Automotive Engineer (Car & Light Commercial)


An automotive engineer checks and repairs cars, vans, trucks and other vehicles and their parts.

Tasks and Duties:

  • discusses faults with customers
  • test-drives vehicles to listen for faults
  • checks vehicles for faults
  • dismantles engines or other parts requiring attention
  • orders replacement parts
  • repairs or replaces any faulty parts
  • services vehicles
  • changes the oil of vehicles
  • greases the necessary parts of vehicles
  • adjusts engines so that cars run more smoothly
  • carries out Warrant of Fitness checks
  • certifies new and used imports first entering service
  • certifies modified vehicles to safety standards
  • test-drives repaired vehicles
  • ensures harzardous wastes are disposed of appropriately


Automotive engineers need good mechanical skills, an eye for detail and skill in diagnosing mechanical and electrical problems.


Automotive engineers need to know about vehicle engines and parts, automotive electronics and NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi  regulations and safety standards. They also need to understand how all the parts of the vehicle work together.

Personal Qualities:

Automotive engineers should be practical, responsible, alert and adaptable. They also need to have a good memory and good people skills.

Physical Requirements:

Automotive engineers need to have a strong back and a good level of fitness. They also need good hand-eye co-ordination and good hearing.

Educational Requirements:

Automotive engineers must have at least three years’ secondary education with NCEA Level 1 in English, maths, science, graphics, and workshop technology NCEA Level 2 in the same subjects is often an advantage.

Entry Requirements:

Successful completion of the National Certificate for Entry to Automotive Trades course is recommended before beginning an apprenticeship. These courses may be offered at your local polytechnic and are effectively the first year of your apprenticeship. Apprentices also need to have a current driver’s license.

Useful Experience

Useful experience includes electrical work, service station work and an interest in motor vehicles.

Training on the job

Practical skills are gained on the job. Apprentices or trainees learn the theory knowledge required through correspondence and block courses in automotive engineering and gain a Level 4 National Certificate in Automotive Engineering on completion of their apprenticeship.

Work Places

Automotive engineers usually work in garages and workshops. They work alone and in a team. They have a lot of contact with the public, and may co-operate with other garages, specialist repairers and parts suppliers.

Further Information

Employment opportunities in this occupation are stable in Southland. Staff turnover is low in most workplaces, as it is a stable job at a time when there has been a shortage of work in the region. This overall picture is not expected to change in the next five years.

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