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
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.
Certification Benefits Motorists
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 their
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
Finding ASE-Certified Technicians
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
Choosing the Right Technician
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 conditioning.
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 Checklist
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 organizations.
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
Look for a courteous staff, with a service writer willing to answer all of your questions.
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 repair work.
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.
Go here to search for an ASE Blue Seal repair facility in your area: