Automotive Machinist

Automotive machinists are skilled metalworkers who build, assemble, and renew internal combustion engines and engine components according to manufacturer specifications. They perform a variety of machining operations on engines and engine components of used vehicles. 

When vehicle engines are worn out, they burn too much oil and fuel and have to be rebuilt. The engine is brought to the rebuilder, who dismantles the engine and the engine components according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

This process includes the dismantling and cleaning of the engine, grinding various parts and manufacturing and fitting others.  It is very important that the automotive machinists inspect all the components thoroughly for cracks and other faults, after which they clean and rebuild the parts where necessary.  When turning and fitting the different parts, the re-assembling of the engine’s substructure has to be carefully done, before the engine parts can be balanced. The engine is then ‘mounted’ and a dynamometer used to test whether the engine functions correctly.

The work is very precise and is usually carried out indoors, in well-equipped workshops. Working conditions can be somewhat dirty and noisy, as lathes, grinders, drilling and milling machines are used.

Automotive machinists are very well trained tradesmen, who work accurately.  As a result, they can work for different other industries, in addition to engine builders.


  • motor vehicle assembly factories

  • motor engineering industry

  • garages

  • independent workshops

  • motor manufacturing industry

  • organisations that maintain their own vehicles

  • government departments

Getting Started

  • make an appointment to speak to an automotive machinist about this type of career and ask to observe them at work

  • try to obtain vacation work in an automotive machine shop or in a garage

  • take shop courses to become familiar with the use of tools


Africa Institutional Management Services (AIMS), Boland TVET College, Coastal KZN TVET College, College of Cape Town , Eastcape Midlands TVET College, Ekurhuleni West TVET College, Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre, Lovedale Public TVET College, Motheo TVET College, Rundu Vocational Training Centre, Tshwane North TVET College, Valombola Vocational Training Centre (VVTC), Vuselela TVET College, Windhoek Vocational Training Centre

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