Importance of Technician Certification for Working in the Automotive Industry

If you are interested in autos and how they work, and you must be if you are reading this article, you have probably been asked more than once, "Where can I find a good mechanic?"

Whom can a person trust? Who has the proper skills and knowledge? It is very difficult to tell. There has been much talk lately regarding the licensing of automobile repair people, but is that the way things should be? Is that how they will be?

Perhaps licensing will be a fact of life for the technician of the future all across the nation. Canada licenses its motor vehicle mechanics in a program supervised by provincial governments. The state of Michigan has already adopted an automotive technician licensing program. It may be the only solution to a bad situation, or at least the most palatable of alternatives.


There are eight tests for the general automotive technician: engine repair, automatic transmission/transaxle, manual drive train and axles, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical systems, heating and air-conditioning, and engine performance (which was previously called engine tune-up).

In addition, there are eight tests for heavy-duty truck mechanics, and five tests for auto body repairers and painters.

All tests are multiple choice and are problem oriented. For example, a test question might be, "A vehicle with a computer-controlled (feedback) engine has poor gas mileage. Engine tests show a rich mixture. Technician A says that a bad oxygen (02) sensor could be the cause. Technician B says that a bad intake air temperature sensor could be the cause. Who is right?"

A. A only

B. Bonly

C. Both A and B

D. Neither A nor B

For anyone who is very familiar with the particular area being tested, the tests may seem rather easy. Other tests may seem extremely difficult. This sim-ply points out the technician's weakness in one area and confirms expertise in another. The tests can be taken any number of times as long as the applicant pays the test fee. It is a good barometer of how well he or she knows his or her stuff. It is also a great way to force oneself to learn what is needed to pass a particular test.

The duty task lists given here are only in outline form. Some categories are expanded to show more detail. For the full list of requirements, together with sample questions and answers, contact ASE.

Automobile Technician

Engine Repair (Test Al)

A. General engine diagnosis

B. Cylinder head and valve train diagnosis and repair

C. Engine block diagnosis and repair

D. Lubrication and cooling system diagnosis and repair

E. Fuel, electrical, ignition, and exhaust systems inspection and service

Engine Performance (Test A8)

A. General engine diagnosis

B. Ignition system diagnosis and repair

C. Fuel, air induction, and exhaust systems diagnosis and repair

D. Emissions control systems diagnosis and repair

E. Computerized engine controls diagnosis and repair

1. Diagnose the causes of emissions problems resulting from failure of computerized engine controls.

2. Perform analytic/diagnostic procedures on vehicles with on-board diagnostic computer systems; determine needed action.

3. Inspect, test, adjust, and replace sensor, control, and actuator components and circuits of computerized engine control systems.

4. Use and interpret digital multimeter (DMM) readings.

5. Read and interpret technical literature (service publications and information).

6. Test, remove, inspect, clean, service, and repair or replace power distribution circuits and connections.

7. Practice recommended precautions when handling static sensitive devices.

8. Diagnose drivability and emissions problems resulting from failures of inter-dependent systems (security alarms, torque controls, suspension controls, traction controls, torque management, A/C, and similar systems).

F. Engine electrical systems diagnosis and repair.

Medium/Heavy Truck Technician

Diesel Engine (Test T2)

A. General engine diagnosis

B. Cylinder head and valve train diagnosis and repair

C. Engine block diagnosis and repair

D. Lubrication and cooling system diagnosis and repair

E. Air induction and exhaust systems diagnosis and repair

F. Fuel system diagnosis and repair

G. Starting system diagnosis and repair

H. Engine brakes

Collision Repair and Refinishing

Painting and Refinishing (Test B2)

A. Surface preparation

B. Spray gun operation and related, equipment

C. Paint mixing, matching, and applying

D. Solving paint application problems

E. Finish defects, causes, and cures

F. Safety precautions and miscellaneous

Structural Analysis and Damage Repair (Test B4)

A. Frame inspection and repair

B. Unibody inspection, measurement, and repair

C. Stationary glass

D. Metal welding and cutting


The institute strongly believes that certification helps everyone. The technicians gain prestige and recognition, and their value to their employers is definitely increased. The test results let technicians know areas of strength as well as weaknesses, so they can decide where additional training is needed.

Employers benefit because they can market certified technicians to customers. The institute provides signs advertising that an employer hires technicians who are certified by the ASE. The employer also uses this to advantage in media advertising. But the most important benefit is to the consumer, the motoring public. The motorists benefit because they now can look for and choose a mechanic who has proven skills, as opposed to one who just claims to be a mechanic. The motorist can tell at a glance who is a bona fide technician.
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