A Typical Day For An Auto Mechanic

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Just like many other jobs, being an auto mechanic is a pretty dynamic job. It is a far cry from the “punch the clock, do the same task, then go home” type job. Because of that I want to talk about what an average day looks like.

At my dealer we are all general service mechanics. That means we all do every job in the shop. Some shops will have a transmission guy, the one that rebuilds all the trans missions. Or the diagnostic guy. They will figure out the problems with cars, then send it to another tech to make the repair. I prefer the setup that we have. It keeps the day interesting. It is common to do an oil change on a car, then diagnose a check engine light, them do some tire work.

An average work day may go something like this:

  • Perform a 10,000 miles service on a newer car
  • Oil change, rotate tire on a 2008 VW
  • Diagnose a check engine light
  • Perform a 20,000 mile service on a newer car
  • Oil change
  • Oil change, rotate tires
  • Oil change, state inspection,
  • 40,000 mile service
  • Replace a headlight bulb
  • Replace a tail light bulb

This number of cars in a day would actually be fairly busy. That does not account for things that we find wrong with cars when they come in the shop. Things like worn out wiper blades, brakes and light bulbs are the most common things we find when cars come into the shop.

As I go back and read that, it would be a pretty good and easy day. On the not so typical days, anything can happen. Last week I spent almost the entire day diagnosing a 2013 Jetta hybrid that would randomly shut off. The next day I wrote up 2 estimates that totaled almost $18,000. That is not something I a bragging about. I do not like writing those type of estimates. One of those cars was a 99 Passat that had been neglected. The other was an 09 EOS. It had an issue with the top not opening properly. It was actually the first time I have seen an EOS top fail mechanically.

That is pretty much want a standard day as a VW tech looks like. Of course if I had to pick a perfect day, it would involve doing jobs that pay really well. Some might say that would get boring and they may be right. But as much as I love doing what I do, I go to work everyday to earn a paycheck. 😉

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28 replies
  1. Richard
    Richard says:

    $19K! Woof, that would be a very difficult pill to swallow. At that price, the vehicle would need to be worth well over $40K+ simply not to be totaled, right?

  2. Aaron
    Aaron says:

    I am an auto tech student, I am working part time at a national chain independent shop, the days we have are very similar to that only we see alot more makes and models since we are not a dealer. It is a nice format IMO to not be a specialized tech, keeps the day moving most days when you don’t know what your next job is going to be. I have seen guys going from doing a valve job on a sub compact to cutting and welding the exhaust on a HD Ram. Fun stuff.

  3. PPI
    PPI says:

    You sound like an honest guy, and it’s no fun for an owner to get a big bill like that, but if the car has been neglected that’s what happens. At the end of the day you’re helping people.

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      Thanks for all the comments today @PPI!
      Writing up estimates like that never feel good. Even when a car has been neglected, it stinks. It bums me out to see a VW in bad shape.

  4. Igor
    Igor says:

    As someone who works in a transmission repair shop my life isn’t too different (as if one could qualify a difference). At least you don’t have to deal with the 80 lb transmission shipping. Its important for me to do a good job for my customers so they don’t feel ripped off since auto repair can get costly at times.

  5. Du146
    Du146 says:

    I want to go to school for diesel mechanics however I’m on parole. How much of an issue would it be for me to get off a few hours a month to report?

  6. Ian
    Ian says:

    I have two questions do you know any good performance mechanic jobs? My other question is do you like your jobor like getting up every morning to go to work. I like working on cars and I might become a mechanic

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      Like to work on cars? That’s great! But I am no recruiter… It’s hard work and well.. After schooling and tools and years of experience, there are better ways to become rich.. For me I like doing engine diagnosis.. I can tell what is wrong on a car that runs rough or not quite right. I never wanted to get into suspension and brakes or ac.. But I needed a job, so I end up working at a transmission shop, then a used car dealer, now I’m working on semi trucks…
      And I’m still not getting paid enough to buy my own house..
      You have to love working on everything and not get frustrated when someone else gets all the jobs that you would like to have, even if you are more qualified .
      With this being said I’m looking to start my own business soon, buying and fixing then selling cars. But in an honest way. I’m not looking to be rich, by just happy and content. Do me a favor and really look at what you want in life.
      Go do an engine swap on your car and get halfway through and start another job, then another. Then find that a few bolts are stripped and won’t come out, or your parts are discontinued. These are just common things that can happen at any time.. Like I said think about what you want in life and think about what you need to be happy. When there a will there is a way, period…

  7. Josh
    Josh says:

    Was wondering if working on cars can lead to back pain im bout to get out the military and go to school for automotive and diesel tech but i have a buldging disk and wont to know if i should still try it

  8. Maria Gracia
    Maria Gracia says:

    If we enjoy working on cars and are looking for a new career path, consider enrolling in a career training program to become an automotive technician. There are many types of programs in the field.

  9. James Borst
    James Borst says:

    My wife’s car has a check engine light that has come on a couple of times this week so we’ve been considering bringing it to the shop. It is interesting that you do all of those things in addition to wiper blades, brakes and other things common in the shop. We may consider going to the shop for a possible auto repair.

  10. Chris Pederson
    Chris Pederson says:

    I had no idea that a mechanic typically finds worn out wiper blades or lights that are about to burn out. My car needs an oil change before I go on a big trip to Iowa for Thanksgiving. I’ll see if they can fix any minor repairs too like the wipers.


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