Essential skills for success as a truck and transport mechanic

Truck and transport mechanics 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 specifications for trucks on a computer database.
  • Read service bulletins and flyers.
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to learn about the dangers of using certain products.
  • Read health and safety materials, such as descriptions of personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid information.
  • Read installation and programming directions for electronic equipment.
  • Read shop training manuals and written materials from the shop library to learn more about engines and electronics.

Document use

  • Complete preventive maintenance checklists.
  • Fill out customer scheduling information on an appointment board.
  • Complete warranty registration forms.
  • Refer to size tables for tires and differentials and conversion charts for calibrating speedometers.
  • Interpret diagnostic graphs such as temperature graphs to see if sensors are within specifications.
  • Read assembly diagrams to assemble specialized equipment such as transmissions.
  • Interpret blueprints and schematic diagrams for systems such as wiring or air brakes.
  • Read and follow electrical troubleshooting charts and diagrams.
  • Interpret tachnographs which record speeds, revolutions per minute (rpm), and engine idling for diagnostic purposes.


  • Measure and weigh refrigerants.
  • Compare the number of hours a truck was idle to the distance it ran to determine the amount of fuel burned.
  • Measure current resistance, amperage draw, voltage drop, temperatures and rpms.
  • Estimate the weight of a load.
  • Estimate repair costs.
  • Calculate the average fuel economy for a vehicle.
  • Measure the thickness of a washer, the depth of a counterbore and the length of an axle.


  • Write notes to co-workers to provide updates on equipment.
  • Write comments on preventative maintenance checklist forms.
  • Complete estimates of all items that need to be replaced when a vehicle comes in.
  • Write entries in work orders to show the cause of a malfunction and how it was corrected.
  • Write reports on vehicle damage for insurance claims.

Oral communication

  • Communicate with stockroom personnel about parts.
  • Contact other mechanics to find out what repairs were previously done to a vehicle and discuss how to carry out difficult repairs.
  • Talk to the shop foreman to discuss scheduling and the length of various jobs.
  • Communicate with truck company dispatchers about how long it will take before their trucks are back on the road.
  • Talk to customers to discuss their vehicle and to provide important information on parts and warranties.
  • Contact manufacturers to discuss problems with parts.

Working with others

  • Typically work independently on tasks.
  • Coordinate tasks that involve lifting with co-workers.
  • Work as part of a team with other mechanics, service managers and parts and warehouse personnel.


  • Choose the most appropriate tools for the job.
  • Find mutually agreeable maintenance times with dispatchers.
  • Itemize all the steps required to make repairs so that drivers will understand the length of the process.
  • Decide what repairs are most important to be done when a driver has only limited time available.
  • Decide when to call a customer about a repair or go ahead with the repair based on past experience with the customer and cost.
  • Decide when to repair or replace suspension, tie rods or tires based on experience, safety considerations and company policies.
  • Decide whether a load is safe to be brought into the shop.
  • Sequence tasks in a logical order.
  • Remember troubleshooting procedures and assembly and disassembly procedures.

Computer use

  • Use databases to access customer information.
  • Use computerized manuals and diagnostic systems that operate from handheld monitors or laptops which can be plugged directly into trucks.

Continuous learning

  • Participate in training about new equipment and effective troubleshooting.
  • Attend specialty courses on topics such as handling propane and using refrigerants.
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