This section of
“Sam’s Garage” is
dedicated to providing consumers and “Do-it-yourselfers” with inside
information, describing in detail
“What It Takes” to
diagnose and repair today’s complex vehicles.
I would like to
take the liberty here to describe what I feel like is an important subject.
Of course it’s near and dear to my heart, and I’m referring to what it takes
to be a true automotive professional.
A skilled and experienced mechanic is
worth his or her weight in gold. To be successful and productive, the
current day automotive mechanic is more than a technician. He or she is the
closest thing to a scientist. They have to know how an engine breathes, how
it utilizes the air/ fuel mixture to convert heat energy to mechanical
In addition to knowing engines, they
must understand complex automatic transmissions, vehicle drive train
dynamics, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, wiring, audio,
video, upholstery, and weatherproofing, just to name a few.
They must be knowledgeable in
electricity and electronics, computer logic and function, pneumatics,
hydraulics, and possess a working knowledge of the incredible number of
intricate systems found in late model vehicles.
Can you name another tradesman or
technical professional that is expected to know and understand all these
With the ever growing number of safety
systems like Traction Control, ABS brakes, Dynamic Vehicle Stability
Control, Intelligent Air Bags, Smart Seat Belts, and even Anti-Whiplash
Headrests, the modern era automotive mechanic has more responsibility than
ever to do the job right.
Years of experience, countless hours of
technical training, and enough tools to supply an emerging third world
nation are all part of being a professional mechanic that can provide the
necessary services and repairs vehicle owners deserve and demand.
You will probably notice by now that I
have called these incredible people “Mechanics”. “Technician” is the buzz
word adopted a few years ago in an attempt to raise the status of mechanics.
The change from “Mechanic” to “Technician” may or may not have improved the
consumer’s perception of true automotive professionals, but I personally
like mechanic better.
Anyone can be taught to perform certain
function utilizing a manual, and proper training. That is a “Technician”
Technicians may be great for computers, copy machines, washers and dryers,
and other consumer products, but it takes a real mechanic to properly
analyze and repair a complex vehicle.
A mechanic is someone who can use his
or her skills, experience, and training, coupled with a great deal of
deductive reasoning to properly diagnose and analyze a problem.
Correct diagnosis is critical to
performing the right repair the first time, with lasting results. So bear
with me as I refer to myself and those whom I have the utmost respect for as
Being a mechanic is a tough job, with
less than ideal working conditions even in the best service centers.
Mechanics are exposed to all kinds of unpleasant vapors, fumes, and
irritants. They work in a wide variety of weather conditions, physical
contortions, and are expected to make a machine that they didn’t design or
build, perform to the owner’s expectations.
I chose my career path as an automotive
mechanic, and never looked back. For over forty years, being a professional
mechanic has provided me with a solid lifestyle and a tremendous sense of
satisfaction every time I made a broken car work again. Only those on the
inside can know exactly what I mean.
My goal here is that you might read
these stories, and look at the pictures that chronicle each event, and walk
away with a better understanding and greater appreciation for “what it takes
You might also ponder these questions;
Here are some of my answers to
consumer’s questions about how to locate a good mechanic.
Always ask friends and relatives where
they go and check out a shop’s references. If a shop won’t provide you with
solid references, they aren’t worth a second look. Good shops are proud of
their achievements! Check with the Better Business Bureau, and use your best
My next suggestion applies when you
find a service outlet with mechanics that you feel can meet your automotive
service needs, form a bond with them. Most good service shops will allow you
to request a specific mechanic to work on your vehicle. Now it becomes a
Get to know that person and take the
time to show them how much you appreciate them, and all they do to keep your
vehicle safe and dependable. In my opinion, the most critical part is to
develop a mutual trust. This kind of relationship can pay you big dividends
when it comes to reliable, affordable automotive service.
I hope you will derive some useful
information from each article we post in this segment of Sam’s Garage.