For consumers-Your preferred technician

Do you perfer a ASE certified and one which has a degree or are you satisfied with a tech that has “been doing this for 30 years”? Do you look for ASE plaqueard at your mechanics shop?

I want both, and they’re not hard to find.

I have a brakes guy, who does brakes only, and was highly rated by friends and has done excellent work over the years. I ask his recommendation. One example was for an alignment, he recommended guy x, where he took his car. The guy not only aligns within specs but to the center of ranges allowed. I don’t look for placards but recommendations.

Good point. “Word of mouth” or a high recommendation is very important. I think of ASE and a degree as a investment that tech made into his field. To put forth the money and time and not get paid for it so that you can accel in the future is a big deal. I think that 1/2 of the techs that take the ASE exams do not pass. I want my doctor, dentist, general contractor, accountant, pharmacist etc. to have a degree why not a tech working on my $30k car. Just a thought. Thanks

I ask neighbors and friends. ASE is an added extra. Frankly I seldom need someone. Maybe every couple of years or so.

Certifications are one measure the consumer can use to learn about the mechanic they use for repairs. But it is not a substitute for direct discussions about car problems. If a mechanic can provide a reasonable answer as to why a problem exists and how he arrived at that conclusion, then it doesn’t matter if he has a certification.

I don’t look for the ASE sign on the wall. I look for good service and good work.

As someone who works in higher education, I can tell you degrees and certifications mean little to me. Someone can graduate with honors with a Ph.D. from the best school on the planet, but if that professor or administrator doesn’t know how to work well with others, or treats students like crap, the degree means nothing, at least in terms of my respect.

To expand on that I am a napa customer for parts. We were out of state and an assumed wheel bearing failed. I was not sure exactly what the problem was. I called the closest Napa and asked for a repair recommendation, and he pointed me to the shop I used with no regrets.


An ASE only means that whoever took the test got 70% of the multiple choice questions right, whether by knowledge or luck of the draw.

Many years ago I passed one of my ASE tests and knew diddly squat about what was asked. My boss told me the test was geared toward the vehicles I was familiar with. When I showed up for the test and gave it a quick scan I found that almost all of it was Greek to me.

Now ticked off and assuming the worst, I was notified a month later that I had passed with about a 90 percentile score on all sections. What does that tell you; ability to sort through the 4 technical answers and pick the right one or was it lucky guessing? I’m inclined to think the latter played a bigger part in my passing the test.

Several of my co-workers who are really what one would consider top-notch professionals all took ASE tests related to their area of specialty and every one of them flunked; and flunked badly. These guys could be trusted with your life but just could not pass the tests for whatever reason.

The tests do progress with technology. That’s why recert tests are a must. I agree that alot of people can be the best at what they do. I think the tests are to assure that you are a well-rounded tech. If they were soo easy more people would have and MAINTAIN them. I’m not knockin the guy that doesn’t to each his own. You can never have enough experience.

The problem with this test (and most other tests), is that you can do well by having good test taking skills or by knowing the material, but neither is an indication one is a good mechanic. It’s like the SAT and IQ tests. They might be a good indicator of who will achieve academically, but they aren’t an indicator of who will be successful in life.

For my group of ASE’s (I don’t have all just AC,Electrical,and Service advisor Ha Ha) They help my confidence when I presented myself to the customer. We have been through this before and I do agree they are no indication of how a man will perforem on the job. The training through the Dealer was always of the most benifit. I took one “block” of courses called "SET’in the mid-90’s (specialized electrical training) and they actually put you up at a hotel for 2 weeks. The days of putting up people in a hotel for 2 weeks are long gone. GM has really reduced the “come to a campus” (in this case it was Glendale Community College near Phoenix) type of training. Not with BMW though , you go for training with BMW and they treat you like a King.

One group of tests that are absolutely essential to do well on and indicate quite a bit about the test taker is CISCO’s CCNA (and further) testing. You simply either know the material on the test or you don’t ,no middle ground. My school just today decided to offer the CCNA prep classes in two different formats, you can either take them in 8 week 5 credit hour blocks (there are 4) or 16 week 3 credit hour blocks, I am the 16 week type but I only have one or the groups left anyway.

It still boils down to the fact that an ASE certification does not guarantee competency in whatever area that ASE is in.

While not ASE related but far more difficult, a few decades back an ex-brother in law of mine spent 2 years in an aircraft airframe class and passed the test at the end. Two weeks later he was employed by General Dynamics assembling F-16s.
The problem? This guy was an absolute doofus and I’m dead serious in stating that he flat did not have the ability to do even basic maintenance chores on his own car, no matter how simple that job was.
How did he pass the test? I have no idea and never will. The only theory I have is that he paid the examiner off.

How many jets went down because of him is info I’m not privy to. :slight_smile:

It still boils down to the fact that an ASE certification does not guarantee competency in whatever area that ASE is in.

Nor does a college degree mean that the person you’re hiring will be any better then the high school graduate. It really doesn’t mean anything to the consumer…but it can mean something to the hiring manager. If I’m hiring an entry level position…do I hire the person who has a certain certification in that field…or do I blindly hire someone off the street HOPING they’ll be able to do the work.

Both are preferable. For major work I have a guy who generally works almost exclusively on cars with lots of aftermarket work done to them, basically he runs a speed shop, but doesn’t advertise it or anything. He’s one of the few mechanics that has no issue with you bringing in your own parts. Mostly he deals in high performance engine rebuilds. He doesn’t work cheap, but he’s never let me down, I’ve never had to bring a car back to him to have something fixed a 2nd time.

For more mundane stuff like inspections, and minor repairs, I have two independent shops that I use. They both are pretty good and have reasonable rates.

Can we ask this another way? How would you like your current mechanic to stay competent in changes in the different systems on cars through the years, or is it "If you know what made a 70’s era Chevy motor on down the road, you are good until you retire at 65? would you like to be able to see any proof that he is at least aware of changes in automotive technology? Is his word that he knows current systems good enough for you?

I have worked with what I consider men with minds capable of making sound conclusions about why a car won’t start, but they had no idea on how to interpet most of the data displayed on a scan tool, don’t try and beat them slapping a set of rear shoes on though.

ASE does not provide knowledge though; it only provides a piece of paper that may or may not mean the person is competent. A test does not always correlate to competency under the hood.

Consider this. A shop has the ASE sign out front and John Doe needs his A/C fixed. He selects this shop based on that sign out front and said shop has 5 mechanics at work.
Whose to say that any of those techs hold an ASE in A/C work? Is this shop going to tell Mr. Doe this? Not in a nano-second.

The same could carry over into a vast number of situations. In my opinion, an employer should know if his employee is competent enough to carry on without an ASE badge. Since it’s not humanly possible for even the finest tech to know or remember everything they should not only be willing to crack the books regularly but should also be able to sort out the info they’re given.

Back when I took my aircraft mechanic’s test it consisted of 40 or so pages of written questions, a 2 hour oral exam, and a practical test where one actually performed various tasks on aircraft engines. The instructor warned us during the practical that if anyone even did something so simple as to remove a spark plug from an engine without going to the bookshelves and checking the ADs (airworthiness directives) they would be flunked on the spot.

If a licensed aircraft mechanic is required to hit the books in spite of holding that piece of paper then why shouldn’t the auto mechanic?

ASE certification does demonstrate that an individual has, in a testing environment, shown that he/she has the knowledge to do diagnosis and repair in the area for which he/she is certified. That’s a good thing, but it does not guarantee that the individual is good, and more than having passed the board exams proves that a medical doctor is any good. The medical field requires long internships wherein newly-dgreed doctors are overseen by experienced doctors, but the automotive field has no such internships. But even with all the medical field requires, there are still plenty of bad doctors out there.

Honestly, I ignore certs and go by word-of-mouth. Reputation matters.

That is not how it works. You must pass all 8 tests and have two years experience to hold your Master Certifications. You don’t get master certification for them individually. To have the plaque a precentage of the techs must be / have certification.