The Auto Mechanic of Tomorrow: What You’ll Need to Know to Have a Job
Things have never moved so fast in the automotive industry than today. And these changes greatly affect people with car mechanic jobs. Auto mechanics wonder what it will be like to work in the auto repair shop of tomorrow. They also want to know how to stay current with all the new stuff coming out on a daily basis.
So here are some examples of how working with connected cars, electric vehicles and other car technologies will shape the future of car mechanic jobs.
In a world where the Internet of Things has almost taken over, the web connects just about everything. Even cars.
For drivers, it means they can now connect their cars straight to the web or to a private network. Pairing your cell phone, listening to streaming radio and other distracting stuff has never been easier.
For technicians, it means that car manufacturers will receive information from cars all over the world. Processing all that information will help them predict what maintenance jobs need to be done on a given vehicle. It will also allow them to contact the owner to offer their service. Further, they will have more info to help them diagnose and fix problems, giving them a huge head start compared to independent shop owners.
For mechanics, this can be a good and a bad thing. It all depends on their level of preparedness. Software programming influences a big part of shop work today. Brakes and suspension system work are still the most frequent jobs performed, but re-flashes and unit re-learn procedures are becoming more common every year.
And it should continue that way in the future. Cars are basically becoming huge, complex computers on wheels.
This trend affects car mechanic jobs profoundly. Car manufacturers could siphon off this work by performing over-the-air updates and repairs. There would be less need for customers to bring their cars to a shop.
For example, Chevrolet OnStar system can talk to you from your car’s speaker system. “We can see that your car needs an update and we are going to perform it while you are driving,” it will say. This will keep customers out of the shop. So mechanics need to be prepared and ready to explore new ways to bring customers into the shop.
Even more alarming, another system could share data with local GM dealers. However, they won’t necessarily share it with independent auto repair shops, which could leave them at a disadvantage.
Or worse, manufacturers could simply stop granting mechanics access to any OBD2, on-board diagnostics, data. Mechanics need that data to do their jobs.
Tesla says it can remotely spot 90 percent of car issues and maintenance needed remotely. So it can order parts, take an appointment, and have everything ready and waiting for the customers at their repair centers. All of this completely online.
Other manufacturers like Tesla have straight up created barriers to prevent independent auto repair shop owners from fixing their cars.
You have to admit that this is a pretty good business model though. Not to mention one of the best customer retention systems ever made. But for independent repair shop owners or technicians, these changes put auto mechanics at a disadvantage.
Electric vehicles are also a challenges auto mechanics will have to overcome to stay in business in the next 10 to 15 years. Petrol fuel and internal combustion have been at the root of engine repair for the last century. But because electric propulsion is different, dangerous, and relatively new, many mechanics are wary of this new technology.
No vacuum, no fuel pressure, not even a spark to test. It’s completely different from what auto mechanics have been trained to do in the past, but electric vehicles aren’t a fad and their numbers on the road will only continue to increase.
All car mechanic jobs will involve some sort of electrification in the future, and those who eagerly embrace the technology today will be a step ahead of other mechanics. Very few mechanics are ready to tackle EV maintenance as of today, creating a demand for a completely new kind of technicians with new skills, new goals and new opportunities.
If you are a beginner auto mechanic just start by learning the basics and work you way up. However if you are a licensed professional auto mechanic you may want to step up your game and learn some of the electric stuff. You won’t regret it and you’ll be ahead of everybody else when electric vehicles finally take over the world.
For a number of reasons, autonomous vehicles intimidate mechanics. Car manufacturers keep most the information about those these systems work a secret. And that goes for any information on how to repair them. What’s more, each manufacturer has their own way of doing things.
So it’s a real challenge right now learning how to work on autonomous car features. You may well try to find training in robotics, on-board logistics and AI programming, but let’s face it, by then you’d pretty much be an automotive engineer.
In the end, your regular car mechanic won’t have the money to fully upgrade. They won’t have the required money to buy the software and hardware required to repair autonomous features. They may be able to replace an entire system, but most of the programming and diagnostic of the autonomous system will be left to others.
It’s not really the kind of thing you take for a test drive and try to find the problem by hearing the noise it makes when hitting potholes.
However, autonomous cars will still need replacement parts and maintenance work. That won’t change, even if a computer program is driving.
Business Model of Tomorrow
Aside from the technological changes, the way business is being done is also changing. With the internet being so present in our lives these days, it was only a question of time until tablets and laptops became a part of a mechanic’s daily work too.
Obviously, they are still working with pen and paper in the shop, but iPads and laptops are becoming more prevalent. These tools are a very efficient way to stream line work in the shop and communicate with customers.
To be sure, parts stores and customers still use fax machines and telephones. Just know changes are coming for the way business gets done.
Industry Growth Forecast
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistic, the automotive repair and maintenance industry should experience a 30 percent growth rate through 2020, adding 237,500 new jobs. As far as earnings and the potential for significant job openings, technician is one of the top 20 jobs.
What’s more, you can’t outsource an auto mechanic. You just can’t send your car oversea to get it fixed for cheap. That’s a pretty good forecast.
About the Author
Jee is a professional auto mechanic by day and editor of TheMechanicDoctor.com by night. The website offers tips, tricks, tutorials and other insightful resources for beginner and professional auto mechanics.
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