Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2002   by Mike Anthony

Training: Testing For Excellence

ASE fall testing is near, with new opportunities for service writers

The familiar blue shoulder patch defining ASE -certified automotive professionals celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and the Canadian service industry has more options to earn certification.

ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) holds its biennial testing in May and November so act fast because September 27 is the deadline for registering for the November tests.

Still not familiar with ASE? It provides different exams written by separate panels of industry experts to test people’s knowledge in their respective areas: auto/light truck, medium/heavy truck, collision repair and refinishing, engine machining, automobile advanced engine performance, light vehicle compressed natural gas, school bus service and re-certification. There’s also a test series for parts workers at distribution and dealer levels. Under these categories, tests are further organized into subcategories and given an alpha-numeric code like “A4: Auto/Light Truck Suspension and Steering” as an example of the auto/light truck series. Passing these tests earns bright blue crests letting consumers know that you know your stuff.

New for May 2003 is a series for “service consultants,” a.k.a. service advisors or service writers. The tests aren’t yet finalized but should focus on service consulting issues — customer handling and internal relations, product knowledge (vehicle systems, maintenance intervals), warranty claims, service bulletins, vehicle identification, sales and shop operations.

“Once we develop a new series of tests, inevitably, the need for training follows. And I think that’s the real value ASE certification provides — it drives the need for training so that an individual who doesn’t pass the test will go out and get the training he or she needs to pass the next time around,” declares ASE vice-president of communications Tony Molla.

The tests are scored by a third party, American College Testing (ACT). Though it’s unfamiliar in Canada, ACT is an independent testing organization which also administers tests like SATs and LSATs for college students in the States.

“The idea is to have a program with integrity and security so there can’t be any conflict of interest or collusion,” declares Molla.

What does it cost? Payment is made in U.S. funds, and it costs $28 to register (up from $26 last year) for each round of tests regardless of what or how many tests you take. You must re-register every time. Test fees are generally $23 each but cost $45 for the advanced “L” series dealing with complicated diagnostics. The most popular way to register is on-line by visiting After registering choosing which tests to take, you’ll be assigned a spot at a test location on a first-come, first-serve basis, usually in the nearest community college or university. Then you’re certified for five years in the area you’ve been tested. When five years are up, retesting costs are the same as for new candidates but there’s a test fee cap of $58 no matter how many tests you wish to take.

The organization wouldn’t say what the pass/fail cut-off mark is for any given test, just that the overall pass rate hovers around two-thirds, so preparation is a good idea.

Despite 30 being a nice, round number, Molla says ASE’s thirtieth anniversary came and went without much “popping of champagne corks or anything like that.” Rather, ASE hopes to make June 12 an important day in the U.S. — National Automotive Technicians’ Day. It’s now listed in a media almanac, Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2002.

He says that eventually, ASE hopes Technician’s Day becomes a household name and then known world-wide: “The objective this year was to establish it and get it registered in the book but we’d like to grow it into a much larger event.”

Visit ASE’s website for complete registration and testing details or call toll-free at 1-877-ASE-TECH or at 703-669-6600.