Career and Job Search Guide

Small Engine Mechanic and Repairer

Small engine mechanics maintain machines with small engines. Mechanics often specialize in a certain engine or piece of equipment, but most repair all types of machines.

When a piece of equipment needs to be repaired, mechanics utilize a variety of techniques to determine the problem. Talented mechanics can usually determine and fix a problem quickly, so they must have problems solving skills and a detailed knowledge of the motors they repair.

Some jobs are simple, only requiring one new part or small adjustment, while some jobs require hours of work such as an engine replacement or refurbishment. Mechanics with special training and skills use computer and other technology to tune motorboats and motorcycles engineered to be used for races.

A mechanic's handtools are his or her most vital instruments. Small engine mechanics regularly utilize handtools. Mechanics often use tools they own, but the companies they work for provide computer diagnostic and analyzing equipment and power tools. Computerized diagnostic and other equipment used for analyzing engines assist mechanics tuning and conducting engine diagnostic work. These machines provide reports about the machine's different systems. Once the problem has been located, mechanic perform the necessary repairs.

A small engine must undergo preventative maintenance if it is to continue to operate efficiently. During regular maintenance intervals, mechanics use a checklist to inspect and fine tune major engine systems, often replacing warn out parts.

Motorcycle mechanics maintain motorcycles, ATVs, and other vehicles with small engines. Aside from engines, motorcycle mechanics often work on other components such as transmissions. Mechanics working for dealerships usually specialize in motorcycles sold at the dealership, so most mechanics only perform repairs for certain brands and models.

Motorboat mechanics, often referred to as marine equipment mechanics, perform maintenance on boat motors. Small boats usually contain outboard engines which can be taken off and transported to the shop. Large cruisers and ships used for commercial fishing carry inboard gas and diesel engines only removed during engine renovations, so the majority of repairs are conducted at marinas. Boat mechanics also fix steering systems, propellers, and other boat parts. Outdoor power equipment specialists repair lawnmowers, chainsaws, and other machines used for landscaping and gardening. Furthermore, some of these mechanics work on snowmobiles and machines used for snow removal snowmobiles, but their services are usually only needed during the winter.

Work environment. Mechanics who work on small engines usually do so in safe shops filled with loud engines. Boat mechanics often work outside in bad weather, sometimes positioned uncomfortably to work on an engine. Mechanics specializing in outdoor equipment repairs often work in similar circumstances during on-site maintenance.

During winter in the North and the Mid-west, mechanics usually work less than 40 hours a week because people are generally not riding their motorcycles or using their boats, so mechanics only work more than 40 hours a week in spring and summer. Sometimes mechanics refurbish engines or repair snowmobiles during the winter months. When there is huge demand for repairs, mechanics usually work overtime.