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The Differences Between Auto Mechanics and Diesel Mechanics

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Modern cars and trucks have lots in common, but they’re still worked on by two different types of professionals. Auto mechanics focus on working with passenger cars that are powered by petrol engines. On the other hand, heavy vehicles like trucks are serviced by a professional like a mobile diesel mechanic. While the two types of vehicles share lots of technologies, the use of petrol versus diesel engines means it’s important to have your vehicle serviced by the right type of mechanic. And you must make sure there is not the wrong fuel in car,

But, as systems advance and cars and trucks become more alike, people are often left wondering about the differences between auto and diesel mechanics. After all, petrol and diesel engines look almost identical, so surely the only difference is the size of the vehicle. It’s a fair question, so we’re going to explore the differences between auto and diesel mechanics below.

Types of Vehicles

The biggest difference between auto mechanics and diesel mechanics is the types of vehicles they’re trained to work with.

A qualified auto mechanic mostly works on cars and other light passenger vehicles. If you own a car, SUV, ute or motorbike, you’ll probably find yourself visiting an auto mechanic for any problems you experience. Auto mechanics have the training and experience to work on these sorts of vehicles, and they also have the appropriate equipment and diagnostic tools to get the job done.

Diesel mechanics are a little different. While they provide servicing, repairs and maintenance for heavy vehicles like trucks and buses, they’re usually equipped to work on all sorts of diesel equipment. That includes generators, mining trucks, earthmoving machines, boat engines, 4WDs and more. The heavy-duty diesel engines found in these types of vehicles require specific training to work on. In some cases, heavy vehicles may be powered by petrol or LPG engines, but diesel mechanics are still better equipped to take care of larger vehicles.

Auto and Diesel Mechanic Qualifications

The differences in their work mean that auto and diesel mechanics are expected to obtain different qualifications. Under Australia’s training system, anyone who wants to become an auto mechanic will need to undergo a 3 to 4 year apprenticeship. During this time, an apprentice will undertake hands-on training with a qualified mechanic and formal coursework with a training organisation. Towards the end of the apprenticeship they will complete a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanic Technology. If successful, the apprentice can become a qualified auto mechanic.

Australian diesel mechanics are also required to complete an apprenticeship. Over the course of 3 to 4 years of study, diesel mechanic apprentices are placed with qualified technicians for hands-on training. They will also complete coursework with a training organisation and work towards a Certificate III in Diesel Engine Technology. Once that’s completed they can become qualified diesel mechanics.

What Do Auto Mechanics Do?

Auto mechanics aren’t just trained to work on cars, their workshops and tools are also designed to handle the smaller class of vehicle. Your local auto mechanic will have broad training that allows them to work on a range of different makes and models of car. In an average day, you can expect to find your auto mechanic:

  • Servicing cars, SUVs, utes, motorbikes and other light vehicles
  • Performing major repair work
  • Replacing failing components and systems
  • Performing Roadworthy and Safety Certificate inspections
  • Doing routine maintenance such as oil changes
  • Diagnosing complex faults and failing systems

What Do Diesel Mechanics Do?

Diesel mechanics aren’t just limited to working on trucks and other vehicles. Because diesel engines power other equipment like earthmoving machines, boats and generators, diesel mechanics can work on a huge range of equipment. The sheer size and scale of some diesel equipment means that diesel mechanics often have bigger workshops and a much broader range of tools and diagnostic equipment. On the average day, you’ll be able to find your diesel mechanic:

  • Travelling to customers to offer mobile diesel mechanic services
  • Using advanced diagnostic tools to identify faults with diesel engines and other vehicle systems
  • Providing routine diesel maintenance and servicing
  • Inspecting vehicles for faulty components and failing equipment
  • Major repair and component replacement work
  • Servicing for a range of diesel equipment such as earthmoving machines, generators, watercraft and more
  • Providing fleet maintenance for large corporate clients