ASE "Composite Vehicle"

In order to train and test mechanics in engine controls a ASE panel of experts have come up with a “composite vehicle” (it doesn’t exist it’s is just on paper)I wanted to list some aspects of how these experts equipped this vehicle.

1. V-6 sequential fire, chain driven four overhead cams, 24 valves distributorless ignition,coil over ignition with a mass airflow sensor.

2.No idle relearn after component replacement or dead battery

3.No starter disable by anti-theft system

4.Drive by wire throttle.

5.Electric throttle position

6.Variable position EGR

7.Engine misfire detection by CKP (remember the post yesterday?)

8.Brake pedal switch input (for TCC release

9.Thermostat position monitoring

10.PC based interface software

This composite vehicle is used for the ASE L1 Advanced engine performance test. Some may not believe in the value of ASE’s but they hit a home run on this one.

There are many more aspects to this vehicle but I am sure my audience is limited in size,many of our readers don’t have ant idea what these thins are,so I kept this realitive short.

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I’m one of those who do not put much credence into ASE exams and I’ve long since let all of mine lapse for the following reasons.

  1. I’ve been promised by past employers “get this, that, or the other certification and you’ll get a hefty raise”. Well, pass the tests and no raise was ever forthcoming. Asking about the previously promised raise usually led to amnesia on the part of the boss.
  2. Passing a multiple-choice test is not a sign of proficiency in any area because some of the finest techs I’ve worked with in the past cannot seem to pass an ASE exam to save their life. On the other hand, some people who really have no business turning wrenches may have the ability to randomly guess at the choices and pass.
    Many years ago I even passed one ASE test in an area in which my knowledge was close to zero.

This is only my humble opinion here, but I’m of the belief that the main purpose of ASEs are a PR ploy (signs and patches denote excellence) and the testing fees and renewal fees keep the powers that be at ASE in salaries and expense accounts.
Just my 2 cents anyway.

This one is quite different (L1) What I feel is that even if a man is good with his hands and has a good logical mind he still has to know these technical issues.The tests need only 70% to pass. I look at the tests and the prep material as the best way to get the technical side down. My College Automotive program Degrees are no better than ASE’s in guaranting competence and neither is WYTech or the BMW step-student program. Those guys have a 50K bill to pay and I can’t justify it.

I know you recieved your Master level Tech at your Dealerships myself I made it halfway at GM and halfway at BMW (as you know the who get’s sent to school is pretty political) and since I never will wrench professionally again I never will reach Master Level,but I can get Master Level ASE. The technical data that is presented is fascinating and vital for a drivability tech to know. It’s going to help me as a Advisor,I will be one of those Advisor’s that actually know the technical nature of whats going on,but I can’t sell worth a damn,must work on that.

I agree woth ok4450 completely. I have never even seen an ASE test, let alone a study manual/guide for ASE. I’ve been in the business almost 25 years and worked at dealerships before opening my own shop and have done well for myself. I have never had a customer ask me if I was ASE certified. I could probably walk into a dealership tomorrow and get a job. I’ve been out of the dealership mode for quite a few years now but I remember it used to be that you would have to prove yourself before you could make any kind of money. They might start you out low but if you can show them that you can make them money and do it without a lot of screw ups and rechecks, your paychecks will go up.


Putting the issue of value of having your ASE’s aside,what do you think of the composite vehicle they have assembled to teach driveability and OBD2 diagnostics? I have left out quite a bit of the composites vehicles make-up.

Just yesterday we were commenting on the desire to have a misfire detection feature,and they have included it and I like the way they have designated the vehicle with a no-relearn capability. I believe they have put together a very good representation of the systems a mechanic will find on a car of today.

Driveability is not a area you can just walk in and “wing it”. You may be OK at brakes and some more generic areas but not with driveability. Just like your area,your not going to get out of high school knowing transmission diagnosis and repair,today hitting the books is a PART of competency. What I am presenting is the best “book material” I have come across. Excellent section on analyzing scan tool data and 5 gas anaylzer diagnosis along with 02 sensor wave form analysis and fuel trim analysis.

It has been my experience as a ‘master’ of another sort, that the label ‘certified’ or otherwise documented level of expertise only gets you in the door.

As another responder mentioned, too much emphasis is put on credentials (ala Bernie Madoff et al.) When the true proof lies in performance. I have worked with several well credentialed, highly educated, well recommended individuals who have proven to be somewhat less than adequate in ANY function of the job. I am sure the same applies to the mechanical repair profession. And you would probably agree with this statement.

However, the deeper problem lies with the ASE, AFSME, SNAME and many other alphabet soup lexicon agency’s who become an ‘industry standard’ when this only serves to promote the class society instead of the professionals they start out being created by and for.

My real life experience with ASE technicians is that the walls at Jiffy Lube are plastered with these diplomas. Nope. As Shania says: That don’t impress me much!

It is true that modern professionals need to be as adept at ‘hands on’ as well as being able to teach themselves from a book. But in NO way is any of the book learning ever going to replace aggregate of the hands on ability and experience. I feel these type of agencies are not a true ‘help’ or benefit to the industry or the individual. The individual is the help to these societies. Sort of like putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable, It makes no sense, but some insist on doing the same thing, to no avail.

As far as the ‘car’, of course there are basic simple ideas there to concentrate on, to let a prospective candidate get to the meat and potatoes of the issues. A clear separation of problems and topic areas is nice to look upon to get the ‘feel’ of when starting out. But… when does this happen in real life?

What I am asking and the question keeps getting shifted to the value of ASE’s, is do you think that the “composite car” model that the ASE panel has come up with is a good training tool?

Or cappy are you saying that classroom training has absolutely no value. If info from a book is of no value,well I don’t know where to go with this.

Do you think that just hanging around with the driveability tech is somehow going to teach you driveability? You have to crack the book, learn the system then put you hands on.

This driveability stuff is more brain work than back work. You have to know what the different data fields on your scan tool mean and what direction to take base upon that data.

The day has come with BMW that you are not allowed to do warranty work on cars that you have not recieved certification on, Tech assistance won’t even talk to you on the phone if you don’t have you model familarization. They require a certain number of Master Techs based upon the amount of cars the Dealer sells. This means taking the test.

My opinion would be that it’s overrated.
A story I read in a trade publication some years back stated that techs who attend service schools only retain to any degree at all, about 15% of what they are taught.
For the time and expense I question whether the programs are worth it.

BMW (and they’re not alone) may require this or that but that does not mean that any tech is going to hang around long enough to become a Master Tech. Warranty headaches and pain in the neck dealer policy has a way of making many of them move on either before they attain Master status or not long afterwards.

While not related to the composite car I’ve got a great example of why Master Whatever means little if you would like to hear it and involves a guy I worked with who was an ASE Master Tech and a fully certified Subaru Master Tech to boot.

Actually I disagree with the premise that you state: ‘You have to crack the book, learn the system then put your hands on.’

I feel that is backwards. I have seen too many instances of guys/gals who are savvy with the texts, and just have no innate, practical mechanical knowledge, experience, or even ability. Without the two abilities working together what ASE stands for is useless. I know of no way for someone to go get book certified (first) then be able be sure to be a ‘good’ mechanic. Some think they are qualified just by the diploma. Others think they need no more formal training. Both are wrong. BUT, I have seen too many people who can ‘pass the test’ who have no business being on the other end of the wrench doing the actual job. You can substitute any other profession for the word ‘wrench’ in that previous sentence also.

However, As you stated the ‘composite model’ is a great idea in thought. But the application is lacking. I mentioned earlier that Jiffy lube uses these as wallpaper. You are obviously an experienced mechanic with “probably” more than one year (Ha Ha) experience. You have matriculated ‘up’ the system. How many mechanics have you worked with over the years who bring in that brand new diploma and no matter how long they worked with you they just didn’t “get it”? So what good is the diploma.

You mention BMW. Does BMW recognize an ASE diploma? I doubt it. You must go to a BMW class to be recognized by them. How does that help you at BMW with a ASE certificate?

The Technical Support section does not give any weight to ASE certification. You must have training from their training center to get the kind of certifications needed to work on paticular models (under warranty) and have them provide you with tech support (you can just have the Foreman or someone else ask your question). They said that they felt that their time was being wasted when they were asked for help on a system that the tech had no training on. In reality this policy worked in your favor at times, you were not stuck on a low paying warranty nightmare, you could go on with better customer pay jobs.

Much is being made of that the diploma doesn’t mean competeancy. So much so that one tends to wonder if you believe the diploma is a hinderence. Have you never met someone with the diploma and is also competant?

I understand how you feel about the ASE diploma (no value) so lets just concentrate on the value of the material they are testing on, its all good stuff that every tech should know wether he takes the test or not. If you grasp all that is presented in both the driveability sections (A8 Engine Performance and L1 Advanced Engine performance) you have a very good base to build on.

I would somehow like you to take a look at the material and then evaluate. I describe them as FSM’s with a more system theory nature,less cryptic. You come away understanding more than you would just following the flow chart for a DTC from a FSM.

I’ve known some guys who were both competent and had the diplomas. The only catch is that they’re in the very distinct minority.

Ponder this one. I consider FAA aircraft certification far more rigorous than any automotive testing simply because so much more is riding on the outcome of the repair: crashing instead of pulling over to the curb.

About 25 years ago my (ex) brother in law passed his aircraft mechanics exam that was administered by an FAA licensed examiner.
The problem was that my BIL is an absolute mechanical twit who could not even change his own spark plugs - and didn’t. Guess who serviced his cars? Me.

Now, how did he pass the tests? Simple. The examiner had a vested interest in making sure as many of his students as possible passed the exam so he coddled them through the entire thing.
The first time I took the written exam (different examiner) for aircraft powerplants I flunked; and flunked badly. It wasn’t even close.
After putting in some extra time (required additional hours for a retake) I took the written again about 3 months later, scored high, and passed all sections.

The point here is that my BIL can’t wrench his way out of a wet paper bag after 2 years of study in an FAA approved program, but we’re to believe a comparatively few hours of ASE study and testing will make someone proficient? Not in my opinion.

This composite can be a useful tool to familiarize oneself with the different systems, the input values and the outputs (functions or malfunctions) caused by that said input or set of input(s) in a modern ECU/ECM. Back when I started Hands-on learning the electronic engine management systems where rudimentary at best , Cap and Rotor days, as far as I’m concerned, getting certified opens up opportunities and creates the like, at more shops etc. That said… there is no education like good old fashioned, trial and error. Attempting to rectify an undesirable output from a vehicle with one approach, gathering all available information that these computers on wheels will provide, failing then trouble shooting adjusting approach, changing technique, observing someone more familiar with the problem you’re faced with, eventually you find the fix. That is the process I have always retained the most insight and knowledge from. But that’s just me. I also have a couple Basic A.S.E module certifications. I have no desire or motivation (career wise) , just the simple concept that knowledge is power, I try to learn 1new thing everyday. I am not getting certified, just using the course modules to gain insight as to make is easier to tune my cars better. As well as fix any problems that may arise in the future.

I worked for my previous employer for 3½ years, busted my butt for them, extended myself for them, and got a whopping 50 cents an hour raise after the first year. After that, each year at my performance review, they had endless excuses why they couldn’t give me a raise, but if I started doing X, Y, and Z then they’d up my pay. Well, I started doing those things, but then they just demanded even more–and still no raise.

Finally, in January of 2017, the company decided to raise prices charged to the customer by 12% across the board, citing “inflation” and “economic conditions”. I told my boss that if we were increasing our flate-rate prices by 12%, then shouldn’t the people who are actually doing the work receive a similar percent raise? He laughed at me, and said if you don’t like what I’m paying you, find another job.

So I started taking time off work and applying at other companies, and attending interviews. Well guess what? I got a job at a different company, where I am still at today, and just the mere act of changing jobs brought my pay up by more than $4 an hour–far more than the meager $1 an hour I was asking for. And now, I get a raise automatically each year, together with thanks for doing a great job. No BS and endless excuses.

Oh, and my previous employer has lost major customers because he can’t keep employees for more than a few months, and apparently doesn’t think he should have to offer better pay.

I did the same thing after each broken promise; moved on after lining up another job and giving them 2 seconds notice.
After spending 2.5 years going through every school and passing every test I was given Master Tech status at a Subaru dealer. SOA had a policy of requiring every dealer to have at least one MT. They had promised me 50% commission if I attained that status and per the usual reneged when I hit that goal.

Right after I had a vacation come up. I lined up another job, used my vacation by taking a motorcycle trip to Sturgis SD, returned and started yanking all of my Subaru. ASE certs, etc off the wall. THEN I heard a bunch of “what are we gonna do without a MT” wailing. Don’t care; you lied so bye. Funny part is I went to work for Nissan making 5 dollars per hour less on flat rate and my total pay each month went up by well over 30% with stress there being practically non existent due to the coolest service manager ever. He headed all crap off at the door and never let it reach the mechanics.

I’ll say a few things about the L1 composite vehicle and ASE certifications

I’m currently L1-certified, along with several others. 14 total, I believe, both automotive and heavy truck

And you will not pass L1 if you don’t have a good head on your shoulders and some experience

In my opinion, the L1 is a fair measure of somebody’s diagnostic skills. Somebody who is a poor reader, can’t interpret a wiring diagram, can’t approach things in a systematic manner will bomb at that exam, especially when you consider you only have a short time for each exam. Gone are the days when you literally had all evening to answer the exam(s)

None of my employers ever cared about ASE-credentials. Meaning they didn’t financially reward employees who had them.

The dealer only cared about their own “standards of mediocrity” . . . yes, that WAS intended to be snarky. I’ve seen so many guys who couldn’t diagnose a flat tire, yet they were “master certified” by the manufacturer. I think it was called “standards of excellence” . . . but it was a farce in my opinion.

Things may have changed in the last few years. I haven’t worked at a dealership in over 10 years. And I have no plans of ever going back.

My current employer also doesn’t reward ASE certifications. But it’s because all mechanics get paid the same. Meaning equipment mechanics get paid the same, heavy equipment mechanics get paid a slightly higher amount, and so forth. There are “codes” such as noise, truck, night, odor and other things that you get, depending on what particular shop you work in

I’ve seen very few guys that actually display their ase credentials on their toolboxes. All those magnets go in a desk drawer at home, along with the paper credentials. If anybody wants to see them, I can log onto the ase website and print them out.

Does that include customers who would have been a waste of time for everybody, such as those that were trying to engineer a fraudulent buyback . . . ?!

I agree with you; a good manager knows what customers to send away

Even at my current job . . . which is as a fleet mechanic, some of our vehicle operators only drop off vehicles because they are wasting everybody’s time. They complain about non-existent problems, so that they can tell their boss “My truck’s at the shop, I can’t do my job”

I became ASE certified in the '70’s while working on my PhD in Physics. I had a lot of motorcycle experience and probably stretched the truth a bit about my experience level. I said to myself that I was probably far more experienced at taking tests than any full-time mechanic .
We often see and hear mechanics throwing parts at a car without understanding that they are unrelated to the true symptoms. If a mechanic remembers only 15% of their book-learning, that is 15% to the plus side. Aren’t we all learning a lot right here on this site without ever touching a car?

ASE certification gets you in the door for your first job.

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Yes, the service manager I referred to would just sit there stoically and not say a word. When the customer got through ranting he would say there’s the door. Leave. Now.

One guy had been in multiple times for a brake shudder. Nothing could be found wrong even with dial indicators or test drives. The SM finally said take me for a drive and show me this shuddder.
The guy went right outside of town, ran the car up to 85 MPH, and locked the brakes up. That of course led to wheel hopping.
SM never said a word. Came back to the shop, got out, and told the guy to get the hxxx of the lot and never come back again no matter what was wrong.

I had asked him one time how he remained so cool with this stuff going on. He said when someone started complaining he would just shift his thoughts to being at the lake fishing or taking his wife out to dinner on a Saturday evening. Just zoned out basically.

I’ve related my reasons for dumping all of my certs. The other side of is is ethics and competency. There was a long time local import shop here that is now closed as the owner died. The shop was plastered with ASE signs. The owner and every tech there was completely ASE certed to the hilt.
I cannot even remember the number of people whose cars I fixed that they botched or who refused to leave their car there because it seemed that every engine performance problem was “an 800 dollar fix”; all diagnosed without even raising the hood.

A trashed VW because the timing was too far advanced, a flex plate busted because they made an error seating the converter, an engine swapped out because a valve shim had gotten chucked out of the bucket and a rod bearing got the blame.

Probably my favorite was a guy who owned an old Audi that was very low miles and showroom clean. It ran like garbage and the guy knew nothing about cars. That ASE shop told him it was an “800 dollar fuel injection problem”.
This was an Audi 100 that used a carburetor and the actual problem was that the distributor cam was dry and allowed the contact points to close up…took me 5 minutes to fix and ran like a Rolex.

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