Thanks to changing technology, the words “auto technician” no longer have a generic definition. If you’re doing outside sales, you might notice that the profit center for one shop might be undercar services while in another shop, it might be driveability and emissions system diagnosis. And don’t overlook the fact that while one shop is servicing and repairing heavy-duty trucks, another might be dabbling in the emerging hybrid/electric vehicle market.
In any case, it pays in the most literal sense to know where your dealer accounts and service technicians are focusing their service efforts. One very quick method for learning who your customers are is to observe the types of ASE certifications displayed in customer waiting rooms and around the shop’s service desks. Most shops not only proudly display their owner’s and service writer’s ASE certifications, but those of their technicians as well.
And as you might suspect, some new and unfamiliar ASE certifications will be displayed. With that said, let’s take a look at what you might see on the walls of your wholesale accounts. Automobile Maintenance and Light Truck Repair The ASE A-series Automobile Maintenance and Light Truck Repair Certification Tests form the foundation of ASE’s automotive service testing.
To better explain, let’s take a look at the A1 through A8 mechanic’s certifications which include engine repair (A1), automatic transmission/transaxle (A2), manual drive train and axles (A3), suspension and steering (A4), brakes (A5), electrical/electronic systems (A6), heating and air conditioning (A7) and engine performance (A8).
As you can see, ASE has arranged these certifications into skill sets that reflect industry practice. To illustrate, an undercar technician might certify in suspension and steering (A4) and brakes (A5) while an engine diagnostic specialist might certify in electrical/electronic systems (A6), engine performance (A8) and light vehicle diesel engine (A9). Since the A9 light diesel test isn’t required for Master status, a technician certifying in the first eight skill sets would qualify as an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician (CMAT).
Additional certifications in these skill level categories might include the ASE Undercar Specialist Exhaust System (X1), which also requires a passing score on the A4 suspension and steering and the A5 brake tests as a prerequisite.
The technician must offer proof of two years of relevant work experience to earn the above certifications. A technician might also certify as an Automobile Service Consultant by successfully completing the ASE C1 test and meeting the two-year work experience requirement. Auto Maintenance and Light Repair As you might know, modern automobiles are now more reliable on a per-mile basis when compared with previous models.
And, due to that estimated vehicle reliability, approximately 70 to 80 percent of all automotive service now consists of routine maintenance and repairs. Consequently, ASE has responded to this trend in shop workflow by devising the G1 test, which represents entry-level skills typically found in many routine engine, transmission, suspension, steering, brake, electrical and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services. The test includes 55 questions with the majority focused on suspension, steering, and brake services.
Unlike the A-series certification, the G1 certification requires only one year of relevant work experience, 50 percent of which can be vocational training. The L1, L2 and L3 Tests Although advanced diagnostics don’t comprise a majority of workflow through most repair shops, advanced diagnostic skills are required for solving problems relating to advanced gasoline engine, diesel engine and hybrid or electrically-powered vehicle electronics. The Advanced Level Specialist L1 test is composed of questions focused on electronics diagnostic issues related to engine performance and exhaust emission problems. The L1 test is very intensive and fairly represents an individual technician’s ability to diagnose and repair difficult or unusual on-board electronics problems.
The A8 Engine Performance test is the prerequisite for the L1 certification test. Reflecting the impact of modern technology on diesel engines, the L2 Electronic Diesel Diagnosis Specialist test certifies technicians working on diesel engines equipped with electronically controlled fuel injection and turbocharging systems. Prerequisites include two years of documented experience and the technician having passed one of the A9, H2, S2, or T2 ASE diesel tests and one of the Electrical/Electronic Systems tests including the A6, H6, S6, or T6 ASE tests.
The ASE Light Duty Hybrid/ Electric Vehicle Specialist L3 test is designed to provide evidence of competence for safely servicing or repairing vehicles that typically run on nearly 300 battery volts. As prerequisites, the technician must document two years of experience and have passed the A6 Electrical/Electronic and the A8 Engine Performance tests. While the hybrid and electric vehicles represent only a small percentage of total vehicle population, every world-class automobile manufacturer is now marketing these vehicles.
As battery technology advances, we’re going to see more growth in this specialty market. Alternative Fuels Thanks to expanded natural gas recovery efforts, vehicles powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) are becoming more popular for short-range public fleet, taxi cab and truck transportation operations. The ASE Alternate Fuels (F1) certification test is designed for technicians servicing CNG vehicles.
The F1 test study guide includes questions from the A1 through A9 repair series, the C1 service consultant test and the X1 exhaust system test. Truck Certification Overview In brief, ASE offers several heavy-duty truck certification tests. The E-series tests include a Truck Equipment Installation and Repair (E1) Test. The E2 test includes Electrical/Electronic Systems Installation and Repair, and the E3 includes Auxiliary Power Systems Installation and Repair.
A Medium-Heavy Truck certification includes the T1-T8 tests, which include skill areas involved with diesel and gasoline engines, drive train, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, heating and air conditioning, and preventive maintenance for technicians servicing Class 4 through Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. A passing score on the T2-T7 is required for Master status. A School Bus certification series (S1-S7) also is available that covers the specific issues involved with school bus maintenance and repair. The Only Constant As you might conclude, the only constant in automotive service is change.
While the above ASE certification classifications are but a small part of what ASE offers, they represent not only how the automotive service industry is changing, but also how intensive and concentrated most skill levels have become. As tooling, training and information costs increase for the average shop, the more efficient and cost-effective it becomes for the average small shop to focus on core services.
If you’re working outside sales, you probably know that many of your dealer accounts specialize in core services like suspension, steering and brakes or in specific vehicle types like four-wheel drive trucks or in nameplates like Toyota or Volkswagen. Beginning with the A1 through A8 series tests first offered in 1972, ASE’s certification tests indeed reflect the changes in our industry. I began taking ASE tests in 1973 and have since continued to re-certify or upgrade as required.
My latest ASE L1 re-certification was administered through Prometric, which is a company specializing in computer-based testing. Despite some initial bad publicity, my testing session went very well in large part to the helpfulness of the Prometric staff. Personally, I like the look of an ASE certification hanging on the wall. When I walk into my favorite jobber store, I have greater confidence in the parts professional who has his or her Parts Specialist P-series certification displayed behind the service counter. If nothing else, ASE certification is all about confidence — confidence inspired by the parts or service professional who has taken the time and effort to earn his or her ASE Certifications.