Auto Repair Industry

Tried to flag you but you have been given tokens to prevent that (just kidding, watch and wait, with a gleaming scimitar clutched tightly in my yellow teeth(4th tower of inverness reference)). Cars are much like computers in that what you learn is probably out of date once you try to apply the knowledge, in the most current models. That being said there are tools to learn and deal with what you have not learned yet, and that is the difference.

Mark’s comment about how little respect mechanics get made me laugh. I worked at a community college for 17 years. We offered associates degrees in automotive technology as one of our major programs. I was sitting having coffee with a group of liberal arts professors once, and one of them who had spent his entire career teachng liberal arts pontificated about how “the automotive students need to take more liberal arts electives. It teaches them how to think.”. I was stunned. Overpowered by the ignorance. It takes more analytical ability to diagnose just about anything on a car than it takes to pass any liberal arts course I ever took. And it takes far, far more ability “to think” to pass the ASE exams at the program’s end.

Yeah, there are people that don’t give mechanics any respect. There are ignorant people in all walks of life. Ignore them. If you believe that automotive technology is something you want, than go for it. One thing’s for sure, automotive repair won’t be shipped offshore!

I can’t speak for anybody else, but I for one have a good deal of respect for pro auto mechanics. I think the job requires everything about a job that is hard to do: responsibility, common sense, study and training, persistence, curiosity, analysis and diagnosis skills, forthrightness, organization, hard work ethic, timeliness, and, perhaps the hardest part, customer relations. When you are dealing with anybody who can walk in off the street, and the problem is their car, which they need to be working to be able to make money to pay their bills, well, you know pro mechanics are going to have a lot of “interesting” days.

I wish more people saw things that way

You do meet a lot of “interesting” people and have a lot of “interesting” days doing auto repair. One of the worst kinds of people are the ones who won’t leave you alone and rush you. I used to work with a guy who lost a finger to a Ben Pearson pipe bender because he was distracted by a customer who would not leave him alone. I’m sure the customer would have gotten his car back sooner if the mechanic could have concentrated more on his own safety (and not been seriously injured) rather than making sure the customer wasn’t doing anything dumb in the shop.

The physical part of auto repair is not that bad. It’s the mental strain of trying to sort out problems while having that flat rate Sword of Damocles hanging over your head being the part that beats someone down.
If those liberal arts professors only knew…

To me, ASE and factory cert tests were not that difficult. The most difficult written test I’ve ever taken was the FAA test for my aircraft powerplant license. That test had 3 sections with each requiring a 70 to pass and was 40 something pages with a 6 hour limit. The first time around I failed and failed miserably; only scoring around 50 on each section. The fact that everyone else failed except for one guy was no consolation. It was emotionally crushing to work hard and sink like a rock.

After X number of additional hours and requisite number of days which had to elapse before a retake, a road trip to the FAA center was made and I took it again; this time passing with scores in the 90 range. The controlled breathing and meditation must have worked… :frowning:

My advice for the OP (Harland) is to get as much education as he can, now, while he’s young. It will only get more difficult as time goes on.

At his age, I too “LOVED” working on anything mechanical (cars, trucks, you name it). However, time (including working in a dealership) has a way of sobering that idealism. As I got older, my passion for working on cars diminished, and my ageing body is getting in the way as well. Few escape this.

I feel fortunate that I went back to school for another discipline while I was still young. As has been noted, the more diverse your skill set is, the more employable you’ll be.

Harland: The wealth of replies you got in this thread are from a deeply seasoned and experienced set of folks who are passionate in their interest to help. Take all their input seriously.

There are mechanics…and then there are MECHANICS.

I’ve known some people who’ve been mechanics for over 30 years…and couldn’t diagnose a problem if their life depended on it. They could rebuild a motor…or transmission…but it they didn’t put it back together just right…they could never figure out what the problem is. Some people have the ability to work with the hands very well…but NOT the ability to work with their mind.

IMHO the best mechanics need to do both. You’ll find varying degrees in mechanics skills throughout the industry…just like in any other industry.

One of my favorite episodes in Big Bang Theory.

The Sheldon, Howard, Lenard and Raj had entered the robot round robin invitational. And they needed to upgrade their robot. But Howard their engineer/mechanic wasn’t around (he was distressed because of something Penny said to him).

So Sheldon (the extremely arrogant Caltec physicists) said - “We don’t need Howard. Engineering is just the slower cousin of physics.”

So he walks over the work bench and says - “Does anyone know how to open the toolbox?”

Maybe a good piece of advice would be “don’t paint yourself into a corner.” Try to keep options open and learn to manage your money and your time so that if and when a job becomes drudgery you can afford to move on to other opportunities.

Don’t stay at a job you hate, no matter what. I did. My dad lectured at us a lot, not to quit a job if you could avoid it. I worked in a high-tech factory, and some people would give anything to have such a job. But, after 20+ years of the same old politics, I learned to hate it. I stayed the last ten years for family security.

That part came out okay. But, for years after I retired, I had recurring nightmares about the place. Now, they are gone, and I am still in good health. Life is good now.

Those who have been there on flat rate can relate… :frowning:

Good one. Although it’s been a while since I worked flat rate, some of the scenarios in that video definitely brought back memories.

Once again a long over due response with my hectic schedule (gotta love third shift laying down patties at McDonalds!). Did sign up for diesel (figured if anything I could do HVAC as specialty), though I’ve done some calling around to some shops and found out that even with just my HVAC and Electrical Systems diplomas I’d still be a candidate for some spots (not just auto repair industry). Gonna apply around a bit before doing anything to drastic, I still have about a month in the current term left.


I think you’re taking the right first steps

Hitting the books is ALWAYS the right decision

Some years back I had an opportunity to meet with a few owners of HVAC shops to ttalk about the industry. One hing they pointed out is that they have a hard time keeping techs in the industry. They pointed out that these guys spend too much time on call and fighting snowstorms in the middle of the night to get to people whose furnace shut down. Those things are worth it if you have good pay, great benefits and a great pension, but shops in the HVAC industry are typically too small to offer those thing. It ain’t what the TV ads show.

You might want buy a few HVAC techs before deciding where to invest your money. You may decide to do that anyway, but try to find out the industry’s eccentricities first.

@ db4690 Indeed. Got to meet with some of the other students in Diesel when I took my car into get the AC check, sounds like a good program and by the looks of it a wide variety of things to do.

@ the same mountainbike True true true. Like with cars the commercials show everything being clean and neat and damn near everything going by the books and it just ain’t true. Mostly in Ottumwa (were I live) the HVAC companies are small and local owned, though there is one big contractor that has GREAT PAY just gotta see if I can get on. Nearest town to Ottumwa with larger HVAC industry is Des Moines and I can’t get half the certs I need around here to join them (mainly NATE). Only other issue with DSM is the crime rate and traffic, lol.

Allow me to commend you for having an exceptionally good head on your shoulders. Few young men of your age displays the marurity, insight, planning, and vision that you demonstrate. Whatever you decide to do, you have a good future ahead of you.

Sincere best.

True true true. Like with cars the commercials show everything being clean and neat and damn near everything going by the books and it just ain't true.

I have a nephew who has a 4 year degree in HVAC. I didn’t even know you could get a BS in that. He worked for a few HVAC companies…then he landed his dream job. He now works for Carrier Air-Conditioning as a test engineer. Works in a nice lab testing new systems…along with the competitors.

Since your new job gives you more time, have you considered arranging a brief apprenticeship (just a few months) at a shop? This would give you insight into whether the job’s a good fit for you before you spend the tuition money . Also, apprenticeships are a common way to become an auto mechanic. If you like it enough you’ll know to go for it and you could apprentice this in addition to or instead of your schooling. Plus apprenticing could get your foot in the door and get you collecting customers early on.

@the same mountainbike

Thank you. I’ve seen a lot of people who have taken my path (GED, got it a year before I wold have graduated HS) drop through the cracks and do nothing with their life beside just make it by or some that have talents and just never get seen because they don’t have the “back ground” to get into their industry. Needless to say I want to change that, long term (like waaaaaay later in life) I’ve actually considered teaching (rather that be sub or college level only time will tell) so I can encourage the future generation to want to work and change the world.


What college? I’m only getting a diploma/certification (from college and EPA). Sounds like your nephew has gone far in the HVAC industry.


not a bad idea, there is a small shop down the road I’m thinking about calling up along with a few others.

Another little update with this, putting off actually changing jobs until I get my neck taken care of. Will be seeing doctor on Monday and hopefully getting injections to stop the pain.