Why is it difficult for an auto tech to switch to heavy equipment?

Mechanics Hub Forums Career + Skills New to the Trade/Getting Started Why is it difficult for an auto tech to switch to heavy equipment?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  John Whelan 4 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #25315 Reply


    I was just curious as to why it is so difficult for an auto tech to switch over to heavy equipment more so than a truck guy getting into heavy equipment?

    #26323 Reply

    John Whelan

    If you have a good mechanical aptitude and some basic training this type of transition would be much easier. Auto Techs would have to adapt to heavier machinery and totally different operating systems like hydraulics, pneumatics and diesel engines.

    With all due respect I’ve worked in automotive as well and the transition would be difficult for me adapting to the auto trade. The trades are getting so specialized now any change would be hard.

    Experience is the determining factor on how well crossing trades would go.

    #26326 Reply

    I think a lot of auto techs or gas mechanics as we heavy duty guy call them are not used to the complex hydraulic and air systems used on modern machines but I found they have an excellent grasp of electronic diagnostic tooling.

    #27379 Reply

    Most everything you deal with is big and heavy and usually dirty.You have to adapt to working in extreme enviroments and if you are a fielld service tech you must be self reliant.It’s all nuts and bolts though and if you have a grasp of the basics you can apply them to any mechanical system.

    #27377 Reply

    HD mechanic = rain in your face, wind in your back, dirt on your hands – in the middle of nowhere (but great satisfactions, sometimes). I love my job, and I will do it as long as I can!

    #27378 Reply

    Ed Curry

    I’m trying to make the transition right now, as said above “rain in your face, wind in your back, dirt on your hands” that’s why I want to switch into HD equip.

    #27373 Reply

    When they told you you’d be “outstanding in your field”‘, i’ll bet you didn’t think you’d be out standing in the field, alone, dark, cold and cursing a blue streak ’cause something ain’t working right. Ah ya, the joys of the field mechanic. Don’t forget the pounding rain that’s soaking your tool box making those tools turn neat colours. Yup, good times.

    #27374 Reply

    John Whelan

    I think anybody in the auto trade could adapt to HD (I’m talking commercial transport as well). If you have aptitude and can look at something mechanical you will be able to see how it works. I’ve worked with auto guys in our fleet shop who do both trades and they don’t have a problem. Another school district I keep in contact with just hired an automotive mechanic because they could not find a commercial transport mechanic. So they were willing to train the new hire . Attitude and aptitude goes hand in hand.

    #27370 Reply

    i agree with John Whelan as a someone as mechanical aptitude they can make the transition. The big difference is that the auto tech will have to get used to the dirt, grease,and weight of the parts. Also a lot of auto techs that I have spoken with say they prefer the bigger equipment due to the extra available space to work.

    #27372 Reply

    ahm !! well some heavy equipment got complex hydraulics system, i think its not that far from auto tech, cause the principles of the power unit, the transmissions, power trains , it all started small and then the community needs bigger ones to do bigger jobs so they enlarge everything from transmission to engines even tires. 😀

    #27367 Reply

    Ron Mellor

    As a long time HD I can confirm the dirt, rain snow and some times hiail in your face.,Never mind the minus 40. I have worked in the oil patch all over the world as a field mechanic for more years than I would like to admit to. I really see no reason an automi.ve mechanic could not transition. The only obstacle I can forsee is the self reliance and the ingenuity to make it work. You can’t just call NAPA and have the part delivered by lunch. You have to be creative and be abLe to scab a field repair to get the customer through the job. If I was to attempt a transition to automotive I would have a hard time making the transition, not from lack of skill but lack of mechanical creativeness . But that’s just me.

    #29329 Reply


    Hi Everyone,
    I know this is an older post but I figured I’d comment anyhow. I actually just jumped into the HD side of things from automotive and started with the local school division repairing their fleet. Two days in and Yes I do see some some differences so far with the weight of things and the wiring does not seem as refined as in the automotive side of things. I was thinking it was time for a change of pace and I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to learn something new. The nice thing about diving into this now compared to 20 years ago when I started into automotive is that there are these great sites out there and lots of training resources available. I’ll be taking HD at the local college, I’ve never advised any apprentice that worked for me to challenge their ticket and I’m going to go do the schooling. Hey we’re never too old to learn and I don’t mind going to school and being an apprentice again, at least this time around I already have my tools and wages while going to school.

    #29331 Reply

    John Whelan

    Welcome to the trade you’re going to like it. We recently hired a 20 year GM mechanic who really knew his Duramax and wiring. On his resume he had a lot of GM training which I know all about working for a GM dealer for 7 years. They have to keep their techs trained on the latest technology to uphold their dealer status.

    Anyways our new mechanic adapted to school buses like a duck to water. The only change is the larger components and different engineering with ABS , diesels, electrical and transmissions but the principles are the same. He loves his new job partly because of the straight time wages and less stress. I admire you for getting schooled for HD and I hope everything goes smoothly .

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