Other heavy vehicles and mobile equipment, including bulldozers and cranes, also are powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats, passenger vehicles, pickups, and other work trucks. Diesel service technicians who service and repair these engines are commonly known as diesel mechanics.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair or overhaul buses, trucks and anything else with a diesel engine.
A diesel mechanic performs preventative maintenance and repairs on diesel engines and vehicles. He or she might specialize by working with large trucks and buses, passenger vehicles or heavy machinery such as bulldozers, cranes and tractors. Diesel mechanics are valued for their expert knowledge of brake systems, transmissions and electronic components unique to diesel powered vehicles.
Diesel mechanics are often required to perform routine maintenance checks on vehicles and machinery. They may follow an inspection checklist or rely on their previous experience to ensure everything is in proper working order. If serious problems are found during a maintenance inspection, mechanics typically make notes and schedule necessary repairs.
When repair work is needed, a diesel mechanic will carefully assess the problem and acquire any necessary replacement parts. Depending on the nature of a repair job, he or she may use pneumatic tools, welding and cutting equipment, and various hand-held wrenches and screwdrivers. Once repairs are completed, the mechanic starts the engine to make sure it runs properly.
Most modern diesel engines are equipped with several electronic components and computer processors. Therefore, it is very beneficial for a diesel mechanic to be proficient with computers and have a strong understanding of electronics. They often use diagnostic machines and computer software to ensure all electronic parts are working correctly.
- Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:
- Follow a checklist of inspection procedures
- Test drive vehicles to diagnose malfunctions
- Read and interpret diagnostic test results from diagnostic equipment such as an oscilloscope, which is used to measure the voltage produced by electronic components
- Raise trucks, buses and heavy parts or equipment by using hydraulic jacks or hoists
- Inspect brake systems, steering mechanisms, transmissions engines and other parts of vehicles
- Do routine maintenance, such as changing oil, checking batteries and lubricating equipment and parts
- Adjust and align wheels, tighten bolts and screws and attach system components
- Repair or replace malfunctioning components, parts and other mechanical or electrical equipment
- Test-drive vehicles to ensure that they run smoothly
- Because of their efficiency and durability, diesel engines have become the standard in powering our nation’s trucks and buses. Other heavy vehicles and mobile equipment, including bulldozers and cranes, also are powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats, passenger vehicles, pickups and other work trucks. Diesel service technicians who service and repair these engines are commonly known as diesel mechanics.
- Diesel mechanics handle many kinds of repairs. They may work on a vehicle’s electrical system, make major engine repairs or retrofit exhaust systems with emission control systems to comply with pollution regulations.
- Diesel engine maintenance and repair is becoming more complex as engines and other components use more electronic systems to control their operation. For example, fuel injection and engine timing systems rely heavily on microprocessors to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize harmful emissions. In most shops, workers often use hand-held or laptop computers to diagnose problems and adjust engine functions.
- In addition to using computerized diagnostic equipment, diesel mechanics use a variety of power and machine tools, such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, grinding machines and welding equipment. Hand tools, including pliers, sockets and ratchets and screwdrivers, are commonly used.
- Employers typically provide expensive power tools and computerized equipment but workers generally acquire their own hand tools over time.