It used to be that you’d need a mechanic for car maintenance or repair. These days, it seems the word technician is more common — you’ve seen the signs that proclaim, “We employ ASE Certified Technicians.” Some people believe there’s been an increase in the rates they pay for a technician vs a mechanic. The question is: Are there any real differences between the two terms?
Mechanic or Technician Semantics
For some, the mechanic or technician debate is a question of semantics, like the difference between a garbage man and a sanitation engineer.
Some see the difference between mechanic and technician similarly, with the name “technician” associated to foster more respect for the trade. Unfortunately a stigma remains that mechanics are still seen as grubby knuckle-dragging grease-monkeys to some degree, which is totally misleading. Whoever is willing and able to address your car concerns, get dirty, and risk potential injury doing so is certainly respectable – but we think the debate goes deeper.
Mechanic or Technician: More Than a Fancy Name
Today, you will see a technician dressed in a clean uniform, maybe even a lab coat, doing the same job they have always done, but with a new patch. Even their ASE certificate says “Master Automotive Technician.” Does this make him somehow more than a mechanic? Depending on who you ask — this debate’s been going on for years — some may say that being a technician is the next evolution of being a mechanic.
For some, the main difference is how mechanics and technicians use their skills, that is, the difference between the mental and the physical — diagnosis and repair. If you tell a mechanic or technician to replace the front brakes, both would be able to do so, but if you ask why the front brakes needed to be changed, it is highly likely that the technician would be able to fully explain why.
Modern vehicles are much more complex than their older predecessors. With electronic control systems taking over what used to be controlled purely by mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems in the past, the modern automobile exposes the ever widening gap between the skills required to be considered a technician versus that of a mechanic. For example, a mechanic used to be able to simply rebuild front brakes to improve braking (worn pads can be diagnosed with a visual inspection), but a technician’s experience is required to be able to diagnose why the front brakes aren’t braking effectively using the vehicle’s computer systems. This could include troubleshooting problems with the electro-hydraulic brake booster, which requires understanding and use of scan tool diagnosis processes and data interpretation.
The fact of the matter is most all technicians are mechanics, but not all mechanics are technicians, in the strictest sense of the word.
In the end, does it really matter whether you visit a mechanic or a technician?
Really, no matter what they call themselves, the only important thing is that they reliably address your car concerns and are able to provide you with the trust and confidence needed for every maintenance or repair.
To find a competent and reliable mechanic or technician near you, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store, or visit the ASE Certified Technicians at your local NAPA AutoCare Center.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.