Teen looking to get into auto repair


I don’t know if this is an acceptable place to seek help but I’m just gonna try. For context I am a current highschool senior who will graduate within the next four months. As community college is looking like the only career opportunity, I’m becoming interested in auto repair as a career and hobby. I don’t own a car and no members of family have ever been in the field, which I know sounds strange, but I really want to get into the car world. So for my questions, do any of you know a good way to get into auto repair or car modifications? Any books or other types of materials would be extremely helpful. Also are there any first time cars you would recommend to learn repair/modding from? Thanks in advance for your time.


I really don’t know anything about the field but a week or so ago there was an article in the paper from the Mercedes dealer in Minneapolis talking about how hard it was to get technicians. MB had a program where they trained the folks for less than a year in their tech school and afterwards got a job at the dealer for I dunno $50-70K depending on performance. At the high school here they have been pretty successful with Ford. So I guess start talking to a few major dealers in the area see what they have to say. But go for either manufacturers tech schools or public VoTecs, not the for profit ones.


Speaking as a retired high school counselor who worked with students seeking both college and vocational education, I strongly recommend community colleges for the type of training that the OP is considering. I also caution him to avoid the private for-profit vocational/career schools as they are almost always over-priced diploma mills with poor, outdated equipment and extremely poor job placement services.

The community college to which I directed many of my students has a 2 year Associate Degree program in automotive technology, and they have affiliations with at least two manufacturers. Students can choose to affiliate with either Ford or Toyota, and they are given a paid part-time job at a dealership while they pursue their training. As their knowledge base and skills expand, their responsibilities at the dealership also expand. The graduates of these programs are guaranteed a full-time auto technician job at a dealership upon graduation.

If the OP searches diligently, he is likely to find a similar program at a community college in his area.


Your community college is the place to start. Our CC, in Florida they are state colleges, offer classes leading to certification.


Community college will give you all the knowledge necessary to be an accomplished and profitable mechanic. The rest is up to you. I always say: in order to be a great mechanic and earn good money, 10% is schooling 80% is experience, and 10% is learning from the best. But you can not do well if you don’t do them all. They are all necessary. You can start by doing oil changes, tune ups for friends and stuff like that. Finding any car that is preferably 2005 or newer to tinker with might be fun, but if you are going to play, be prepared to not drive it for many periods of time. Hook up with freinds that work on cars and help out. Just remember that you will learn a lot, but many things you will have to unlearn if your friends aren’t in the trade. Reading forums like this helps alot too, but remember that people posting results on forums are very limited on information about specific issues, causing them to travel in many directions that wouldn’t be travelled if they had full access to the vehicle. Many things on line to help you learn if you need out the junk. Another thing about reading posts is that many people use them because all else failed, so many times it seems more complicated than it really is.


And depending on where you live, there might be a non-profit tech school as well. Around here, the community college bends more toward liberal arts and medical programs, and there’s a public technical college which deals in the trades. You’ll need to do your research where you live to figure out where to go.


I don’t work in the auto repair field but got a lot of information from an instructor, I think actually department head, for automotive repairs for Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), about being a good auto mechanic. This advice is somewhat old but I doubt it is dated.

The first piece of advice was to not do what he did. Which was to drop out of school at age 14. The days of learning on the job are over.

At the least graduate from community college. You will need to spend your career learning. You just don’t need the basics but be sure that you know how to learn.

This person spends much of his time instructing dealer mechanics. The amount that needs to be learned about fixing and maintaining new models each year is astounding. This includes learning new diagnostic tools.

Hopefully your community college has a solid program for your future career.


If you want to be a repair person that is fine . As for Modding ( I really don’t like that term ) modifying vehicles should be way down the list after you have learned enough to make a living.
Doesn’t your present school have a councilor or a librarian that might help you research that places near you ?


That said, if you learn to modify vehicles, and you’re good at it, you can make a killing.


I have a nephew who just did this. Community college is one way or a trade-school. My nephew went to a trade-school. 6 months of school and training in the shop, then another 3 months as an apprentice. He now works at the dealership he did his apprenticeship at.


Wow thanks for all the insight, as for schools near me there’s a community college that’s always talked up by my high school and counselors( http://www.cod.edu/programs/autotech/career.aspx ) but there’s also a trade school that states it has connections to Audi for students and further programs upon graduation that’s offered by BMW and mini( https://www.lincolntech.edu/campus/melrose-park-il/programs/automotive-technology )


Either one of those looks good. Try to talk with any graduates if you can.


A quick google of Lincoln Tech shows that it gets pretty bloody terrible reviews. I’d be leery about going there. For-profit schools often overpromise and underdeliver.


Looks like you’ve got a good lead on community college paths.

In my area (Northern VA) it is also a “Technology center” school which high schoolers can attend every other day instead of other classes to learn one of specialties they have, auto-mechanic is one of them, maybe you have something like this in your area. Ours works for last 2 years in the school or for recent graduates for a nominal fee, education quality is on-par with community college.


After 35 years of dealing with Lincoln Tech and their perpetually disappointed (and usually unemployed) graduates, I have to caution the OP against considering that incredibly-overpriced diploma mill. I always tried to steer students toward the excellent FREE training at our county vocational schools, but some of them were lured by the BS spewed by the commission-earning reps from Lincoln Tech. To their credit a few of my former counselees came back to see me, to say essentially… You were right, and I should have listened to you.

The most common complaint–aside from difficulties in getting a job with a Lincoln Tech diploma–was that there were so few tools, and so little equipment, that they were often forced to observe other students for days at a time, rather than being able to get the hands-on experience that they wanted and needed, and for which they paid BIG bucks.


Since @VDCdriver has experience with Lincoln Tech, I’d listen to him.


The COD program looks good. I bet they have connections with various employers, I’d make an appointment to talk to somebody at COD to discuss career opportunities.


Thank you, Mike.
Just as I wouldn’t question your expertise in computer technology, I think it would be wise for the OP to believe me when I state that, in my 3 decades + as a HS Counselor, I had only negative experiences with Lincoln Tech.

A couple of years before I retired, that company bought a small family-owned computer technology education firm in NJ that had a very good reputation. Within short order, they were able to destroy that school’s status by firing the instructors of many years experience, and bringing in people who knew essentially nothing. That computer tech education firm went out of business a few years after Lincoln bought them, but in the process, they managed to take a lot of money from a lot of students, and give them little or nothing in return.


Lincoln Tech is a “for profit” school. I would steer clear of them. They will promise you the world and will take your money. Beyond that, just read the news for how for-profit colleges have been treating their students.

I would listen to VDCdriver’s first hand input.


… and yet, Betsy DeVos, the US Secretary of Education, wants to give those schools an even greater opportunity to loot both the wallets of students and the Pell Grant Fund. But, I guess that this is to be expected from an “educator” who has zero experience in the field of education, and who made her millions from AMWAY.

Could anyone possibly doubt the veracity or the sincerity of the AMWAY folks?