Publisher: AMSI
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I use maths every day, though mostly I’m not aware of it. I measure threads on engine parts, engine sizes and capacity of engines for oil. I do a lot of unit conversion from imperial to metric and use estimation skills for quotations and logic skills for fault diagnosis. I also write up invoices and calculate GST.

My favourite subject at school was art. I struggled with algebra, but now I can see how maths relates to what I do. I regret not doing more maths at school. I have had to learn the hard way, picking up the maths I needed along the way.

You absolutely have to do a heap of maths to get into this industry now, mainly because vehicles are so electronically reliant. You need electronic skills as well as mechanical skills. A good maths background will give you a head start.

“There is plenty of maths involved in being a motor mechanic, from brake sizes measured in millimetres to clearances in the motor measured in thousandths of an inch. Another aspect of the work is matching gear ratios, differential ratios and expected top speed with the revs for peak power of the engine. You need to know the maths so the car runs at its best.”
– Trent Harrison, Motor Mechanic, Monza Motors

Gearboxes and differentials involve ratios, determining car speed for a given engine speed. Suspension setting uses angles and geometry, affecting ease of driving and road holding. Wheel width and diameter are critical to performance – larger diameter discs give better braking. Maths and physics are involved with inlet manifolds and exhaust pipes, relating to wave motion in a tube. It is also important to have a good grip of the science of pressure and electrical resistance.

My favourite subjects were maths and physics because I learned about speed and all sorts of things that relate back to cars. If you want to be a motor mechanic you really should do maths all the way through school to Year 12.

I love being a mechanic, working on cars and seeing the end result. I’ve raced all sorts of cars from Alfa Romeos to Formula cars. I’m very lucky!

The Maths: Make your career count series was produced by AMSI and funded by the Australian Government under The Improving Mathematics in Schools (TIMES) project. Visit the Maths: Make your career count website at

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