Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guy Algar holds 5 ASE Certifications

Most people in shops that work on old cars and trucks are not certified. In fact there are no specific certifications for people working on classic cars, muscle cars, street rods, or antique cars! Guy Algar holds 5 ASE Certifications, which demonstrates that he has a high level of knowledge on how engines and cars work. But what is ASE certification?

Today's ASE certification tests are not specific to old cars and trucks or the technologies commonly used on vehicles back then. ASE certification tests are the Gold Standard for automotive service technicians.  Automotive and Light Truck, is the closest category to the old cars and trucks we're talking about. According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, these tests are designed "to identify and recognize those Automobile and Light Truck (up to 10,000 GVW) Technicians who can demonstrate knowledge of the skills necessary to diagnose, service, and repair cars, SUVs, and light duty trucks".  The ASE tests for Automotive and Light Truck include:
  • A1 – Engine Repair
  • A2 – Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
  • A3 – Manual Drive Train & Axles
  • A4 – Suspension & Steering
  • A5 – Brakes
  • A6 – Electrical/Electronic Systems
  • A7 – Heating & Air Conditioning
  • A8 – Engine Performance
  • A9 – Light Vehicle Diesel Engines
Automobile systems and the technology has changed drastically over the last 40 years. According to the ASE literature, "Questions are written to correspond to the job tasks. The diagnostic and repair scenarios must reflect current technology," and more importantly, "When a question becomes technically outdated, it is removed from the pool of test questions." This is extremely important for a classic car mechanic or technician, because much of the technology which was commonplace in cars and trucks from the 1950's, 60's and 70's for example, has been replaced with newer technology and is not part of the ASE testing.

New technicians graduating from technical institutes are not thoroughly trained in "old" systems such as carburetors, manual brakes, drop front axles etc., and have very little, if any, hands-on experience. Many don't know how the systems worked back then, and would have difficulty diagnosing a non-computerized vehicle. They're trained for new cars equipped with the latest in computerized systems and advanced navigation and gadgetry. In current ASE testing you answer questions about current systems and technologies including power rack and pinion steering, six speed overdrive transmissions, multi-port fuel injected engines (and we're not talking about the constant flow mechanical fuel injectors... the tall ram stacks! More about Hilborn Fuel Injectors in an upcoming article).

To become ASE-certified, you must have proof of at least two years of relevant full-time, hands-on work experience in the motor vehicle service industry AND pass at least one ASE tests in an approved ASE testing center. Master Technician status is achieved after completing all A1-A8 tests, recognizing that many automobile technicians do not ever service diesel vehicles (there are only 10,019 ASE certified in this A9 category). And, you must re-certify every five years. Guy Algar was first certified in 1988.

The tests are difficult, even for experienced mechanics. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 1 out of 3 fail the ASE tests, and many must re-take the test (you must wait until the next test session) multiple times before passing. As of this writing, there are only 266,860 ASE Certified Technicians nationwide, and of these, only 93,341 are Master Automobile Technicians!  No single A1-A8 category contain more than 208,480 Certified Technicians, with the fewest in A3 Manual Drive Train & Axles at 129,223 technicians.  According to figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 there were 723,400 auto techs in the United States. This means that only 25-30% of technicians have any type of ASE certification, and of these, only 8-12% are Master Techs. (These percentages are estimated and given in a range because the total number of auto techs has increased by as much as 20% from figures available from the BLS while the ASE figures are current to 2012.) Many very competent technicians are not ASE certified, although it is still a desirable designation.

There are other automobile industry related certifications. I-CAR is a certification for collision repair. Since he does not perform this type of work, it is not a certification that Guy Algar would ever get. Nor would he for auto body repairs, paint shop, machine shop, etc., as Motorheads Performance and Guy Algar does not perform this type of work. 

Guy Algar has been Shop Manager for over 8 years, and has been working on classic cars and trucks, race cars, muscle cars, street rods and antiques for over 37 years! He received his first ASE certification in 1988, and has performed work within the automotive industry, including specialized installations for LoJack. Guy's career training was in Mechanical Engineering, a field he worked in for over 25 years before founding Motorheads Performance in 2004. As a mechanical design engineer, Guy has had specialized training within that field as well. If you have questions about his credentials or experience, please ask!