The aim of Car Mechanic Simulator 2014 is to find problems in a car by examining parts and performing tests, identify the damaged parts, and replace or repair them. The game contains a 'career' mode containing 75 orders across three garages, which unlocks an endless mode and a special vehicle when completed.
8 vehicles of different kinds are included (such as a SUV, van and sportscar); vehicles have nearly one hundred replaceable parts, which share some similarities but are not entirely identical (4WD versus 2WD, V4 versus V6 engines, and so on). Orders range from the specific to the unhelpful, from fixing damage from a pothole, making a teenager's first car run better, doing a general examination, replacing stolen parts, tuning a car for racing, and the dreaded "my car made a strange noise and now it doesn't start".
The player takes the place of an unnamed (and invisible) mechanic. Gameplay generally takes place in first person, though for convenience the game camera can be moved through the car. No people are ever visible during the game, with the objectives given as a 'request/invoice' form.
Despite the 'Simulator' title, the game is closer to a puzzle, with the majority of objectives involving the identification and fixing of broken or damaged car parts. Each removeable part has a quality rating (from 0 to 100%, where 100% is perfect condition), with low ratings representing either damage or deterioration. Most parts can be examined while attached to the car, though some have to be removed for their rating to become visible. In turn, removing a part sometimes requires 'unbolting', and some can only be accessed when other parts are removed (e.g. removing a wheel to access the brakes and axle). Parts with very low qualities also have a different 'rusted' appearance that can help to identify them before the proper examination.
The player has access to two tools to speed up the examination process - an OBD Link that automatically examines most parts of the engine, and (except in the first garage) a 'Diagnostic Path' that tests the car's braking and suspension. The latter also provides a summary of each wheel's ratings as it is performed.
New parts can be bought 'online' via a computer in the garage from two stores - one that sells all parts at 100% quality, and a much cheaper store with a limited range that sells secondhand (lesser quality) parts. Parts are available immediately after purchase. A smaller range of car parts can also be repaired directly at another workbench - this costs money, but is always cheaper than buying new. Players can also sell car parts for a small amount, reaching a maximum of half the new cost when selling a part in perfect condition.
Access to parts is only via specific points on the car - the engine area, the four wheels, and the undercarriage; the undercarriage is only available when the car is raised, and others are only available when the car is on the floor. Parts can only be accessed from one point.
Aside from repair, the player can also change the oil (a several-step process involving the oilpan, which is the only moveable object in the garage, and indirect measuring of the level with a dipstick as in real engines), tune engine performance with a small untimed minigame, and perform test drives. Test drives can only be done if the car is driveable (no parts missing, and engine in acceptable condition), and takes place on a small car park lined with cones. It includes tests for acceleration, braking, slalom (steering) and suspension. While the different types of cars perform differently the quality of parts has no effect on performance - for instance, sounds mentioned in the objectives won't be heard, engines will always start first time and run perfectly, and cars will always drive in a straight line.
The player can spend extra money on upgrades at the computer, with four choices: earn more income, pay less for car parts, examine some car parts automatically, and bolt/unbolt faster. Upgrades cost $1000 each and have ten levels.
Simulation Realism - Anecdotal Accuracy
Despite common stories of unethical behaviour from mechanics, the game forces you to be honest. Payment is made at the start of each order and can only be increased via the upgrades, although it is always enough to complete the order; replacing parts unrelated to the objectives or parts that were already in good condition simply costs the player money and can't be charged for. Swapping good parts for more damaged ones is possible, but as the career mode is preset and endless mode is random it means the driver won't have to return to get it fixed (or has it fixed if they do come back). It's also impossible to proceed to the next order if any car parts are not installed, so while players could theoretically sell parts from a car they should be repairing, they would have to buy replacements for more money. Players also can't simply lie about completing the objectives.
Computers are used to access the internet (for the online car parts shops and upgrades) and for car tuning. The computer system is simulated with scrollable and closeable (but not resizeable) browser windows and mouse-click sounds when the player clicks their real mouse. Each of the accessible websites has a visible address, though only one has a real website and it is owned by a different game company.
One computer also has a seemingly-functional command line, though it disappears when any command is entered.