, I got it. 1/4in drive stubby 5mm Allen with a ball end, YEP! A 36in pry bar, Oh YEAH! Part of me really thinks that the love of tools is why guys and gals become mechanics. Can you blame them?

RESPECT, Trust, and Appreciation
Most of the time when you hear “auto mechanic” and “respect” together it is negative. You can make a really good case that people tend to not respect and appreciate this profession. But let me tell you something. ANY and I really mean ANY time someone asks a mechanic for advise, it is because they respect you! When a customer hands their keys over for me to work on their car, they trust me to do the right thing. When someone says “Charles, should I make this repair?” or “Do you think my car is worth fixing” THAT my friends means so much to me.

It means that customer trusts me to help them make a choice. A choice that can affect them for the next 5 years or more. Remember, a car is the 2nd biggest purchase most people make. When someone is asking me for help. I take that to heart.

Your customers, coworkers, and boss will not tell you everyday how much they respect what you do. But trust me kids, they do! Understand that a mechanic is the MOST valuable person in a dealership or repair shop. Think of how much money my dealer has spent on training me and the boys that I work with. The average cost of one training class is around $700. That is for each mechanic, at least once a year. That is no joke, and not an amount to sneeze at. That training is NOT just for the customers. It is NOT just so the dealer can say “We have factory trained technicians”. It is a perk of the job. If a mechanic leaves a dealership, they take all that knowledge with them. Tell me how that is not AWESOME!

See, being a mechanic ain’t all bad. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know my job isn’t perfect, but it is a heck of a lot better than some jobs. Did I miss any perks of the job? Oh, I did, sometimes customers bring cookies,or the really rare(and my favorite) a nice craft beer or home brew. Ok, now did I miss any perks of the job?

If you think that being a mechanic is awesome, go ahead and share this post. It means a lot to me when you do.

Tagged: , , ,

42 Comments

  1. Alex@iHeartEuro

    Hey, Charles.
    I think one of the huge benefits is that fact that you can repair your own car (or even better build a project car yourself). If you let a shop do it – it can cost you five figures, when you do it yourself, you’re just cutting your weekends short. Sure, you invest YOUR valuable time on repairing or building your own car, but as you already mentioned – at home, with a cool beer and music of your choice it should actually be pretty fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jeremy

    I’m actually pretty sure I wanted to be a mechanic because I love using tools lol. Every week I wait for tools to go on sale so I can start up my collection. Right now I use the ones I have a school. I love sicking my hand in places with a wrench or using an air gun and die grinder to get through my firewall (I ended up finding a place to drill and pass the power wire for my sub/amp)

    I also sometimes get overwhelmed with the stuff I’m going to need to know. My teacher said that we shouldn’t worry. It is all stuff we will learn when working. School prepares us with the basic knowledge and the work place is were we actually learn everything. And then I think about how I started school in March and how much I have learnt since then. It is amazing

  3. Garrett Craven

    The pleasure for me comes from the feeling i get when a project/upgrade/repair is done. I feel like ive cured a sick child or a helpless creature. Knowing without the work ive performed that marvelous machine wouldnt be running at 100% or even at all! It really makes me proud and happy! Unfortunately most of my friends and family dont enjoy or understand it the same as i do…they see a car or machine as a device just to get from here or there. I see it as if it almost has a soul lol cuz ive seen some cars with a nasty attitude! Haha unfortunately i havnt been lucky enough to go to school for it or be a mechanic full time but the time i spend workin on my car and at work is better than not at all!

  4. Chris

    “Part of me really thinks that the love of tools is why guys and gals become mechanics.”

    Guilty hahaha. The knowledge section really made me think. I’ve only been in the field for about a year now, and when I think about how far I’ve come, it blows me away. A year ago, I couldn’t have told you what engine was in my truck. Last week, I helped install a crate engine. Never could have imagined!

  5. Craig

    i am in high school and i have been thinking a whole lot about what kind of job i want to have. i love cars and being a mechanic was one of my choices that i was aiming for. im still not sure if i know what i want to do but after ready this, i know that i would love being a mechanic. it already sounded like a perfect job for me but this has persuaded me even more. thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Charles

      Hey Craig,
      Thanks for coming by the site. Glad I could shed some light on being a mechanic. If you have any questions about the industry, please ask.

      It is really cool to know you are interested in being a mechanic.

      There are a few guys in the community that are currently in auto tech school. I am sure they would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about that. I can help too, it has been a while for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Darryl

        @charles – Hey Charles!
        I am a big fan of your youtube podcasts and I think you’re encouraging me too to become a mechanic. I love cars and it gives me boost everytime I do a minor ‘mod’ or fix something with my 91 celica. Recently I applied at a college, i got accepted for a automotive technician program and an IT (Web design program). Im stuck between the two right now, i’m leaning towards the mechanic route but I hear a lot of negative things about it can you enlighten me about this? And I was alao thinking If I choose to go into IT I can own my own company then fuel my passion for cars and racing. Im really hoping for your feedback, im realky having a tough time. Thanks again!

  6. Kevy

    Agree with some points on this, but i have been a mechanic with LandRover now for 8 years. Yeah its great being on your feet all day and it certainly keeps you fit and keeps weight off you. But you will go home really tired every night, probably have to work a 6 day week, be hounded by people who arent mechanics about how long you are taking to do a job. You are belittled if you cant fix something within 1 or 2 hours, you will cut/injure yourself almost daily and the pay isnt great either. Stay in school kids

  7. Jarrett Hyatt

    I have wanted to be a automotive mechanic for awhile now. I love getting my hands dirty. I want to own my own shop sometime in the near future. I will work on everything for a small car to a semi. I found out this is what I want to do so I am! I can’t wait to get my own business up and running!

  8. Kenneth

    Charles,

    I am a senior finance major about to graduate college in the winter. However, I have been thinking very heavily these past few months about jumping into the automotive industry. I know very little about cars (that may be an overstatement) but I love them and I am intrigued about getting to know them.

    This article makes me want to do it more and more as I’m finding my office job to be very boring and would love something more hands on.

    I need some advice…Would it be a good idea for me to pursue autotech school after I graduate? Or is there another, less expensive way to learn while still working a 9 to 5? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

  9. James Thompson

    Being a mechanic, I can tell you that it can be both a rewarding and frustrating position. Also, it isn’t the same everywhere you go. I lived in small town Alabama and our shop (though it was small, too) struggled to keep our book of business up in running. I came across this article earlier today that I think goes well with this idea. It talks about why it is great to be an auto mechanic in Seattle. While I have never been to Seattle before, it certainly sounds pretty great. I currently live in St. Louis, another city that lacks any type of public transportation and we have loads of business at the shop I am in now. Though, I don’t think the view is quite as good.

    So, yeah. It can definitely be rewarding and your life could be completely different one city (or town) to the next.

  10. Arnold

    Hey guys am an aprentice and its my 3rd year now,being a teachnician is not easy it needs patiants and love.one thing is if you are mental and physicaly tired do not force your self you will a wrong thing.

  11. richard

    i finished high school one year ago and spent the last year jumping from course to course trying to find the right job for me. Because i was so unsure i wasted a whole year. recently i have decided to become an auto mechanic and start my course in 2 months. i was just wondering if im doing the right thing, i cant keep wasting time and i need to start making responsible decisions for my future. I do have a love for cars, but not a passion for fixing them.. is this a bad thing to have ?
    Will i learn to love it once i gain experience and knowledge or is it something that cant be forced. i do enjoy solving problems and side jobs are a bonus.
    so any advice or tips will help!

    1. Arnold

      it looks like for the whole year you were not sure what to do or study,jumping from one course to another.on the other side you said you love cars but not a passion on fixing them,well let me tell you something you have to love or like something before you understand how it works or how to solve it.i dn”t see that being a bad thing.
      this what i can only help you with.

    2. Jacob

      Hey, i’m basically in the same situation as you. Have you made any decisions yet? I’m still currently in my first year at my community college. Everyday i’m thinking a little more about going this way. Still unsure, but the temptation is definitely growing.

  12. OuterCry

    Hunter Kiss
    Dec, 19, 2013
    3rd hour
    Mechanic

    Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a mechanic? Well I can tell you the basics. First of all you need to be able to operate heavy equipment and drive. In high school you will want to take classes in electronics, automotive repair, computers, math and english. You will need at least a GED but you should go to college and take more advanced classes in automotive repair, computers, and overall just mechanics. Most employers require that candidates complete a formal postsecondary training program available at technical schools, community colleges and some dealerships and manufacturers. This paper will tell you enough to get you started on being mechanic.

    Being a mechanic isnโ€™t as harmless as many people may think. You can have chemicals spilled in your eyes, can get burned badly by many different parts of the car, you can get smashed by a car or even a tool and possibly even a flying car part. You also have to get under the car which puts stress on your whole body. Most mechanics that have been in the trade for a while have back problems.

    You need a certification if you are a mechanic that will be handling refrigerants. Or EPA. The CFC Certification #1 has to do with heat pumps, air conditioning, and water coolers. CFC Certification #2 covers high pressure appliances that use a refrigerant with a boiling point between -50 degrees C and 10 degrees C at atmospheric pressure. CFC Certification #3 covers low pressure appliances that use a refrigeration with a boiling point above 10 degrees C at atmospheric pressure.

    Data shows that in the year 2011 automotive mechanics made an average income of $38,560 yearly salary or $18.54 per hour. Only ten percent of automotive mechanics earned over $60,000 per year or $28.65 per hour. Job openings for mechanics are expected to grow up to 20% from 2010 to 2020.

    Training is something that takes place over time in the mechanic trade.most mechanics get the training from hands on experiences. To become a mechanic that works on planes and such you need to take schooling for over 18 months.You must get 18 months of practical experience with either power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.You must pass three types of tests: a written examination, an oral test, and a practical test.

  13. Anonymous

    Mechanic
    Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a mechanic? Well I can tell you the basics. First of all you need to be able to operate heavy equipment and drive. In high school you will want to take classes in electronics, automotive repair, computers, math and English. You will need at least a GED, but you should go to college and take more advanced classes in automotive repair, computers, and just overall mechanics. Most employers require that candidates complete a formal postsecondary training program available at technical schools, community colleges, and some dealerships and manufacturers. This paper will tell you enough to get you started on being mechanic.

    Being a mechanic isnโ€™t as harmless as many people may think. You can have chemicals spilled in your eyes, can get burned badly by many different parts of cars, you can get smashed by a car, or even smashed by a tool, possibly even a flying car part. You also have to get under the car which puts stress on your whole body. Most mechanics that have been in the trade for a while have back problems and knee problems.

    You need a certification if you are a mechanic that will be handling refrigerants. The CFC Certification #1 has to do with heat pumps, air conditioning, and water coolers. CFC Certification #2 covers high pressure appliances that use a refrigerant with a boiling point between -50 degrees C and 10 degrees C at atmospheric pressure. CFC Certification #3 covers low pressure appliances that use a refrigeration with a boiling point above 10 degrees C at atmospheric pressure.

    Data shows that in the year 2011 automotive mechanics made an average income of $38,560 yearly salary or $18.54 per hour. Only ten percent of automotive mechanics earned over $60,000 per year or $28.65 per hour. Job openings for mechanics are expected to grow up to 20% from 2010 to 2020. So i guess you can say, โ€œAs long as there are cars on the rode, Mechanics will be neededโ€.

    Training is something that takes place over time in the mechanic trade.most mechanics get the training from hands on experiences. To become a mechanic that works on planes and such you need to take schooling for over 18 months.You must get 18 months of practical experience with either power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.You must pass three types of tests: a written examination, an oral test, and a practical test.

    So if you look at all of the perks of being a mechanic. It seems like a decent job. But there are downsides like every other job. Like back problems, knee problems, the unpredictable customer, And of course the random injuries that happen every day. Ranging from a small cut, to third degree burns or worse. but that being said look at all the good things: can fix your car if it breaks down, always know what is wrong with your car when its not running properly, free experience, side jobs for extra money, its pays well, and have a lower chance of losing your job then most other jobs. But the choice is yours, you get to chose whether that is worth it or not.

    The person who posted this before is a friend and i asked him to. I wrote this.

  14. Alex

    I stopped reading this article when I go to the $ 250 ratchet part. You have to be an utter dumbass to spend that much money on 1 ratchet. And no single ratchet will cut your time down in half, or even a 10th.

    1. Richard

      Crazy bro. I spent $225 on my Snap-on 1/2 swivel head breaker bar/ ratchet. This thing does it all, breaks ANY nut or bolt loose with little to no persuasion. Sure, you can go on down to good ole’ Harbor Freight and get some comparable to it for around $30 BUT when doing so, you get what you paid for. 1. It ends up supporting some other countries economic system (not ours) 2. There are definitely BIG differences in how it was engineered and manufactured 3. There are differences in the profile, meaning my Snap-on can fit much tighter clearances, are much more of a precise tool/instrument when it comes to how many teeth it can grab in one swing if any at all. The fact the tool guy comes to me when I eventually do break it, not go back to the store or buy another 4. Lifetime warranty even if its from 1975 and no longer have that one, it’ll just be replaced with the new one 5.all of those things factor in to whether your gonna make 40hrs this week or 70hrs this week. Those tools are definitely worth every penny. Hell, I’d buy two of everything if I had it like that.

      Efficiency is the key to this business. How fast can I go with out forgetting something, how can do two things at once like draining the coolant and oil while putting air in the tires and rotating them. They you move around a car especially during inspections.

      You CAN make over $100,000 consistently per year. However, when you see guys like this, they usually dont play around when it comes to work. We find all issues with the car expeditiously and then prioritize them to the adviser on so that they in turn can (hopefully) be more able to sell the possible extra work. Usually premium brands pay more hours than other brands which also help. I myself work as a Mercedes Benz and most of the guys are paid roughly around $18-36hr. ALL of the guys, and I mean ALL, at the last Benz dealer I worked at in VA made $65,000 a year. Most of them were past the $78,000 barrier. I know because the service director showed me the potenial. Then I seen the hours chart. Of course the working foreman made 100hr on average a week by himself. He was GOOD but he also was fed. Still good money, main thing is be the best at what you do and you dont have to worry, the money ends up coming.

  15. david (australia)

    hi Charles,
    I read your article and it brought up some things i forgot about being a mechanic .. Ive been a mechanic now for 14 years i live in Melbourne Australia , and down here we have mobile mechanics which Im not sure if your familiar with , its basically a mechanic in a van equipped with tools oils filters etc, and we service maintain and repair vehicles at peoples workplaces and home, its pretty cool, but not suited to all mechanics especially being used to a hoist and workshop environment , also the weather can turn off a lot of mechanics from the idea as well. I have done mobile mechanics for about about 10 years , regardless weather mobile mechanic or workshop mechanic i think you definitely need the love and passion for cars and knowing how things work, patience is also another key factor, and one thing i will definately agree on is the love of TOOLS!!!!! LOL luv luv luv my tools! ..

    Anyways great read it sparked a little fire in me again to wanna learn more and more well done man!!

    DAVID from a land (DOWNUNDER) !!!! LOL

  16. kevin

    Great post man. I say that all the time about taking the knowledge with you. On any other job, if you leave you have to start all over again. As a mechanic if you’ve had enough, you can walk to greener pastures and pick up right where you left off. It means time is not wasted even if you feel like you’ve got a shitty manager or politics are not in your favor.

  17. Michael Kazy

    Hey Charles, I am a senior in high school and graduating soon and I have taken 2 years of automotive studies and wish to do this for a career, but I’m having trouble picking the right college to go to. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on where to go.

  18. Kyle Vega

    I love cars and love getting my hands dirty, im not to smart of a kid im in high school right now and fell in love with being in the auto shop and just having that vibe of being in a work spot. My parents want me to get a bachelors degree in something but I thought going to trade school is better instead of college what do you recommend because im really stressed about this?

  19. Christy Kirkland

    Humble Mechanic,
    Thank you for this page. I have been in the marriage counseling area for some years now and I have to say for some reason, I am choosing to call myself the marriage Mechanic. I get all the nuts and bolts, laborious work, and most of all questions of is it worth it or not? Most importantly, should we invest in the junk; should we spend this much money, and so on. BLUF: at the end of the day, after hours of work, like you said, “…helping people make the best choice for a huge investment” such as marriage is just as detrimental as having a transmission replaced when it will cost more than the car. I want to thank you for what you do and getting your hands dirty and seeing the worth in something, when others see nothing but scrap and metal! God bless you sir.

  20. samuel

    I am not a mechanic but a relationship officer with a savings and loans firm in Ghana, West Africa.
    I can of find out that I got passion for mechanics, Can someone assist me with opening an auto-shop in my town. Tema.

    Samuel
    Thanks

  21. tyler

    hey Charles, i’m a grade 10 who LOVES working on cars, for the next couple of weeks and past month I have been workin on a buick century and am wonderin what can I do to up the performance of the car?

  22. Thaddeus Butttmunch, MD

    Being a Member of the Jewish Tribe, and my late parents being a Caltech Scientist, and Julliard Musician, respectfully, (along with my love for the Good Life-lol) I was pushed into Medicine. I’m a semi-retired middle Age internist. I can’t complain. But I never LIKED-or was that Good-in my academic subjects, in High School or College. My Late Father tried to help me out. He meant well. But I went to a Foreign Medical School and lost Years passing separate and unequal exams, and also when practices simply wouldn’t hire me, despite being Board Certified.

    Where I’m going with this is that I wish I HAD learned a trade, such as auto mechanics or plumbing. My Dad didn’t think I had good enough “hands” for the former. I was a Geek for six years, and then a Slave for six years, and I’m kind of Bitter about the whole thing.

  23. Kobe

    I’m currently a sophomore in high school and was seriously considering being a mechanic and you helped me make my decision. It sounds like something that I would enjoy for my lifetime, you have made me more sure of myself. Question, is it better to go to community college for learning or somewhere like UTI? What is your personal opinion on where to go for best learning to becoming a technician? Thank you, looking forward to your response.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *