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Consumer Repair Guide

If you still assume your car is serviced by a grease monkey or Vo-Tech grad that lacked career options, your thinking is as out-of-date as a Model T. Auto repair is now a high-tech industry. Today's car has more computing power than the spacecrafts used in the Apollo missions.

The "shade tree mechanic" is no more. Today's technician is in a demanding and rapidly changing profession. And to stay in a very competitive business, a shop must be operated as a business committed to quality service, control of overhead, and good customer relations.

Consumers willing to improve their communication with technicians can ensure that repair facilities deliver reliable work at a fair price. A spirit of partnership speeds accurate diagnosis and saves you money.

What Do Certifications Mean?

Since 1972, the ASE certification has been awarded by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. This independent, non-profit institute certifies professional service and repair technicians and parts specialists. The ASE tests are held twice a year and represent a real investment in both time and money for a technician.

There are 42 different certifications. Only individuals with two years of hands-on experience are eligible for certification. Technicians who attain certification in all automotive areas receive the title of Master Certified Automotive Technician. The certification does not cover facilities, just individuals. However, a repair facility that has a Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition has 75 percent or more of its service and repair professionals ASE certified. To find such a facility, check online at

To remain certified, repair professionals must be re-tested every five years. Tests encompass real-world, on-the-job skills questions on current technology.

There are more than 420,000 ASE-certified professionals working in dealerships, garages, collision shops, refinish and repair shops, retail parts outlets, service stations, and specialty shops. Facilities usually post technicians' ASE credentials. If you don't see posted certifications, ask.

Other certifications may come from manufacturers or I-Car. Manufacturers' certifications may or may not require a test at the end of training. However, the manufacturers realize the importance of delivering quality service, and the training programs deliver the needed skills to accomplish this task. I-Car certification, in addition to ASE, is the recognized certification for collision repair facilities.