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Automobile Mechanic

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Synonyms: Automotive machinist; garage mechanic; motor-vehicle mechanic

Job profile

Definition and/or description


Repairs, services and overhauls automobiles and assimilated motor vehicles; examines vehicle to ascertain nature, extent and location of defects; plans work, using charts and technical manuals; dismantles engine, transmission, differential or other parts requiring attention; repairs or replaces parts such as pistons, rods, gears, valves, bearings, breaker points or gaskets and accessories such as spark plugs; relines and adjusts brakes, solders leaks in radiator, rebushes steering mechanism and carries out other repairs; tunes motor by adjusting ignition, carburettor, valves and timing mechanism; tests repaired vehicles in workshop or on road. May rebuild parts using lathes, shapers, welding equipment and hand tools. May do electrical and body repairs and spray painting. May specialize in repairing a particular type of engine, such as diesel automobile engines, and be designated accordingly (ISCO).

Related and specific occupations


Similar occupations designated according to a speciality: bus mechanic; diesel- engine mechanic; motor- truck mechanic; engine-repair mechanic; motor or bus repairer; differential repairer; compressor mechanic; engine-head repairer, etc., or according to a title: garage supervisor; bus inspection mechanic; transmission mechanic; brake repairer; diesel-mechanic helper, etc. (DOT).



Abrading; adjusting; aligning; assembling and disassembling; bolting; bonding; boring; brazing; brushing; burning; calibrating; cementing; chipping; clamping; cleaning; cutting; diagnosing; dipping; disassembling; dis- mantling; drilling; driving; examining; fabricating; fastening; filing; filling; finishing; fitting; flame-cutting; forging; grinding; gluing; hammering; heating; insert- ing; inspecting; installing; laminating; lifting; lubricating; machining; maintaining; measuring (with instruments); melting; mending; milling; overhauling; painting; piercing; planning; positioning; pressing; pulling; pumping; pushing; raising; reboring; rebushing; recharging; reconditioning; relining; removing; repairing; replacing; riveting; rewiring; rubbing (compounds); sanding; scraping; servicing; setting; soldering; spraying; squeezing; stapling; tapping; testing; threading; tightening; tuning; verifying (dimensions); welding.


Accident hazards


– Injuries during work with mechanized equipment, such as lathes, drills, boring and honing machines, discs, shapers and various cutting and hand tools (e.g. cutters, wrenches, screwdrivers, chisels, sledgehammers, etc.);

– Injuries resulting from collapse, setting or slipping of jacking, lifting or hoisting equipment and falling vehicles;

– Stabs and cuts caused by knives, sharp objects, hand tools, banging on metal pieces, loose bolts, etc. during dismantling, repair and assembly operations;

– Slips, trips and falls from ladders, stairs, elevated platforms, etc. and falls into inspection pits (especially when carrying loads);

– Falls on level surfaces, especially on wet, slippery or greasy floors;

– Crushing of toes as a result of heavy objects falling on feet;

– Burns and scorches as a result of contact with hot surfaces, exhaust pipes or hot-melt chemicals; sudden release of hot water and steam from steam lines, radiator and cooling system pipes; soldering, brazing and welding operations, etc.;

– Eye injury from splinters and flying objects during grinding, machining, abrading, polishing, boring and similar operations or while operating compressed-air equipment for drum and brake cleaning and similar operations;

– Bursting of compressed-air lines or containers; accidental injection of material/compressed air either through the skin or body orifices;

– Bursting of tyres;

– Accidents due to poorly installed and inappropriately maintained steam and water pressure cleaners;

– Injuries caused by rolling-road/brakes testing equipment;

– Electrocution as a result of defects, short circuits or incorrect use of electromechanical equipment, or contact with live wires (e.g., electric shocks from portable power tools);

– Fires and explosions of flammable and explosive substances (e.g., liquid petroleum gas, gasoline, solvents, oils etc.), accumulating as a result of spills, leaks, neglect, etc., or by ignition of hydrogen released from batteries, or by flames originating from flame cutting and welding operations, etc;

– Carbon monoxide poisoning of inspection-pit workers;

– Road accidents during testing and driving of repaired vehicles.

Physical hazards


– Excessive noise (greater than 90 dBA), especially in car body work;

– Exposure to direct and reflected ultraviolet and infrared radiation;

– Exposure to microwave and radiofrequency radiation, especially in such activities as heat-sealing of panels and upholstery, drying of trim base panels etc.;

– Exposure to low temperatures and winds, especially in open-shed garages, resulting in colds (the use of improvised heating may also cause fire and carbon monoxide poisoning);

– Exposure to x rays and radioisotopes in automobile manufacturing/non-destructive testing;

– Development of vibration white finger (VWF) as a result of vibrating power-driven tools.

Chemical hazards


– Chronic poisoning as a result of exposure to a wide range of industrial chemicals, including heavy metals (e.g., brake fluids, degreasers, detergents, lubricants, metal cleaners, paint removers, thinners etc.) (see Appendix);

– Skin diseases and conditions (various types of dermatitis, skin sensitization, eczema, oil acne, etc.) caused by various chemicals (e.g., adhesives, asbestos, antifreeze and brake fluids, epoxy resins, gasoline, oils, nickel, colophony, etc.);

– Eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, breathing problems, headaches, etc., caused by contact with chemical irritants, dusts, fumes, antiknock agents (such as methylpentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT)), ketone solvents (such as methyl isobutyl ketone (MIK)), etc.;

– Asbestosis and mesothelioma caused by asbestos dust from brake-drum cleaning and processing operation;

– Lead poisoning;

– Haematological changes as a result of exposure to solvents, such as benzene and its homologues, toluene, xylene, etc.;

– Increased risk of cancer due to inhalation of diesel exhaust fumes or contact with certain heavy metals and their compounds, asbestos, benzene, etc.;

– Increased risk of organic brain damage due to inhalation of diesel exhaust fumes;

– Acute eye and mucous membrane irritation, headaches, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, etc., caused by inhalation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and respirable particulates;

– Increased risk of abortion or damage to fœtus or embryo in pregnant women exposed to organo-halogen solvents;

– Gastrointestinal disturbances as a result of accidental or chronic ingestion of adhesives;

– Nuisance due to bad smells when working with certain solvent-based adhesives;

– Splashes of corrosive and reactive chemicals that may cause eye and skin injuries, etc.

Biological hazards


Infections as a result of micro-organism contamination and growth in certain adhesives.

Ergonomic and social factors


– Acute musculoskeletal injuries (intervertebral disk rupture, tendon rupture, hernia, etc.) caused by physical overexertion and incorrect combination of weight and posture during lifting and moving of heavy loads;

– Cumulative trauma disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by long-time repetitive work;

– Tiredness and general ill feeling;

– Danger of being attacked by individuals (including dissatisfied customers) in work places open to the public;

– Psychological stress when working under time pressure.



Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 1991. Health and Safety in Tyre and Exhaust Fitting Premises. HS (G) 62. London: HSE Books.

—. 1991. Health and Safety in Motor Vehicle Repair. HS (G) 67. London: HSE Books.



Principal substances to which automobile mechanics may be exposed:

– Abrasive dusts

– Acrolein

– Adhesives

– Alkalis

– Antifreeze fluids

– Asbestos

– Benzene

– Bisphenol A

– Brake fluids

– Butanol

– Butyl acetate

– Carbon monoxide

– Chlorinated hydrocarbons (e.g., solvents)

– Colophony (rosin)

– Cutting fluids

– Degreasers

– Diacetone alcohol

– Dichromates

– Dioxane

– Detergents (synthetic)

– Epoxy resins

– Ethyl acetate

– Ethylene glycol

– Flame retardants

– Gasoline and additives

– Glass fibres

– Graphite

– Greases

– Hydraulic fluids

– Hydroquinone

– Isocyanates

– Isopropanol

– Kerosene

– Lead and its compounds

– Lubricants

– Metal cleaners

– Methanol

– Methyl isobutyl ketone

– Molybdenum disulphide

– Nickel

– Nitrogen oxides

– Oils (including used oils)

– Oxalic acid

– Paint removers

– Paint thinners (e.g., turpentine)

– Phthalic anhydride

– Plastics

– Polyester resins

– Rubber antioxidants and accelerators

– Soldering fluxes

– Solvents (different types)

– Tetraethyl lead

– Thimerosol

– Tricarbonyl

– Toluene

– White spirit

– Xylene



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Guide to Occupations References

Brandt, AD. 1946. Industrial Health Engineering. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Commission of the European Communities (CEC). 1991-93. International Chemical Safety Cards. 10 vols. Luxembourg: CEC.

—. 1993. Compiler’s Guide for the Preparation of International Chemical Safety Cards (First Revision). Luxembourg: CEC International Programme on Chemical Safety (UNEP/ILO/WHO).

Donagi, AE et al. 1983. Potential Hazards in Various Occupations, a Preliminary List [card file]. Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv University School of Medicine, Research Institute of Environmental Health.

Donagi, AE (ed.). 1993. A Guide to Health and Safety Hazards in Various Occupations: The Health System. 2 vols. Tel-Aviv: Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene.

Haddon, W, EA Suchman, and D Klein. 1964. Accident Research: Methods and Approaches. New York: Harpers and Row.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 1978. International Standard Classification of Occupations, revised edition. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1990. International Standard Classification of Occupations: ISCO-88. Geneva: ILO.

International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre (CIS). 1995. International Safety Datasheets on Occupations. Steering Committee meeting, 9-10 March. Geneva: International Labour Organization.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 1977. Occupational Diseases: A Guide to Their Recognition. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-181. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

Stellman, JM and SM Daum. 1973. Work Is Dangerous to Your Health. New York: Vintage Books.

United Nations. 1971. Indexes to the International Standard Classification of All Economic Activities. UN Publication No. WW.71.XVII, 8. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

US Department of Labor (DOL). 1991. Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th (revised) edition. Washington, DC: DOL.

—. 1991. The Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs. Washington, DC: DOL.