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Female Interested in becoming a Mechanic. Any adivce or info?

Workers comp stepped in on a few of them although it was debateable as to how those injuries even happened. The only one I can think of that could be directly attributed to mechanic work was the shoulder surgery. That injury happened with reinstalling a gas tank into a Subaru. The tank was empty/light but I just turned wrong, caught a white flash, and the arm dropped dead on me.

The others were covered to some extent by private insurance and I paid the balances due over time; as painful as that was financially.
A lawyer on the shoulder injury tried to get me at times to lay the rest of those problems on my employers by insinuating that if I were willing to claim even the tiniest bit of a problem related to my current job he could cash in for me. I refused to do it; that’s just not me.

I know what you mean about pushing cars. Every day it’s round up the other guys and shove them into the shop. Even worse, it sometimes involves pushing them back out when a customer doesn’t want a repair or wants to think about it for 2 weeks.

Here at my Ford dealer where I am a 30 year parts man, Vanessa is a diesel certified tech and has been here about four years.
She schooled in Phoenix first then came here as an apprentice under the wings of three different techs ; electical/tune-up, heavy line/engines/axles, diesel pickups.
She chose heavy pickups and loves it. From transmissions, axles, and engines to air conditioning, turbo chargers, etc.

male or female ;
At the dealer level techs are constantly schooled by Ford and upgrading their certifications.
There are tools and machines to do the heavy lifting for everyone.
Nitrile gloves are always on hand for everyone who chooses to wear them. In this 16 tech shop, 12 wear them on a daily basis.

Over the course of my thirty years here we’ve had just one other female tech but from my point of view it’s not a male or female thing at all.
If YOU like to do this work …do it.

One good way to get started without much base knowledge is the apprentice method. Many dealer techs can produce much more finished work with a helper. Usually this person is paid a set hourly wage even though the tech is on commision ( different dealers, different methods ) and the experienced tech is teaching you the whole time.
You get the ‘‘hands on’’ right away and gain the knowledge your aptitude desires along the way.

Ken see if you can send a picture of the machine that helps with removing the tires from pickups. I am not saying there is not such a machine but we had a hard time getting our Dealer to buy a car pusher mutch less a machine to help with tire removal.

I would go through 10 pairs of gloves a day minimum. Some Dealers would buy them some would not, no independants bought them. The cost is substancial when you buy from a store like walgreens (7.00 per 100 or so).

One per 30 has not change my sttistics at all. I never have seen AC included in heavy line before, just like I never saw the skids greased (under 3 techs wings?) like this before,someone wanted her in and made it happen.

There’s tools out there that we don’t have either. A car pusher ?..never heard of it, let alone have one that isn’t named Fred.
The tire machine is just a manual hoist. A four wheeled forked crank lift. You crank up the fork to rest the tire on , remove the lug nuts, and the tire just rolls toward you on this lift. you can leave the flat tire on it and roll it over to the mount and balance machine. ( few actually use it except to remove duallys as a pair. ) see myerstiresupply.com click on ‘wheel dollies’.

This dealership uses the apprentice method very often. I can look out in this shop and name five independent techs who began as apprentices. Vanessa is a local girl, divorced mother of one son who already went away to Phoenix to school, so maybe, just maybe, someone wanted to mainstream her in as a helping hand to independence.( it worked )

Multiple certifications help one to stay busy, so when there isn’t heavy line work the techs can do other things like a/c.

I just can’t see how to make time using this machine for tires. There is no way your going to compete with “Bubba” that can pick them off the floor and have them on the lugs in 5 seconds and auto mechanics is all about competing with your fellow employees (sometimes friendly,sometimes not so friendly)

The car pusher looks like a lawn mower with a big basket on it (filled with batteries and a motor). It has a beam across the front with a rubber pad. Using the pusher makes it so only two people are needed to bring in the largest truck. At my main Dealer you could be pushing 150 yards easy. It was hard to get 5 or so guys together to help you pus when it was 120F in that parking lot.

My idea on multiple fields is that it is fine as long as you do the warranty along with the gravy. I am retired now so it does not bother me so much any more.

Now putting a female employee on the “fast tracK” and giving her help that the male employees don’t get is the fertile breeding ground of resentment. Much worse than affirmative action. There is no-way I would train anyone, espically for free and even more, someone who would take a slice of available work. The three that trained her probably got something in return, like preference in dispatch, worse than a scab. Getting preference in dispatch will get me rilled, even now. Preference in dispatch is something that management claimed they never did, but they always lie, just ask the customers.

Yah, warranty is a given when you’re a dealer diesel tech. The F250-550 line come with 100k warranty and there’s lots of them out here. One of the most popular commercial work trucks. Mines, phone co, gas co, railroad, GSA motor pool, city, county and state fleets, constuction and other trades ,etc,etc. We’ve got heavy pickups out the wazoo over here and 80 % ( it seems ) of the work is warranty.

This 16 tech dealer has 5 diesel cerified techs and I don’t see any dispach preference from my parts desk.

I would not expect you(or any other “on the other side”)employee to say any different. I worked long and hard to move up very close to 50K in my best year 2002 but if I had a child all my money would be going to day care (and weekend and holiday care and extra hours day care) because I was never home. Tax man nailed me real good and then that tool man. My problem was being stuck at a low 15.50 per flat rate hour pay scale (and taxes)and being honest. Heck Meg Whitmans nanny got 23.00.

Ken, do you have any idea how these three training mechanics were compensated for the time they spent with the female mechanic? Perhaps they got to flag work dispatched too her. This would not be good as it took work away from a qualified mechanic. Fair would be to have her hourly and then let her watch over the shoulder of a flat rate mechanic that was also compensated (monetairly) not by prefered dispatch. This program should also be offered to everyone but here in AZ employers do not have to offer equal training benifits.

Regarding your question about how the training mechanics were compensated it may have been similar to what I went through when first starting out; at least as a dealership mechanic.

I had done quite a bit of mechanic work when I first hired on but not for car dealers. To acclimate me to how it’s all done they put me under the wing of a very experienced guy and paid me an hourly wage. The guy over me offered advice about procedures, both mechanical and the paper end of things, and he flagged the labor on the jobs I performed.

After a couple of weeks the trainer told my boss I was catching onto it pretty quickly. After about 2 more weeks, I asked the service manager to put me on flat rate and it was a done deal.
Welcome to the profitable and glamorous world of flat rate wrenching!

Did the guy that flagged your work accept responsibility for your potential comebacks? this would be normal.

My intentions with this kind of dialouge is to present our readers with a view of how a shop runs, perhaps with better understanding comes less conflict? maybe.

And you haven’t lived until you’ve calibrated a flux valve on the end of the wing of a KC135 in a high wind at -20F on the compass rose in Grand Forks. Or had to fix a “redball” on the flightline of a lined-up aircraft at 3:00am on a rainy, dark and dreary night…under pressure because the aircraft had to fly.

Aircraft mechanics isn’t a field, it’s an incurable addiction. It gets in your blood and never fully comes out again. But one has to accept certain, shall we say, negative aspects of the job.

By the way, civilian acft mechanics working for airlines or aircraft manufactrers are paid by the hour. Privates working on General Aviation (small planes) are either paid by their employer by the hour or can be subcontractors paid by the job. Either way, the tech must be FAA certified for what he/she is doing and the work must be signed off by the FAA inspector.

Yes, he would cover any screwups on my part but I was fortunate enough to not have any. It was about a year before I made a mistake and it was comparatively minor. It involved the rebuild of a clutch master cylinder and I caught it before the car went out the door so no harm, no foul.

(I discovered that my hands, which I thought that I had cleaned) were not clean enough. There were remnants of mineral spirits on my hands and this caused the master cylinder seals to swell up and go soft. The clutch worked great; for about 5 minutes or so after bleeding the system then it was adios.)

I will confess a BIG screwup. I was told to mount a starter relay (used for reluctant cranking with 6V VW’s) near the starter using some screws and some holes I was too drill. Well I found a good place and made one hole but as soon as I went through the piece I could feel it hit a second piece. Thinking it was simply a double wall (wrong) I drilled this piece also. Well it was the gas tank and now this VW Bus was leaking gas from a hole I could not reach. I had to pull the engine and trans while the gas was still dripping out. Probably the worst day of my automotive life, I was 18 at the time.

Fast forward about 30 years. I went with the Boss to a FORD Dealer here in Tucson and we were told to put a CD changer in the Crown Vic owned by the owner of the Dealership (this guy is pretty famous here in AZ so I won’t mention his name) Well the boss drilled the holes to mount the changer and we finished the job thinking all is well. This owner complained of a gas smell a few days after we finished the job so he put his car in for service. It turns out one of the screws was too long and pierced the gas tank. I actually felt a bit better about my screwup 30 years earlier because of this incident.

That stuff can be kind of funny to think about now but at the time it was not very humorous. Being a VW guy you’re probably used to armpit burn from gasoline running down your arm while. We used to tie a couple of shop rags around the wrist but even then it would get away from you sometimes.

The biggest screwup I made was replacing an alternator on a VW Rabbit. There was something odd about that car and the alternator but I don’t remember what it was. The part had to be special ordered and when it arrived we pushed the car into the shop.
It was discovered the alternator was incorrect so it was reordered. Push car back out.
Next alt. in and it was wrong. (Did not push the car in this time!)
Now I’m ticked because at this point it’s all non-paying time.

Finally the correct alternator arrived and we pushed the car back into the shop.
Still irritated over this going into the hole job I swapped the alternator out; followed a few minutes later by the alt. going up in smoke.
These alternators always arrived with NO cooling fan on them and due to my haste and bad attitude over this car I had simply forgotten to swap the fan blade over so it became barbecue pretty quickly.

Stupid mistake on my part and thankfully the boss did not hang this on me as that alternator was about 300 bucks and that was way back when.

I wish we knew that the OP was at least reading these tales of shop life. Early on in my automotive life one boss told me that there was an “issue” of some type with every car I worked on. I did not think that was fair (as it was only 9 out of 10). This boss ended up selling/trading a VW shop in Southern CA in 1974 for a sandwich shop. Well VW shops in CA at that time were gold mines and the sandwich shop went belly up so perhaps the issue was him.

There’s quite a lengthy list of occupantional hazards and daily irritants if the truth be known.
It’s no wonder why many mechanics make the cover of Psychopaths Monthly. :slight_smile:

Did “we” drink more than any other profession or does this happen in all? My feeling is that Yes, in the past auto mechanics did drink more, but I would not be suprised if statistics (if even available) did not support this belief

Check out current status of nursing, which has been a hot career. However, cutbacks on payment has caused some cutback on employment. Also, some nurses have chosen not to retire as planned, which has caused problems for nursing school graduates. Not sure right now, but a few months ago, there were problems.

Look into heating and cooling. There seems to be plenty of work, and not always under a car. Ditto on community college.

Many a tech school graduate finds himself billing a Ph.D. $80 bucks an hour.

One needs some business sense, and some ability to deal with the public, which will always be a limiting factor for some people, but you can find a lot of work in most places.

If you know little about cars, that says you have had little interest.
When I was 18, I knew a lot about cars and engines, etc. (Still not enough.)

You may lack the physical strength.
Your skin is not as tough as males.
You may develop skin fissures in your fingers that will keep opening and not heal.
You may hurt your hands.

Find something in which you have or had interest.