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How to become a Motor Vehicle Technician

motor vehicle technician careers

What does a Motor Vehicle Technician do?

Motor vehicle technicians, or mechanics, carry out service and repair of vehicles, MOT testing and engine conversions to liquid petroleum gas (LPG). They work for garages, manufacturers' service centres, freight, transport and construction companies, and vehicle hire and breakdown organisations. Technicians work in one of four areas:

Light vehicles
Working mainly with cars and vans, a technician uses a range of hand and power tools, and electrical testing equipment to carry out regular service checks on engines and components. On more modern vehicles, they use computerised fault diagnosis equipment, which connects to the vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) to identify problems.

Any defective parts are repaired or replaced, in line with manufacturer’s manuals and guidelines. Other tasks include tuning parts, MOT testing (see Training), and fitting and servicing accessories, such as radios and alarms.

Heavy vehicles
Technicians work on trucks, buses and coaches, earth-moving equipment, tractors, stationary engines (eg generators and pumps) and agricultural machinery. Many of the tasks are the same as those carried out on light vehicles. As heavy vehicle components are expensive, technicians aim to repair rather than replace parts.

Motorcycles
Motorcycle technicians examine, repair and maintain motorbikes. They use many of the same tools and procedures as light vehicle technicians. They also customise bikes to owners' specifications.

Auto electrics
Auto electricians find and repair electrical faults in vehicles. They also instal new electrical/electronic parts and accessories, such as car alarms, immobilisers and CD changers. Once again, their tools are similar to those used by light vehicle technicians. For more information about fitting electrics, see the profile for Auto Electrician.

What's the working environment like working as a Motor Vehicle Technician?

Working 40 hours a week is common, with overtime available depending on workload. There may be shift work, including weekends, and some garages operate an ‘on-call’ system. Some heavy vehicle garages only service vehicles at night.

Newer service centres are relatively clean and spacious, whereas conditions in older garages can be cramped and dirty. Although, lifting equipment and hoists are used, the work is still physically demanding.

When dealing with breakdowns, technicians may have to travel long distances and be expected to work in all weather conditions.

What does it take to become a Motor Vehicle Technician?

To be a motor vehicle technician, you should:

  • have an excellent knowledge of motor vehicle technology
  • have an aptitude for practical work
  • have good analytical skills to diagnose faults
  • be able to work quickly and pay attention to detail
  • be able to work without supervision
  • have good communication skills
  • be able to follow written instructions
  • be physically fit, with normal colour vision
  • keep up-to-date with developments, especially new engine types and electronics
  • be aware of health and safety regulations.

Motor Vehicle Technician Career Opportunities

Motor vehicle technicians work for small independent garages, fast-fit outlets - which carry out MOTs and basic servicing - large car dealerships, and haulage companies. Opportunities also exist with other organisations such as local authorities, the police, motoring organisations, large private firms and taxi companies.

There is a demand for highly trained technicians all over the UK. Due to the ever-changing technology involved in the car industry, many workers undergo further training. There may also be the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of mechanics, such as tyres, clutches and brakes, or specific make of vehicle.

Promotion is normally to senior technician and then supervisor. Management positions may also be a possibility. Some technicians become self-employed.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Motor Vehicle Technician that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Automotive Skills
93 Newman Street
London
W1T 3DT
Tel: 0800 093 1777
www.automotiveskills.org.uk

ReMIT
201 Great Portland Street
London
W1W 5AB
Tel: 020 7580 9122
www.remit.co.uk

The Institute of the Motor Industry
Fanshaws
Brickendon
Hertford
SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511521
www.motor.org.uk

Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA)
www.automotivetechnician.org.uk

Motorsport Industry Association
Federation House
Stoneleigh Park
Warwickshire
CV8 2RF
Tel: 02476 692600
www.the-mia.com

Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA)
Training Services
Berkeley House
Croydon Street
Bristol
BS5 0DA
Tel: 0870 606 0440
www.vosa.gov.uk

Liquid Petroleum Gas Association (LPGA)
www.lpga.co.uk