Schools Training

How to Become an Auto Mechanic, Then and Now

14 AUG 2012
Career Path : Automotive

In the past, a kid who wanted to learn how to become an auto mechanic simply needed to put in the hours, assembling and reassembling any kind of engine that they could get their hands on. Then, they needed to seek out a real garage willing to take them on as an apprentice. Today, anyone intent on becoming a mechanic needs to look into auto mechanic college. What’s changed?


The technology


In the past, cars were built so that the average person with an interest in mechanics could have a fighting chance of understanding them. Mechanical aptitude was the main skill required when it came to fixing cars. Not so for anyone becoming a mechanic today.


Today’s cars have a high electronic component. How do your brakes operate? Electronics. How does your safety cushion know to inflate in case of an accident? Electronics. And what does an auto mechanic college offer that backyard experimentation of old does not? Access to expensive electronic diagnostics equipment.


The toolkit of mechanics today is much bigger than that of old. It includes computers and other diagnostic tools. That is why anyone headed to auto mechanic college to learn how to become a mechanic had better have an aptitude for computers as well as for mechanics. Increasingly, becoming a mechanic involves electronics know-how.


Anyone interested in becoming a mechanic needs to secure access to the expensive diagnostics tools that form the backbone of today’s garages. One of the easiest ways to do this is to register for a program at an auto mechanic college, where all students can benefit from such sophisticated diagnostic tools as alignment machines and emissions testing devices. These are not tools that your parents have lying around the garage. Gone are the days when a mechanic could rely on their wits and their monkey wrench.


Today, becoming a mechanic involves mastering:


-          the dynamometer or “dyno” – an indoor road test for vehicles that can measure horsepower, torque and rotational speed, without leaving the auto mechanic college classroom

-          automotive lifts capable of raising thousand-pound vehicles into the air

-          strut tamers

-          brake lathes

-          wheel balancers

-          and more


When motor travel first took hold, those who wanted to learn how to become an auto mechanic also needed to learn how to become a good machinist. In many cases, it was up to them to produce their own replacement parts, or to repair old ones. Anyone enrolled in auto mechanic college today is more likely to receive training in how to maintain good relationships with parts suppliers: when something is broken, it is replaced with a brand new purchase. The auto mechanics of today no longer need to be good machinists.


Can you think of any other ways that becoming a mechanic has changed in recent years?



Visit CATI or more information on becoming a mechanic.