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How do you know if you need a mechanic or an auto electrician?

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Updated 11 Oct 2019

Joel Ilton

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The modern-day motor vehicle relies on its electrical systems almost as much as the engine under the bonnet to keep it running smoothly. From the headlights to the battery & starter motor and everything in between, electrical components are necessary for correct function. So when a problem arises, should you be taking your vehicle to your mechanic, or is there someone more specialised in the electrical side of things who would be a better option?

This is where the auto electrician comes in. In Australia, there are two main automotive trades for light vehicles, such as passenger cars. These trades are known as Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology and Automotive Electrical Technology. As their names suggest, each one is specific to either the mechanical or electrical side of repairs. However, most light vehicle mechanics are also trained in the basics of automotive electrical systems.

The automotive electrical trained technicians are more specialised, focussing on fault finding, as well as installation of electrical accessories and air conditioning diagnosis and repair.

So how do you know when to take your vehicle to a mechanic or an auto electrician? This depends on the work you are looking to have carried out, or the fault that has occurred.

If you have an issue with a mechanical component, such as the engine, suspension or transmission, your best bet is to take it to your local mechanic, or use AutoGuru to search and book with one of our highly rated mechanics. They will be able to diagnose the problem and provide you with a quote for any repairs or replacement that is necessary. They can also look into basic electrical problems, however, their knowledge on the complex electrical components may be lacking depending on their training and workshop equipment.

If you have an issue with an electronic component or are looking to have aftermarket accessories installed on your vehicle, then an auto electrician should be your first port of call. They are better trained to diagnose electrical concerns, and can even diagnose and repair your air conditioning or fit up reversing cameras and electronic brake controllers for your towbar.

As vehicles become loaded with more and more technology, specialist training is required to carry out repairs and upgrades on these systems, and auto electricians are the best suited to tackle these kind of jobs. Their workshops tend to have the correct electrical component testing equipment and diagnostic tools to communicate with the various modules located in your vehicle. There are also mobile auto electricians, who can come to your home or office and carry out repairs and diagnosis.

Some workshops will employ both mechanics and auto electricians, making them a true one-stop-shop for any repairs or replacement needed on your vehicle, regardless of if it is electrical or mechanical. Whether it’s a classic car or the latest electric or hybrid vehicle, you can rest assured that - when the time comes, the aftermarket industry will be well equipped to carry out any repairs and get you back on the road safely.

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.