Diesel Mechanic Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Diesel Mechanic, or Diesel Service Technician, inspects, diagnoses and repairs diesel-powered vehicles and machines, like trucks, forklifts and trailers. Their main duties include running diagnostic tests on vehicles, replacing the vehicles’ engine, transmission, steering mechanism or braking system and test driving the vehicle to determine if they properly fixed the maintenance issue.

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Diesel Mechanic duties and responsibilities

Diesel Mechanics collaborate with other repair team members to ensure a vehicle is safely and efficiently operating to the driver’s needs. They often have the following duties and responsibilities: 

  • Consulting the customer and reading work orders to evaluate the tasks required
  • Preparing work plans after fully scoping out the issues
  • Running diagnostic tests on diesel engines and interpreting the results to offer suitable solutions
  • Inspecting vehicle systems, including suspensions, steering and exhausts
  • Repairing or replacing vehicle transmissions, brakes, engines and other associated parts
  • Conducting field visits in the case of an emergency or sudden breakdown
  • Test driving repaired vehicles to gauge their performance
  • Completing oil changes, wheel balancing, alignment and brake checks
  • Maintaining records of parts inventory and serviced vehicles
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What does a Diesel Mechanic do?

Diesel Mechanics typically work in repair shops, diagnosing and fixing mechanical problems on diesel-fueled vehicles and larger machines. They work with customers to understand the issue with their vehicle, determine what is needed to fix the car and develop a method for repairing it. Once they fix the vehicle, they perform preventive measures and techniques to keep the problem from reoccurring. 

Diesel Mechanics often take inventory of parts for different vehicles and keep detailed records of all the vehicles they’ve serviced. Many Diesel Mechanics are also responsible for keeping the entire shop tidy and organized.

Diesel Mechanic skills and qualifications

Diesel Mechanics use a variety of technical and soft skills to provide the most comprehensive repair solutions they can, including:

  • Advanced knowledge of a vehicle, its electrical system and the mechanisms of a diesel engine
  • In-depth knowledge of diesel engine components and operational mechanisms
  • Superior knowledge of maintenance tools and repair equipment
  • Comfortable using mechanical and electrical power tools
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Basic knowledge of computer systems and other relevant electronics
  • Proficiency in the use of diesel engine diagnostic software
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Effective collaboration and communication skills

Diesel Mechanic salary expectations

A Diesel Mechanic earns an average of $24.03 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of education, experience and geographical location.

Diesel Mechanic education and training requirements

The minimum education requirement for a Diesel Mechanic is a high school diploma or GED and certification and training in diesel engine repair from a vocational school or a community college. Training modules include drive trains, preventive maintenance, inspection, engine architecture and electronic systems. The most recognized and preferred certification is from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence for Diesel Mechanics with at least two years of work experience. Some candidates may have a degree in mechanical or automotive engineering, which also provides more in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge related to diesel engine repair.

Diesel Mechanic experience requirements

Entry-level Diesel Mechanics may have completed the practical learning experiences required to earn their vocational certification, while others may have one to three years of professional experience. Some candidates may also have completed an apprenticeship with an experienced Diesel Mechanic where they observed and practiced assessment and repair strategies under supervision. Other candidates may have completed or are willing to complete a company’s on-the-job training or apprenticeship program in which they observe and work under the supervision of an experienced, in-house Diesel Mechanic.

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Frequently asked questions about Diesel Mechanics

 

What's the difference between a Diesel Mechanic and an Auto Mechanic?

Though they both operate on and repair vehicles, Diesel and Auto Mechanics differ due to the types of vehicles they work on. A Diesel Mechanic inspects and fixes larger trucks and equipment that operates on diesel fuel. They usually fix larger equipment that workers use to complete heavy-duty tasks. Auto Mechanics work primarily on personal cars for their customers, diagnosing, repairing and inspecting vehicles, like SUVs and sedans. They mainly repair cars fueled by gas, rather than diesel-powered vehicles. 

 

What makes a good Diesel Mechanic?

Great Diesel Mechanics must be strong communicators, as they regularly work with team members and customers to uncover the issue with a vehicle and determine a strategy to fix it. They must also have critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to develop creative and valuable solutions to complex car maintenance problems. 

Extensive knowledge in and experience working with vehicles is important for strong candidates to have, as they must know how certain parts of a vehicle work and which tools they need to repair it. Strong organizational and time management skills are also necessary, as they must regularly keep inventory of tools and parts and they must prioritize their large number of maintenance tasks accordingly.  

 

Who do Diesel Mechanics report to?

The person a Diesel Mechanic reports to often depends on the setting they work in. For larger mechanic shops with a team of Diesel Mechanics, they usually have a Diesel Mechanic Manager or a Shop Manager who builds their schedules and oversees the productivity of Diesel Mechanics. They also usually have experience working as a Diesel Mechanic themselves, so the Diesel Mechanic may go to them for any advice or guidance for overcoming a complex maintenance issue. 

If they’re working in a smaller repair shop, the Diesel Mechanic may report directly to the shop owner for any questions, concerns or comments while on the job. 

 

What are the different types of Diesel Mechanics?

There are two main types of Diesel Mechanics. A general Diesel Mechanic works primarily on diesel engines, providing basic repairs and fixes to a variety of vehicles. Diesel Technicians work more closely with the computers in a vehicle to diagnose and resolve its maintenance issues. They may also use welding equipment to resolve any electrical problems happening to a vehicle. Some Diesel Mechanics receive the necessary education and training to perform both basic mechanical and complex technical repairs.

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