What does an Automotive Electrician do?

An automotive electrician is a type of mechanic who specializes in repairing and modifying the electrical systems of automobiles and trucks. Although many general automotive technicians can diagnose and repair certain electrical systems, an automotive electrician typically has specialized training and knowledge. Many times, automotive electric repair shops can also repair or rebuild components like starter motors and alternators. These specialized technicians and shops are also likely to have the equipment and knowledge to work with the computerized systems found in many modern vehicles.

A large part of an automotive electrician’s job is diagnosing and repairing various electrical problems. Because a modern vehicle’s electrical system typically includes a charging system and battery, as well as a number of complex accessories and even computerized components, this can result in a wide range of potential issues. Many vehicles have aftermarket accessories such as DVD players, BluetoothTM devices, and Global Positioning System (GPS) units, so an auto electrician must be aware of how these additional components interact with the factory wiring. Some electrical stores may also provide electronic device installation services.

The majority of general automotive repair and rebuild shops no longer repair or rebuild components on-site. Automotive electrical shops are an exception, as they frequently have the expertise and ability to repair malfunctioning components such as alternators and starters. When good rebuilt units are unavailable on the aftermarket, having the existing component rebuilt an electrical shop is the best option.

Another important aspect of automotive electronics is computer diagnostics. Many auto electricians have been trained to use a variety of scan tools and other devices to extract codes from on-board computers and test potentially malfunctioning components. Most automotive systems contain some form of electronics or computer, and automotive electricians may be called upon to work on anti-lock brakes and air bags, among other things.

Although many technicians come from general auto repair and supplement their knowledge with on-the-job training and seminars, it is often possible to train as an automotive electrician in a vocational program. It’s also possible to get an apprenticeship as an automotive electrician, in which case the new technician will be trained someone with extensive knowledge and experience in the field. Independent shops are more likely to train apprentices, whereas dealerships are more likely to sponsor and hire from vocational programs.