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Small engines powering motorcycles, motorboats, and outdoor power equipment share many characteristics with their larger counterparts, including breakdowns. Small engine mechanics repair and service power equipment ranging from racing motorcycles to chain saws.
Like large engines, small engines require periodic service to minimize the chance of breakdowns and to keep them operating at peak performance. During routine equipment maintenance, mechanics follow a checklist that includes the inspection and cleaning of brakes, electrical systems, fuel injection systems, plugs, carburetors, and other parts. Following inspection, mechanics usually repair or adjust parts that do not work properly or replace unfixable parts. Routine maintenance is normally a major part of the mechanic's work.
Small engine mechanics held about 67,000 jobs in 2002. Motorcycle mechanics held around 15,000 jobs. Motorboat mechanics held approximately 22,000 and outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics about 30,000. Almost half worked for other motor vehicle dealers, an industry that includes retail dealers of motorcycles, boats, and miscellaneous vehicles; or for retail hardware, lawn, and garden stores. Most of the remainder were employed by independent repair shops, marinas and boatyards, equipment rental companies, wholesale distributors, and landscaping services. About 15 percent were self-employed, compared to about 6 percent of workers in all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.