In this age of easily created and changed content in a web 2.0 framework, where there is literally trillions of pages and only a few people allocated to checking on the truth of marketing claims, the word ‘qualified’ is often tossed around with little to back it up. When it comes to something with as large an impact on your personal safety and household budget as your car, you want to be sure that the word ‘qualified’ in a mechanic’s description means exactly what you expect it to! Today we are looking at simple steps that anybody can take to ensure that their mechanic is qualified to undertake car repairs and perform routine car services on your vehicle.

Apprenticeships

The most usual way for a mechanic to become ‘qualified’ in Australia is by undertaking a four year apprenticeship. The apprentice undergoes both on-the-job and off-the-job training, in an ordinary mechanic’s environment supplemented by formal learning at TAFE.

Pre-apprentice studies

Students still at high school can also undertake pre-apprenticeship studies in motor mechanics and various aspects of vehicle care and maintenance. The studies usually replace a traditional school subject, and might shorten the length of time it takes the mechanic to become qualified.

Certificate courses

A completed apprenticeship is generally regarded as the gold standard in qualification for motor mechanics. Having no more than a certificate is not considered enough to be a fully qualified mechanic. However, even qualified mechanics can add to their skills with a certificate course that specializes in one area of car repair; diesel engines, electrical appliance engines, or certificates in panel-beating and minor bodywork can add to the value of your mechanic.

Motor Industry Association Memberships

Look for mechanics that are members of their local automobile association and other trade organizations. They aren’t ‘qualifications’ as such – but do add to your confidence in hiring them.

Experience versus Qualifications

As anybody who has worked in any setting knows, there is no substitute for on-the-job training! This is why apprenticeship programs almost invariably include a large on-the-job element in their programs. However, a greater number of years of experience after the apprenticeship has been completed certainly indicates that your mechanic will:

o Have a broader experience in different makes and models of cars
o Have seen a wider variety of problems and their symptoms, perhaps leading to a quicker diagnosis
o Have perfected their systems for performing routine maintenance like car services, and therefore be more cost-effective

Post Trade qualifications

As we mentioned, post-trade qualifications for motor mechanics can include certificate courses in an area of specialization within car repair. In some cases, motor mechanics can use their experience to get substantial credit towards actual qualifications.

Checking on qualifications

The best and easiest method is to ask what qualifications your mechanic has! For some business types, you can check on their license status through the Department of Fair Trading in each state, however motor mechanics do not require a license to practice in every state. Customer testimonials on a company website will provide some indication of qualification, and Googling a company name to find real-life reviews is always a useful method.