Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.
Automotive body and glass repairers typically do the following:
- Review damage reports, prepare cost estimates, and plan work
- Remove damaged body parts, including bumpers, fenders, hoods, grilles, and trim
- Realign car frames and chassis to repair structural damage
- Hammer out or patch dents, dimples, and other minor body damage
- Fit, attach, and weld replacement parts into place
- Install and weatherproof windows and windshields
- Grind, sand, buff, and prime refurbished and repaired surfaces
- Apply new finish to restored body parts
Automotive body and glass repairers can repair most damage from everyday vehicle collisions and make vehicles look and drive like new. Damage may be minor, such as replacing a cracked windshield, or major, such as replacing an entire door panel.
Repair technicians use many tools for their work. To remove damaged parts, such as bumpers and door panels, they use pneumatic tools, metal-cutting guns, and plasma cutters. For major structural repairs, such as aligning the body, they often use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks and hammers. For some work, they use common handtools, such as metal files, pliers, wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers.
In some cases, repair technicians do an entire job by themselves. In other cases, especially in large shops, they use an assembly line approach in which they work as a team with each repair technician specializing.
Although repair technicians sometimes prime and paint repaired parts, automotive painters generally perform these tasks. For more information, see the profile on painting and coating workers.
The following are occupational specialties:
Automotive body and related repairers, or collision repair technicians, straighten metal panels, remove dents, and replace parts that cannot be fixed. Although they repair all types of vehicles, most work primarily on cars, sport utility vehicles, and small trucks.
Automotive glass installers and repairers remove and replace broken, cracked, or pitted windshields and window glass. They also weatherproof newly installed windows and windshields with chemical treatments.
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.
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.