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Old 02-19-2019, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
5,598 posts, read 1,888,559 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turkey-head View Post
I'm sure you can see why such a claim based on "second-hand experience" doesn't really warrant an explanation.
Didn't stop you.

I've been building and working on cars for almost 40 years, including developing some very sophisticated electronic systems. I'm not in any way saying some monkey can use a diagnostic tool to fix the systems on new cars, but I've never seen anything outside of a prototyping and customizing shop that ever opened up any of the boxes for repair or even diagnosis. Using factory diagnostic tools and checking voltages and signals is quite a ways from rocket science, though, and I never fail to be puzzled when experienced mechanics present it as something orders of magnitude more difficult that, say, variable roller cam system repair or troubleshooting and repairing almost any modern transmission.

But whatever.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:20 PM
miu
 
Location: MA/NH
16,944 posts, read 34,043,390 times
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If you are mechanically inclined, I would check it out. My husband is an electrical engineer, but he enjoys working with his hands. When he was in high school, he taught himself how to rebuild the transmission he broke on his family's Cadillac. He got into motorsports and taught himself how to upgrade his suspension, put a turbo on an Integra and to also tune his car on a dyno. Basically, he researches how things work, and then has at it. Our current house has a giant garage and we have an automotive lift in one of the bays.

Even if you don't stick with being an auto tech, you can save money by working on your own cars. And you'll never need to buy a new car. In our household, our cars are older Japanese cars and trucks that were bought really cheaply. And your automotive skills can be a stepping stone to learn another skilled trade. At the age of 18, you are young, and it's really no big deal to change career direction several times in your adult life.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:20 PM
 
Location: in the soup
3,599 posts, read 1,507,108 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
Didn't stop you.

I've been building and working on cars for almost 40 years, including developing some very sophisticated electronic systems. I'm not in any way saying some monkey can use a diagnostic tool to fix the systems on new cars, but I've never seen anything outside of a prototyping and customizing shop that ever opened up any of the boxes for repair or even diagnosis. Using factory diagnostic tools and checking voltages and signals is quite a ways from rocket science, though, and I never fail to be puzzled when experienced mechanics present it as something orders of magnitude more difficult that, say, variable roller cam system repair or troubleshooting and repairing almost any modern transmission.

But whatever.
I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. Close enough
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:25 PM
 
Location: in the soup
3,599 posts, read 1,507,108 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miu View Post
If you are mechanically inclined, I would check it out. My husband is an electrical engineer, but he enjoys working with his hands. When he was in high school, he taught himself how to rebuild the transmission he broke on his family's Cadillac. He got into motorsports and taught himself how to upgrade his suspension, put a turbo on an Integra and to also tune his car on a dyno. Basically, he researches how things work, and then has at it. Our current house has a giant garage and we have an automotive lift in one of the bays.

Even if you don't stick with being an auto tech, you can save money by working on your own cars. And it can be a stepping stone to learn another skilled trade. At the age of 18, you are young, and it's really no big deal to change career direction several times in your adult life.
Father forgive her, for she knows not of what she speaks.

Working on race cars as a hobby is not remotely the same thing as being a professional mechanic.

Fly-fishing for trout on the weekends is not the same thing as working on a trawler as a career. They're both 'fishing', but one tells you little about the other. One is fun and interesting... the other is hard work with marginal pay-off.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:43 PM
 
2,336 posts, read 563,312 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turkey-head View Post
I'm sure you can see why such a claim based on "second-hand experience" doesn't really warrant an explanation. But such is the glory of being a mechanic. Every half-literate cubicle-dweller out there *thinks* they can do your job and doesn't want to pay for it... but yet doing it themselves is out of the question.

So if you're working at a dealership, only working on newer vehicles, and hoovering the service writer's Richard so that you're handed the easy jobs... then sure. There are many cases where you can plug in a scanner, read the code, swap the part... and you're done. But that's *only* the case where well known, common failures are concerned. And then only because you (or somebody) have done the actual troubleshooting on similar failures before.

An error code does NOT tell you what the problem is. At best it tells you on what particular circuit the problem lies. More accurately it tells you that the error code criteria written by some code monkey on another continent a decade ago has been met... criteria which is rarely documented in any real detail. If you're lucky (say, 90% of the time), the code description will actually match the circuit and the (very) general description of what sets the code. Say, signal voltage below .25V or above 4.75V on a sensor with a 5V range.

So why is that signal voltage below .25V?

Could be a bad sensor- often you can test that if you know what you're doing. But what if the sensor tests ok? Keep in mind that you can never truly prove that a sensor is good under all conditions... you can only prove that it's NOT working if you're lucky enough to find that in a test. Or maybe that sensor only fails when it gets to 200 degrees at 80%+ humidity, in which case the sensor that just tested good is actually bad.

Could be a loose/burnt/corroded connector pin or rubbed through wire in a section of wiring harness that's impossible to see... let alone access and really inspect. So you inspect what you can get to. If you actually know something about electronics, you can isolate and load test each wire and prove that it'll carry 5 amps, or whatever you reckon is safe. But keep in mind, you can never truly prove that the wiring is good under all conditions. Maybe that wiring is broken inside the insulation- so not visible even if you COULD access the completely inaccessible location where this break happens to be. And that break in the wiring only loses connection when you hit a bump while turning to the right on Tuesdays. In which case that wire that just tested good is actually bad.

Could be a bad controller. Now despite popular opinion on the matter, there does not exist *any* way to test an electronic controller and say that it's 100% good in all conditions. So if you're lucky enough to have access to a new/test controller, a relatively easy check is to swap in that known good controller. If it works, you've found your problem. Well, unless of course the problem is actually with the power supply or ground circuit TO the controller. Which can cause just about any error code under the sun, and might work perfectly well until things get nice and hot, and the customer's kid kicks the dash in just the right spot to wiggle a loose connection. In which case the customer is gonna be real impressed that they just spent $1500 on a controller they didn't need

Could be that an entirely different sensor that shares the same regulated 5V supply is shorting to ground... bringing supply voltage down and causing said code. If you're lucky enough to catch that in action, you can unplug one sensor at a time and see if the regulated voltage comes back up. Or maybe the short only occurs when they run through a puddle of salt water... in which case you're not gonna find it right now.

Could be that two or more of the above are marginal such that they don't quite test bad... but a marginal sensor and a marginal connector pin add up to voltage out of range.

Or it could be that NONE of the above parts have failed. Could be a problem with poorly written software throwing the code under some peculiar condition, documented in some obscure service bulletin that nobody's ever heard of. Or never documented at all.


Now, a good mechanic can usually work through the above possibilities and fix your problem. And the customer will grumble about having to pay an hour of diagnostic time because he knows through "second-hand experience" that all the mechanic had to do was plug in a code reader.
Yes, I hate when people insult a trade.

Before we even get to circuit boards... once, my dealership was diligent in chasing down a single wire, within a harness, that had intermittent connectivity (an OPEN, not a short) that prevented several of my driver door controls from working. Am I going to get mad that it cost $300, or that they left a single piece of wire trimming on my floor mat? No! I'm ecstatic that it was fixed on the first try!

I will concede, a good amount of customer frustration and distrust results once we get away from testing circuits (you will see a value out of spec before you replace the corresponding part) and begin replacing entire systems that cost $1500-2000 a pop with no assurance that *this* will fix it.

I'm sure a good deal of this occurs at the board level where an error code is thrown or limp mode is activated when a certain input isn't within the expected range. Sensors get replaced, codes cleared, then it reoccurs. This could be due to a damaged wiring harness, or stress on a plug that causes damage to a set of pins it connects to.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Metro Detroit Michigan
3,580 posts, read 984,510 times
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To make it as a mechanic you have to be good and fast. If you’re working on a flat hour basis and the book tells you it should take x amount of time to fix but you fix it faster you ahead and onto the next job. My older brother is a retired master mechanic who has worked in dealerships had his own shops, he has his license for America vehicles and imports, he’s worked in the Gulf of Mexico on oil rigs also. He has so many tool boxes filled with snap on ! sK, and the old craftsman tools the American made ones. He has to have his tools shipped b6 freight trucks because weight he must have over a $100,000 in tools he’s been wrenching for over 50 years. He has his own shop at his house with a pole barn as his garage with a hoist installed with all the airlines for his impacts and other air tools.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:46 PM
 
11,051 posts, read 42,194,508 times
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if you have the aptitude and interest, there are still a fair number of auto tech jobs where you can earn a decent (around 6-figure) income with benefits. There are a limited number of shops around the country with the clientele and business management where this can happen.

You will have to pay the personal price of admission to reach the skill level to achieve this level of success. Your training, tools and equipment, and physical condition all come in to play. The key is to learn how to use your brains/diagnostic skills & repair tactics to maximize your billable time and productivity. All comes at a $cost and some years of practical experience.

If you only aspire to be a parts-changer, then it's a young man's game. Speed and accurate work there will give you the best pay possible, but it wears on the body over time. You've got to learn to work smarter, not harder if you'll be able to stay in the business.

There are still many opportunities to take your skillset to a higher level via shop ownership. This involves a whole new set of management skills which are separate from the technical skills of working on cars. I know as many shop owners who started as techs as ones who are purely business background people who know how to attract, compensate, and retain quality techs in a good working environment. I've watched as several of my contemporaries have acquired land/buildings, inventory, equipment … and built up a 10-20 employee organization with 7-8 figure annual gross sales. A couple of them have recently retired, and their books and assets justified and found cash buyers in the 7-figure range (just about evenly split between real estate and facilities and business cash flow/organization).

Another shop I know in Colorado (with a 15-employee staff), 8 bays facility, recently bought out another shop in their town which had 10 employees and 12 bays/unit room/front office & customer waiting area/employee lunch room/parts rooms, etc. The sale took place from one shop owner (who was not a tech) due to a casual conversation about the buyer interested in acquiring another shop in town to accommodate an expanding clientele. I don't know the price, but the one owner (in his early 50's) now has two multi-$mil businesses that he works at, splitting his time between the two shops 4 miles apart. Not a poor outcome for a high school "farm boy" who started with a "grease monkey" job at a quick lube emporium and moved on with Vo-Tech and dealer training to be a 1st-class tech before buying into a shop. Do not lose sight, however, of the business skills which he's had to develop to achieve this level of results.

Clearly, opportunities exist throughout this and related industries. For example, a major multi-outlet farm equipment dealer in my region was advertising for techs with these automotive type skillsets. They'd recently bought out another chain of farm equip dealers and were expanding their facilities. Their ads asserted that their "average" tech was knocking down $100K/year (and most of these shops work a 7-5 Mon-Fri schedule; weekend callouts are sometimes in rotation and at a premium pay rate). As the electronics world has permeated farm equipment engines/transmissions/equipment in much the same way as it has automotive, the skills are comparable. The equipment does look a little different, however, and won't reach highway cruise speeds. But the stuff works much the same as automobiles. Of course, these jobs were primarily in rural areas of the mid-continent USA … and one has to consider if living in a "small town USA" in a rural area is your "cup 'o tea". Certainly, a $100K income with bene's in such an area could be a very good living, indeed.

Similarly, there's a lot of jobs in the HVAC industry, or building maintenance, or other comparable "hands on" work is combined with electronics expertise. Again, if you've got the aptitude and interest, all of these present opportunities/benefits/pay scales which may be acceptable to you.

As career choices, the results are up to you. Put in the effort to be a top tech and you can get the rewards.


PS: follow the C-D threads in other areas, such as investing/retirement. You'll find posters who've done quite well for themselves through the years … such as MathJak (who, if IIRC, was in HVAC). Whether they earned their living through a "pro" clean-hands career or blue collar work, they learned money management, patience, investing and investing in themselves to accomplish their long term career goals. I presume that they, like me, enjoyed the careers and had many facets to enjoy which aren't limited to high paying "pro" career paths requiring years of advanced degrees to achieve success. There remains an arrogance among many univ grads that "you ain't worth sh*t" unless you've got the expensive sheepskin in your CV and the "pro" career that follows that … and yet, I know a fair number of "blue collar" workers who have achieved comparable financials over their careers and have been happy to do so.

Most extreme case I know of: I used to get into a wee bit of conversation with our trash hauler about topics of the day, oft-times politics. We shared a common perspective and one day I was invited to his home for a b-b-q. He's a minority, usually dressed in dirty worn coveralls. OK, says I, I'll stop by this Saturday … could be good for a laugh and interesting conversation. The address he gives me is in a relatively affluent neighborhood. So I show up, there's a bunch of high dollar foreign cars in the driveway, my little MB 300Dt is almost embarrassed by all the upline models there. Turns out his friends are similarly working high paying blue collar jobs which they went into business for themselves and have done quite well for themselves. Oh … I need to use the bathroom facilities and notice when I close the door there's a sheepskin framed there. A PhD in Philosophy from a top-ranked private university, with his name on it. Turned out that he got hired into a fast-track for tenure as a minority quota hire at an ivy league univ and didn't like the atmosphere of academia as a career. He got more satisfaction … and more interaction with "people on the street" with his route job; after a couple years, he bought the trucks, routes, and client list. Made as much money as being an assistant prof. One of the happiest people I've ever known, it didn't matter how bad the weather was … he always had a smile on his face and a hearty happy greeting as he went about his work.

Last edited by sunsprit; 02-19-2019 at 08:37 PM..
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:03 PM
 
Location: in the soup
3,599 posts, read 1,507,108 times
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Cool sales pitch

Doesn't change the fact that auto mechanics averaged $39,000 per year in 2017:
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation...-mechanics.htm


I know we're all special according to our mammas. But that's no reason to base a decision on the outliers.
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:20 PM
 
11,051 posts, read 42,194,508 times
Reputation: 14482
Quote:
Originally Posted by turkey-head View Post
Cool sales pitch

Doesn't change the fact that auto mechanics averaged $39,000 per year in 2017:
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation...-mechanics.htm


I know we're all special according to our mammas. But that's no reason to base a decision on the outliers.
we could quote the "average" income for doctors, lawyers, and so many other "professions" which would be quite lower than the vaunted top earners in their business.

so it goes for auto techs, too there's a lot of them that are paid way below the "average" income. Many of them barely "earn" what they're paid.

and yet, there are many who do a lot better than "average". They're usually the ones with the aptitude and drive who put forth the effort and investment in themselves to reach the top rungs. Just like in the "professional" lines of work.

pray tell, what's wrong with aspiring to be one of the "outliers" at the top of the trade?
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:32 PM
 
Location: in the soup
3,599 posts, read 1,507,108 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
we could quote the "average" income for doctors, lawyers, and so many other "professions" which would be quite lower than the vaunted top earners in their business.

so it goes for auto techs, too there's a lot of them that are paid way below the "average" income. Many of them barely "earn" what they're paid.

and yet, there are many who do a lot better than "average". They're usually the ones with the aptitude and drive who put forth the effort and investment in themselves to reach the top rungs. Just like in the "professional" lines of work.

pray tell, what's wrong with aspiring to be one of the "outliers" at the top of the trade?
Nothing at all wrong with it... so long as one understands that their chance of being that outlier is by definition rather small.

If somebody asks me for career advice, my advice will lean toward a career with better odds of making a good living. I'm sure there there are outlier burger-flippers making six figures. Doesn't mean it's a good career choice for most people.

But hey, some people like paying for a collection of tools priced on par with a college education. For a job that on average pays a lot less.
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