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Diesel Mechanic Duties and Responsibilities

While a diesel mechanic's day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Create Written Maintenance Records Diesel mechanics consult with customers, read work orders, and determine the work required before they begin making repairs. Maintaining proper service records on work completed is an important responsibility of diesel mechanics. They fill out paperwork that helps communicate a vehicle's status to other service coordinators, shop foreman, and drivers.

Perform Diagnostics on Diesel Systems Diesel technicians utilize laptops and hand-held computer units to improve engine efficiency. They conduct electrical, fuel, and other diagnostics. Mechanics examine, test computer drives, and troubleshoot mechanical problems using industry standard test procedures and computer diagnostic equipment.

Repair Diesel Engines A diesel technician’s primary job is repairing diesel engines and maintaining various types of heavy equipment such as buses, agricultural equipment, and construction vehicles. They help make these engines operate more efficiently. They examine fuel regulators, emission control systems, and timing systems. Diesel mechanics correct flaws in automotive components, electrical, air condition, fuel, valve mechanisms, linkages, oil systems, and traction units.

Conduct Routine Maintenance Diesel mechanics normally perform various types of maintenance on heavy-duty diesel engine tractors and trailers under limited supervision. They check batteries, lubricate parts, and change oil to prevent engine failure. Once maintenance is completed, they test-drive vehicles to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Inspect Mechanical Components A majority of the technical work a diesel mechanic provides involves inspecting hydraulic systems and brakes, suspensions, transmissions, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic components on trucks. A variety of diesel mechanics perform maintenance on other specialized construction equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, and other earth moving equipment.


Diesel Mechanic Skills and Qualifications

Employers look for diesel mechanics to have a minimum of three years of engine experience, a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and vocational certification in diesel automotive technology. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
  • Diesel automotive repair - diesel mechanics diagnose, repair and overhaul large, equipment while on the job
  • Troubleshooting - ability to troubleshoot and repair mechanical problems is critical for diesel mechanics
  • Computer operation - diesel technicians increasingly use computer related systems and diagnostic tools in their repair process
  • Physical requirements - diesel mechanics have to perform tasks requiring heavy physical effort such as lifting, moving heavy equipment, etc.
  • Communication skills - oral and written communication skills are necessary for diesel mechanics to read technical manuals and write report
  • Customer service - successful diesel mechanics provide customers with high-quality customer service
  • Leadership skills - some diesel mechanics are responsibility for crew management and supervision

Diesel Mechanic Education and Training

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent and a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). An associate's degree or certification in diesel technology, and a minimum of 3 years of automotive experience makes candidates even more attractive. Since diesel technology is increasing in complexity, many technicians take continuing education courses to stay on top of new developments.

Diesel Mechanic Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for diesel mechanics is $46,360. The lowest ten percent of earners make less than $30,400. The highest ten percent of earners make more than $69,870. The BLS projects industry employment of diesel mechanics to increase by 9 percent through 2026, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. As freight is shipped across the country, more trucks will be needed to carry cargo. Diesel cars and trucks are increasing in popularity, and more diesel technicians will be needed to repair these vehicles.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a diesel mechanic. Here are resources to help you connect with others and learn whether becoming one is right for you.

Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS) - the leading trade association of the diesel industry operators working worldwide, dedicated to the highest level of service on diesel fuel injection and related systems

Automotive Service Association (ASA) - association of automotive shop owners with networking, resources, for professionals who work in the profession

Medium/Heavy Duty Truck Engines, Fuel & Computerized Management Systems - a comprehensive guide to highway diesel engines and their management electronic systems that will help you prepare you for your career success

Troubleshooting and Repair of Diesel Engines - discover the process of repairing and maintaining diesel engines and fuel systems that make use of alternative fuels to build your skills and as a diesel mechanic

Modern Diesel Technology: Heavy Equipment Systems 2nd Edition - construction equipment, and mining equipment each have different maintenance and repair requirements. Learn the skills you need to transition to work on repairing heavy equipment

Automotive Trucking Association (ATA) - join more than 37,000 members representing the interest of the trucking and diesel industry

"Diesel and Power Industry Associations & Organizations" - a list of the non-profit trade associations and organizations that help to support the diesel and power generation industry

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