When you take your car or truck to a repair shop to have it serviced, look for a shop that employees ASE certified technicians. The ASE program is administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), and was founded back in 1972 as a voluntary certification program for automotive technicians. The alternative would have been government licensing of technicians. The voluntary program has turned out to be a great success, with over 300,000 technicians currently holding one or more certifications in the 40 different test categories that ASE offers.
Automotive technicians who pass various ASE tests earn the right to wear the ASE patch on their uniform. The also get a certificate to display on the wall.
Master Automotive Technicians are those who have passed all 8 automotive tests (A1 through A8).
Master Medium/Heavy Truck Technicians are those who have passed the T2 through T8 truck certification tests.
The tests cover various aspects of auto repair, including:
A1 - Engine Repair
A2 - Automatic Transmission and Transaxles
A3 - Manual Drivetrain and Axles
A4 - Suspension and Steering
A5 - Brakes
A6 - Electrical and Electronic Systems
A7 - Heating and Air Conditioning
A8 - Engine Performance
A9 - Light Vehicle Diesel Engines
There are also specialty tests for Truck technicians (T2 through T8), Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles (F1), Exhaust Systems (X1), and Automotive Service Consultant (C1). ASE also offers additional tests for Automotive Parts Specialists (P2), collision repair, paint and body technicians, school bus technicians, diesel technicians and machinists.
Each test covers basic operating, diagnostic and repair principles for that subject, including common knowledge that a technician should know and be competent in to work on today's vehicles. The questions are written by experts and reviewed to assure they cover the subject material accurately.
To pass a test, a technician must usually answer at least 85 percent of the questions correctly. A test may contain 40 to 70 questions depending on the subject (and they are different each time the test is administered). The questions are difficult because only two out of three technicians pass their test the first time.
Once certified, the certification remains valid for five years. After that, the technician must retake the tests to remain current, otherwise their certification lapses.
ASE certification is only available to working technicians, not do-it-yourselfers. If you are an automotive technician who would like to register for a test, you can do so online at ASE's website, or by calling 1-877-346-9327.
To monitor consumer awareness of the ASE program, ASE conducted 300 interviews in seven metro markets to find out how aware people are of ASE and what it stands for.
When asked to list "any group that offers certifications", 16% of the respondents mentioned Underwriters Laboratories (UL), 13% mentioned AAA, and only 11% mentioned ASE.
Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they recognized the ASE logo (men were twice as likely as women to recognize the ASE logo) -- but only 17% could explain what it meant. Consequently, ASE realizes it has to do more to educate consumers about technician certification is all about, and why it is of benefit to them.
When consumers were asked what they want in the technician who repairs their car, 23% said they want a technician who knows how to diagnose their problem, 21% said they want a technician who has experience, and 21% said they want a technician who is certified or qualified.
Consumers were then asked to describe how they feel when they take their vehicle in for service or repairs. Some of the words and phrases they said were:
It is interesting to note that other surveys have found that about 80% of all vehicles that are brought into a repair facility for service are brought in by women. Because of this, repair shop employees should make every effort to be helpful, understanding and sympathetic.
ASE's Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program extends special recognition to repair shops that have 75% or more of their technicians ASE certified and have at least one technician certified in each repair service category that is offered. Qualifying companies receive a wall plaque, door stickers, counter mat, brochures, code of ethics, media kit and more. The application fee is $175, and must be renewed annually.
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (ASE's educational arm) certifies education programs that meet NATEF criteria. Over 1400 secondary and post-secondary training programs have achieved NATEF certification. So if a technician needs advanced training, visit the NATEF website at http://www.natef.org for a list of schools and locations. NATEF's phone number is 703-713-0100.