Finding a competent auto
technician need not be a matter of chance. Much of the
guesswork has been eliminated, thanks to national
program conducted by the non-profit National Institute
for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
ASE tests and certifies automotive
professionals in all major technical areas of repair and
service. With nearly 400,000 currently certified
professionals, the ASE program is national in scope and
has industry-wide acceptance and recognition.
ASE-certified professionals can be found at every type
of repair facility, from dealerships, service stations,
and franchises to parts stores, independent garages, and
even municipal fleets.
ASE certifies the technical competence of individual
technicians, not repair facilities. Prior to taking ASE
certification tests, many technicians attend training
classes or study on their own in order to brush up on
their knowledge. By passing difficult, national tests,
ASE-certified technicians prove their technical
competence to themselves, to their employers, and to
their customers. Moreover, shop owners and managers who
encourage their employees to become certified can be
counted on to be concerned about the other aspects of
How Certification Works
About 100,000 technicians sit for ASE tests each May and
November at over 750 locations. Technicians who pass at
least one exam and fulfill the two-year work experience
requirement become ASE-certified. Those who pass a
battery of exams (and fulfill the experience
requirement) earn Master Technician status.
The tests, developed by industry
experts with oversight from ASE's own in-house pros, are
administered by ACT, the same group known for its
college entrance exams.
There are specialty exams covering
all major areas of repair. There are eight tests for
auto technicians alone: Engine Repair, Engine
Performance, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Brakes,
Heating and Air Conditioning, Suspension and Steering,
Manual Drive Train and Axles, and Automatic
Transmissions. (There are also exams for collision
repair technicians, engine machinists, parts
specialists, and others.)
ASE requires technicians to
re-test every five years to keep up with technology and
to remain certified. All ASE credentials have expiration
Repair establishments with at least one ASE technician
are permitted to display the ASE sign. Each ASE
professional is issued personalized credentials listing
his or her exact area(s) of certification and an
appropriate shoulder insignia. Technicians are also
issued certificates that employers often post in the
customer-service area. Employers often display the blue
and white ASE sign as well. Businesses with a high level
of commitment to ASE (75 percent of service personnel
certified) are entitled to a special "Blue Seal of
Excellence" recognition from ASE.
Choosing the Right
As with other professionals, automotive technicians
often specialize. So it's wise to ask the shop owner or
service manager for a technician who is certified in the
appropriate area, say, brakes, engine repair, or air
For a free brochure on
how to select a repair shop, send a business-sized,
self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Choosing the Right
Repair Shop, ASE, Dept. W-6, 101 Blue Seal Dr., Suite
101, Leesburg, VA 20175.
Choosing a Repair Shop
Here are some tips from the nonprofit National Institute
for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) on finding a
good repair establishment:
- Start shopping for a repair
facility before you need one.
- Ask friends and associates
for recommendations; consult local consumer
- Arrange for alternate
transportation in advance so you will not feel
forced to choose a shop based solely on location.
- Look for a neat,
well-organized facility, with vehicles in the
parking lot equal in value to your own and modern
equipment in the service bays.
- Look for a courteous staff,
with a service writer willing to answer all of your
- Look for policies regarding
labor rates, diagnostic fees, guarantees, acceptable
methods of payment, etc.
- Ask if the repair facility
specializes or if it usually handles your type of
- Look for signs of
professionalism in the customer service area such as
civic, community, or customer service awards.
- Look for evidence of
qualified technicians: trade school diplomas,
certificates of advanced course work, and
certification by ASE.
- Reward good service with
repeat business and customer loyalty.