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Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.   Show Details

Duties

Automotive service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Test parts and systems to ensure that they are working properly
  • Identify mechanical problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Test and lubricate the vehicle’s engine and other major components
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including oil changes, tuneups, and tire rotations
  • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads and wheel bearings
  • Disassemble and reassemble parts
  • Use testing equipment to ensure that repairs and maintenance are effective
  • Explain to clients their automotive problems and the repairs done on their vehicles

Service technicians work on traditional mechanical components, such as engines, transmissions, belts, and hoses. However, they must also be familiar with a growing number of electronic systems. Braking, transmission, and steering systems, for example, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components.

Other integrated electronic systems, such as accident-avoidance sensors, are becoming common as well. In addition, a growing number of technicians are required to work on vehicles that run on alternative fuels, such as ethanol and electricity.

Service technicians use many different tools, including computerized diagnostic tools and power tools such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, welding torches, and jacks and hoists. These tools usually are owned by their employers.

Service technicians also use many common handtools, such as pliers, wrenches, and screwdrivers, which generally are their own. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection.

Service technicians sometimes specialize in a particular type of repair that may be subject to specific regulations or procedures. For instance, those focused on air-conditioning system repairs must follow federal and state regulations governing the handling, recycling, and disposal of refrigerants.

In some shops, technicians may specialize. The following are types of service technicians:

Automotive air-conditioning repairers install and repair air conditioners and service parts, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. They are trained in government regulations related to their work.

Brake repairers adjust brakes, replace brake linings and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems. Some technicians specialize in both brake and front-end work. 

Front-end mechanics align and balance wheels and repair steering mechanisms and suspension systems. They frequently use special alignment equipment and wheel-balancing machines.

Transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. Extensive knowledge of computer controls, the ability to diagnose electrical and hydraulic problems, and other specialized skills are needed to work on these complex components.

Tune-up technicians adjust ignition timing and valves and adjust or replace spark plugs and other parts to ensure efficient engine performance. They often use electronic testing equipment to isolate and adjust malfunctions in fuel, ignition, and emissions control systems.

For information about technicians who work on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians who work on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

For information about technicians who repair and service motorcycles, motorboats, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

Bus Drivers

Bus drivers transport people between a variety of places including, work, school, shopping and across state borders. Some drive regular routes, and others transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours. They drive a range of vehicles, from 15-passenger buses to 60-foot articulated buses (with two connected sections) that can carry more than 100 passengers. Show Details

Duties

Bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Check the bus tires, lights, and oil and do other basic maintenance
  • Pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations
  • Follow a planned route on a time schedule
  • Help disabled passengers get on and off the bus
  • Follow traffic laws and state and federal transit regulations
  • Follow safety procedures to make sure they and all passengers are safe
  • Keep passengers informed of possible delays

The following are examples of types of bus drivers.

Local transit bus drivers follow a daily schedule while transporting people on regular routes along the same city or suburban streets. They usually stop frequently, often only a few blocks apart and when a passenger requests a stop. Local transit drivers typically do the following:

  • Collect bus fares, sometimes making change for passengers
  • Answer questions about schedules, routes, and transfer points
  • Report accidents or other traffic disruptions to a central dispatcher, and follow directions when using an alternate route

Intercity bus drivers transport passengers between cities or towns, sometimes crossing state lines. They may travel between distant cities or between towns only a few miles apart. They usually pick up and drop off passengers at bus stations, where passengers buy tickets. Increasingly, intercity buses are using curbside locations in downtown urban areas instead of stations. Intercity drivers typically do the following:

  • Ensure all passengers have a valid ticket to ride the bus
  • May sell tickets to passengers when there are unsold seats available
  • Follow a central dispatcher’s instruction when taking an alternate route
  • Help passengers load or unload baggage

Motor coach drivers transport passengers on charted trips or sightseeing tours. Their schedule and route are generally arranged by a trip planner for the convenience of the passengers, who often are on vacation. Motor coach drivers are usually away for long periods of time because they usually stay with vacationers for the length of the trip. Motor coach drivers typically do the following:

  • Listen to and sometimes address passenger complaints
  • Ensure the tour stays on schedule
  • Sometimes act as tour guides for passengers
  • Help passengers load or unload baggage
  • Account for all passengers before leaving a location

School bus drivers transport students to and from school and other activities. On school days, drivers pick up students in the morning and return them home or to the designated bus stop in the afternoon. School bus drivers also drive students to field trips, sporting events, and other activities. Some drivers work at school in other occupations, such as janitors, cafeteria workers, or mechanics, between morning and afternoon trips. School bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Watch traffic and people carefully to ensure the safety of children getting on and off the bus
  • Take care of the needs of children with disabilities
  • Keep order and safety on the school bus
  • Understand and enforce the school system’s rules regarding student conduct
  • Report disciplinary problems to the school district or parents
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