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The Math Requirements for Diesel Mechanics

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Diesel mechanics maintain and repair diesel engines on a variety of machinery, including farm equipment, building site machinery and automobiles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects are good for qualified diesel mechanics who have completed training through a community college, trade or technical school. National certification can enhance those prospects. Diesel mechanics use mathematics in a variety of ways on the job.

Technical Manuals

According to the University of Missouri, diesel mechanics need basic mathematics to read and understand technical manuals. Basic math involves addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.


Diesel mechanics work with liquid engine components, so they need to be able to perform basic unit conversions like metric to imperial. For example, if a mechanic has a 12 liter tank, but the liquids come in gallons, he needs to be able to convert between gallons and liters.

Technical Skills

More and more diesel vehicles are being built with computers. Computers make a mechanic’s job easier in some ways (for example, they can pinpoint a problem area), but in other ways, they make the job more technically and mathematically challenging. For example, if the manufacturer does not list resistance or other component value, the mechanic will have to make that calculation using an equation like R=V/P, where R=total resistance, V=total voltage and P=total power.

Instrument Use

A diesel mechanic uses a variety of tools that need mathematics. For example, engine bolts need to be tightened in a certain order and at a certain angle. Diesel mechanics must also be able to use instruments like a micrometer, which is used to measure the outside diameter of a sphere or cylinder. Other equipment used that involves math includes a gas analyzer, which measures gasses found in exhaust, requiring knowledge of percentages and ranges. For example, the range of carbon monoxide reported by a gas analyzer might be 0 to 4000 parts per million with a 2 percent accuracy. It is vital for a mechanic to know what this means in terms of vehicle analysis.


Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.

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