ASE what?

January 9th, 2017



“ASE Certified? What is that supposed to mean?” The thought I often imagine a customer must be thinking when they see the big blue thing on the sign in front of a shop, or better yet when a tech (mechanic) tells them that he IS one. I can recall when I was a young and cocky tech, I would always let a customer know that I am an “ASE MASTER certified tech with L1 Advanced drivability!”

These days, I don’t really mention it at all. I must admit, I originally only got it because Ford made a deal with the ASE that to become a Ford Senior Master Tech we would have to be an ASE master also, and I wanted to be a Senior Master!

Maybe a  little insight on what ASE stands for Automotive Service Excellence.  Basically, It is an organization created in 1972 in response to consumers needing to distinguish between incompetent and competent automotive technicians. Sounds like a good deal to me!

My major problem with that is, can a multiple choice test really do that? I have strong doubts, and that doubt has festered for fifteen years. I know a few great techs that do not have ASE. I also have known a great tech that didn’t take multiple choice tests well. In fact, when I was teaching HS auto, I saw that problem quite often, good mechanical mind, but lacked test taking skills. Does it really meet their goal?

See, after almost twenty years of holding a certified ASE tech credential, I am considering letting it expire. By that, I mean not recertifying. We techs have to pay to take a test every few years to prove to the world that we are competent technicians? I have my doubts if it really works or worse: matters?   Is it worth the time and money to go testing for two evenings in Salina?  Most customers go to a place because of location, or free coffee and wifi? Right? Or maybe it is that great marketing scheme. You know the ones that the business majors dream up to haul in the customers. At least that is what the “gurus” tell us.


You see my logic? In twenty plus years, I  have never had a person ask to see it before I worked on their car. So who cares, if I don’t spend the time and money? I guess having the L1 certification is a bragging feature. Fewer than 45,000 techs in North America have it, and last I knew I was the only independent shop tech in McPherson with it.

I know I am being a little facetious. I realize I do have customers that know what it is , and it does prove you know some technical things about cars. The one redeeming thing to me is it is a way to take pride in my craft. It is a way for us techs to show pride. And we can be a prideful bunch. Example: Why else would three techs spend 4-5 hours to mount a set of specialty tires (that no shop in town could do)? We all three knew we were not going to be billing the customer for three techs at $84 per hour. We did it for pride! We did it to prove it could be done and the other shops were wrong.  Because I know at the end of the day when the marketing schemes and free WIFI are long forgotten, the thing that brings people back is the fact that the car was fixed correctly.

The funny thing is I will go in the spring pay a $150 and take a tedious test for myself…for pride in my trade.