Essential skills for success as an automotive service technician

Automotive service technicians use essential skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how essential skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.


  • Read emails or notes from colleagues.
  • Read comments on work orders to understand problems and repair schedules.
  • Read instructions and safety warnings on product labels.
  • Read reports from manufacturers describing recalls and faults of specific models of automobiles.
  • Read repair manuals to diagnose and fix mechanical faults.

Document use

  • Read safety symbols on movable parts.
  • Fill out a variety of documents, such as job estimates, warranties, inspection reports and accident forms.
  • Study schematic diagrams for information on electrical, hydraulic, coolant and other systems.
  • Use work orders to find information on vehicles to be serviced, such as repair needs and descriptions of previous problems.
  • Find automotive system faults by interpreting diagnostic graphs and integrating information from other sources.


  • Measure tire pressure using a gauge.
  • Monitor levels of oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and engine coolant.
  • Calculate the total cost of repair jobs including parts, labour rates and taxes.
  • Measure the tightness of bolts and fasteners with torque wrenches.
  • Analyze electrical readings to identify faults, such as an engine that will not start.
  • Estimate the useful life remaining for parts, such as tires, brake pads and exhaust systems.
  • Measure mechanical parts, such as cylinder walls, brake disks and bearings using calipers, dial micrometers and plastigauge strips.


  • Write brief notes on work orders describing repairs to customers' cars.
  • Write brief emails or notes on web forums and technical support sites about unusual or difficult repairs.
  • Write long letters for police and insurance investigations describing the causes and results of accidents.

Oral communication

  • Give instructions and guidance to shop helpers.
  • Inform supervisors and customers if jobs are going to take longer than expected.
  • Explain regular vehicle maintenance procedures to customers.
  • Place orders for parts and supplies by telephone.
  • Participate in discussion groups to share experiences, discuss problems and learn new methods of increasing productivity and providing customer service.
  • Speak to customers and service advisors to obtain information about vehicle repairs.
  • Respond to customer complaints regarding quality, cost or duration of repairs.

Working with others

  • Work well independently.
  • Assist others as required.


  • Decide whether to reorder parts or contact alternate suppliers when the parts needed for repairs are not available.
  • Decide which tools to use, procedures to follow and tests to perform in order to diagnose and repair vehicles.
  • Find information on stickers, labels, assembly drawings and repair manuals to determine the proper use, application and installation of parts and supplies.
  • Decide to replace worn parts when repairs are not feasible or economical.
  • Assess the condition of critical parts and systems, such as brakes, tires and exhaust systems.
  • Interpret displays on computerized scanning equipment and onboard vehicle sensors to find operational information.
  • Determine the reliability of information received from customers and its relevance to repairs.
  • Decide on the most efficient course of action to complete various jobs.
  • Evaluate the complexity of jobs to determine if they can be successfully completed.

Computer use

  • Use the Internet to gather information, such as technical service bulletins and recall notices.
  • Use databases for activities such as reviewing past service information or to complete work orders.
  • Use communications software for activities such as exchanging emails with other technicians or manufacturer support specialists.
  • Use computer applications and computerized machinery such as diagnostic scanners and wheel alignment machines.

Continuous learning

  • Learn about the latest technology on the job, in organized information sessions and in work discussion groups.
  • Read work-related magazines, periodicals and automotive websites.
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