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Andre R

Shop/Technician licensing

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I just finished reading the post from Gonzo about diagnostics and I was about to respond and then chose to go this route. Let me give you a little background on me ; 57 years old, repairing cars for 42 of them, ase master certified with L1. I've repaired cars in Alaska, Massachusetts , Connecticut, Rhode Island and now in Arizona. I've been self employed for 29 years.

 

The problem of no techs and more importantly unqualified techs were present in the 70s when I started. ASE came along and they were going to fix the problem. All techs were going to have to get certified to be able to work in the automotive field, i'm still waiting for that to happen. Then ASE said that if we certified on our own that we would be more attractive to prospective employers and could command higher wages, still waiting for that to happen.

 

A couple of months ago Mitch Schnieder wrote an article about the tech shortage and that something needs to be done. Donny Sieffert from ASA has been writing articles about the connected car and all the complexities and how we are going to need very talented diagnosticians to figure them out and repair them. These same articles were written in the 80s about the new computer controlled cars and the 90s about the new fuel injected cars and the, well you get the idea.

 

We as an industry need to come together and fix this problem. Instead we complain to each other about how hard it is to find qualified techs while we hire unqualified /barely qualified techs to work in our bays.I include myself in this ,I'm just as guilty.

 

The reason we do this is we have no way of knowing if that person applying for the tech position has any schooling or even knows what he says he knows.

 

I feel shop and tech licensing fixes a lot of these problems. I'm sure there will be a bunch of you that will disagree with me and thats fine. I know you only hire certified people and run the best shops except the three shops down the road or around the corner don't and it says auto repair on the front of their buildings too.

 

If you knew that the person coming through your door had to pass a rigorous licensing requirement and that every shop had to have the same basic equipment and could only hire these licensed techs it levels the playing field for all of us.

 

Think it can't be done? Look at the Right To Repair laws and agreements that have been forged and passed in different states. It can be done but only if we start the discussion on a national level.

 

Using an organization like ASA and bringing together some of the leaders in our industry to work on this with our input I feel would be a start in the right direction.

 

I know it won't be a cure all but it would be a start. We need to start some where .

 

Thoughts, insights??

 

 

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I have been writing letters to many people trying to get things changed.. I am too a ASE master tech with my L1, master emission repair license and my state inspection license.. 26 + years of experience . I work with two guys who are not certified or even know anything about diagnostics or fixing to days cars , although they are paid the same as me and one guy is only 22 and has no schooling or training and knows absolutely nothing about cars.. I agree with you full heatedly but I seems to be an dead end . I never receive any responses from any letters I write including ones to ASA! I have ranted on this site too, about the need of certifications and laws to protect the consumers as well as getting the public to know what it really involved in auto repair these days.. the problem is all the hacks that under charge and steal from these customers.. I am sorry to say that I don't think there will be any changes during your or my career .. Any way my hat is off to you !! I will continue the fight but I get tired of beating my head against a wall.

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I'm not certified, and doubt I'll ever pursue becoming certified. I've got cars lined up out the parking lot, and work scheduled weeks out and very few comebacks. The problem is, we've hired some ASE techs that couldn't find the door handle. We've had good ones too, my point however is the certifications hold very little weight. We looked at L1 tech recently that had personal issues, he would've been as bad as a newbie fresh out of school.

 

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I hear this same argument a lot from mechanics, and not at all saying that it is your case because clearly it is not , but MOST that state what you just did are the ones that can't pass the tests.. I am sure you are an exception to the rule and you could, i'm sure pass these tests if need be.. Just like anything there will always be to sides to the fence.

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I hear this same argument a lot from mechanics, and not at all saying that it is your case because clearly it is not , but MOST that state what you just did are the ones that can't pass the tests.. I am sure you are an exception to the rule and you could, i'm sure pass these tests if need be.. Just like anything there will always be to sides to the fence.

I agree completely. As mentioned above, we see a lot of techs that couldn't pass them if they tried! I've taken and passed the practice test for the areas we specialize in - the real reason I've never pursued them further is there's only 3 of us. Things get hard without 1 - and up until last year the nearest testing facility was 2.5 hours away. Maybe one day considering there's a facility at the local college now.

I wish they would create a licensing board here, we're surrounded by hacks. I can easily name 5 big shops that never exceed parts changing, rarely even attempt to diagnose and operate on unsafe equipment. As a matter of fact, we've got a 6.0l in the shop now that the previous shop charged $1800.00 to "try some things" and never got it running. Last night I drained at least 1qt of starting fluid from the oil pan. I won't disagree a licensing requirement would help us all - and I suppose ASE certs would help achieve that.

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Edited by ncautoshop
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Requireing licensing will only add another fee that we have to pay. I have some of my ASE's so I am not against them and have no problem taking the tests.

 

When I was first starting out we had a guy start at the shop I was working at. He was clean and well spoken. He had a huge snap on box loaded with all the snap on tools all shiney new. He had a diploma from an automotive tech school. He had several ASE's at the time. He could not fix a damn thing. Anyone can study and pass a test.. ANYONE. If you think mandatory licensing is going to eliminate shitty techs you are wrong. It would make the good ones who do not like testing pick a different career field.

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I believe part of the problem we face as techs is NO RESPECT. Forever anyone could be a mechanic. With the technology what it is today that is fading. The problem is our skills are diminished by the autozones..Googles..you tube mechanics. I could never understand why one would need a liscenes to style hair but nothing to repair cars. I was ASE master at one time. I gave up due to the lack of understanding with the customers and the failure to promote from ASE itself. Personally I believe untill there is a distinction for PROFESSIONAL techs we as an industry will continue to struggle with the image of "grease monkeys" and shade tree mechanics. I had a discussion with a long time customer just yesterday about the cost of doing business. He himself is a retired business man and he had no idea of the expense of equipment and training required to stay current. His take was I am way to cheap for the work I do. Yet how do we charge correctly when the dude down the street will work for a 12 pack and "white" box parts at cost. As long as the Autozones of this industry continue to diminish our value by loaning tools, providing info, and the such it will be an uphill battle. A way to designate ourselves as professionals that is PUBLICLY RECOGNIZED would go a long way in setting us apart.

In addition until the states do their job in policeing the "shed" shops this will go nowhere. In the 2 years I have been in this location I have seen several off these shops come and go within 3 blocks. The local and state inspectors claim to be overworked and under staffed and that these issues are small in comparison to the "real" problems they address daily. I had one ask me if I was prejiduced or just didnt want the competition (the shop I reported was being operated by an ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT).

Edited by Jeff
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You're right Jeff. There is not a day that goes by that somebody will call me about something they've watched on You Tube. Some are good info, while others are very questionable. The last one was a guy who wanted me to change out his TIPM because his truck would cut out every couple of miles. I said no to that and I would only change it after I've tested it. He wasn't going for that. His opinion was it should only take a few minutes to get it done and testing was a useless waste of his money.

 

To me, that shows a lack of respect for the profession that I've spent my lifetime at. You show me and my trade respect and I'll show you the same. If not, learn to hitchhike....

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Agree Gonzo. There are 2 things that will get you thrown outta my shop..tell me you had it scanned at AZ and you know how to fix it because you seen it on You Tube..you better hit the door before I can get around the desk!! :angry::wacko::ph34r:

had a young couple come in because they had found me on google. Already knew what was wrong but NONE OF THE OTHER SHOPS BELIEVED THEM! :rolleyes: Had parts in hand. I asked how they knew what was wrong..they had it "scanned" at AZ and their buddy with a computer confirmed it. I asked them why the "buddy: didnt fix it..he only works on boats!! HIT THE DOOR!! B)

Edited by Jeff
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Guy called me yesterday wanting the price of a fuel pump. Had just replace MAP sensor (his buddy said that was what code was) and now it wouldn't start. Guess what broken ground wire to ECM was no start cause and all the codes in the computer and running issue. All he had done or thought about doing was worseless.

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I had one call me awhile back asking for a price to do a fuel pump on a Dodge stratus. The explained that another shop had already diagnosed it. I gave them a quote based on book time and my normal parts margins. I also quoted an hour for diagnostics and explained that I don't rely on other people's diagnostics. Apparently I was. Lower than the other guy cause a couple days later, the car showed up on a hook. The corrosion on the battery terminals was about 4 inches thick. Cleaned terminals and battery prior to testing, and car started right up. No fuel pump needed. Charged an hour and customer was thrilled. Add another loyal customer to the books. Now, I don't have any certs, and neither does my other tech. We push out quality work and I'm sure both of us could pass all the ase tests, but what's the benefit to me besides a patch? Will it make my customers car run better? I've had one ase certified tech work for me since I bought this business, and had to let him go in less than a month. Zero diagnostics ability. To smart to learn because he already had a piece of paper to prove he knew everything. I believe requiring certification or licensing will greatly limit who we have to hire from. On the other hand, requiring a shop to be licensed and subject to inspection would possibly reduce some of the scab shops, while leaving it the owners responsibility to hire qualified techs, certified or not.

 

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I've always liked the idea of certifications, but I agree that they are not necessary when it comes to doing quality work AND that some guys are basically paper pushing - test taking geniuses that don't have a clue what to do when it comes to diagnostics or having a wrench in their hands.

 

My general thought on this has always been to rate the repair shop as well as the tech. Say an A-B-C-D rating system. Right smack on the front door would be a white sign with a black letter showing the graded/evaluation of that particular repair shop. Each shop can raise or lower their rating based on the quality of work and equipment as well as their technicians skill levels. The rating system could also dictate the highest labor per hour each rating could charge.

 

It's not a perfect idea but, this would allow the consumer to decide where they want to go instead of the usual, "I went here, then here, and then over there and nobody knows how to fix my car." If they went to a D shop that has nothing more than a code reader and OUIJA board to diagnose cars they can't blame anybody but themselves for only getting what they paid for.

 

How do you rate a shop? Simple, we do it. We as in the shop owners and technicians. Or, some sort of secret shopper deal. Take an older tech and give them the task of checking out shops. I personally like the idea of us governing us.

 

thoughts???

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Ok , I guess I need to clarify myself. I am not advocating for ASE certifications. On the contrary, I think they are a large part of the problem, as is AAI, UTI, MMI, WIO-TECH, ITT TECH and a host of other so called schools that take peoples money and don't provide what was paid for. Thats a whole other tirade for a different post.

 

What I had in mind was a system that Rhode Island uses to license electricians. It is an associates degree earned through a local accredited school. The person usually goes to night school and has to complete 2000 hours of apprentorship under a licensed electrician. After successfully completing the schooling and the 2000 hours they are awarded a journeyman license. That person has to complete yearly continuing education requirements or lose his license.

 

If we were to use a system like this , as an employer you would know that the person applying for a job had at least some basic knowledge and experience.

 

As for shop licensing how about minimum requirements for insurance, required equipment for doing certain repairs and minimum schooling for the techs that work there.

 

These are some of the basic ideas that I feel are needed in our field.

 

Ncautoshop, the problem wasn't that you hired an ASE tech that "couldn't find the door handle", its that ASE didn't do their job to verify that he/she had the experience for that certification.

 

If we as an industry don't start policing ourselves then we are no better than those hack shops you all complain about because we are allowing them to rip people off and repair vehicles incorrectly or incompletely.

 

This is just my opinion. One born of being in an industry for over 40 years and watching as the vehicles get smarter and more complex and the people that are responsible for maintaining and repairing them are falling further and further behind.

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Ok , I guess I need to clarify myself. I am not advocating for ASE certifications. On the contrary, I think they are a large part of the problem, as is AAI, UTI, MMI, WIO-TECH, ITT TECH and a host of other so called schools that take peoples money and don't provide what was paid for. Thats a whole other tirade for a different post.

 

What I had in mind was a system that Rhode Island uses to license electricians. It is an associates degree earned through a local accredited school. The person usually goes to night school and has to complete 2000 hours of apprentorship under a licensed electrician. After successfully completing the schooling and the 2000 hours they are awarded a journeyman license. That person has to complete yearly continuing education requirements or lose his license.

 

If we were to use a system like this , as an employer you would know that the person applying for a job had at least some basic knowledge and experience.

 

As for shop licensing how about minimum requirements for insurance, required equipment for doing certain repairs and minimum schooling for the techs that work there.

 

These are some of the basic ideas that I feel are needed in our field.

 

Ncautoshop, the problem wasn't that you hired an ASE tech that "couldn't find the door handle", its that ASE didn't do their job to verify that he/she had the experience for that certification.

 

If we as an industry don't start policing ourselves then we are no better than those hack shops you all complain about because we are allowing them to rip people off and repair vehicles incorrectly or incompletely.

 

This is just my opinion. One born of being in an industry for over 40 years and watching as the vehicles get smarter and more complex and the people that are responsible for maintaining and repairing them are falling further and further behind.

I agree!

But in my case the tech was seasoned and well experienced - he had personal issues and fell off the wagon.

 

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Trust me, the customers learn pretty quick who's who. Everyone's an "expert" when they are selling themselves. I used to stress about the incompetent wood butchers opening up all around bragging of $25/hr ads but paying customers learn fast that they didn't save anything by having uninsured dirt bag low bidder hacks replace unneeded parts. Stupid equals expensive. State licensing doesn't solve anything they just take your money.

 

I must disagree that ASE Techs can be ignorant about cars. There's no way to cheat and the tests are pretty hard for a hack to pass. There are techs that claim to be certified but are just liars. You can check on the ASE site. I also know many excellent techs that aren't certified in anything. I haven't found a master tech yet that didn't know how to properly fix a car. Slow, lazy, and/or sloppy maybe but they all knew the right way to do things.

Edited by alfredauto

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...........I haven't found a master tech yet that didn't know how to properly fix a car. Slow, lazy, and/or sloppy maybe but they all knew the right way to do things.[/quote.]

 

You nailed it here although I would add I have had a couple of Master Techs that the problem was substance abuse.

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...........I haven't found a master tech yet that didn't know how to properly fix a car. Slow, lazy, and/or sloppy maybe but they all knew the right way to do things.[/quote.]

 

You nailed it here although I would add I have had a couple of Master Techs that the problem was substance abuse.

That's where I was going with my comments. They were once upon a time great techs, but life had taken its toll on them.

 

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I feel I'm outside the box on this one. My shop is more custom that does general repair. I was an industrial electrician for 22 years. The last 14 in supervision. I went from apprentice to General Foreman before stepping down so I can relate to the electrician references from earlier. Now in 22 years I never licensed. Why, Well most of the time I was traveling the country doing construction or shut downs. Refineries, gold mines, Paper mills, etc... License in Florida then head to Texas No point.

 

What I am getting at is, I have worked a lot of people all over the country. Some licensed and some not. There is no one size fits all license to guarantee a techs abilities on the job, electrical or automotive. One thing electrical has over ASE is a hands on portion of the test. Now the guy that aces the code book portion and barely squeaks by the practical and hands on, has the same license as the guy that did well in 1 of the other 2 areas. Do we agree so far?

 

Which one is the better employee? Same State license but different strong points. How do we rate these guys?

 

Now will an ASE test produce better techs? I doubt it. Everyone has there strong and weak points. Some very smart people just do not test well. Einstein had trouble finding his way home. I used to work a guy we called "1 off" Good at diag but every time he grabbed a wrench......... He was 1 size off from the right wrench. What about the guy that just kills it with tools but lacks the diag skills?

 

So should we hold everyone to the same standards? If so then ASE should have more than just a written test.

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ASE is total bullshit. You give me a couple of days working for me and I will tell if you are good enough or should be delivering pizza.

I too was ASE master tech, but I was also young and stupid.

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I've always liked the idea of certifications, but I agree that they are not necessary when it comes to doing quality work AND that some guys are basically paper pushing - test taking geniuses that don't have a clue what to do when it comes to diagnostics or having a wrench in their hands.

 

My general thought on this has always been to rate the repair shop as well as the tech. Say an A-B-C-D rating system. Right smack on the front door would be a white sign with a black letter showing the graded/evaluation of that particular repair shop. Each shop can raise or lower their rating based on the quality of work and equipment as well as their technicians skill levels. The rating system could also dictate the highest labor per hour each rating could charge.

 

It's not a perfect idea but, this would allow the consumer to decide where they want to go instead of the usual, "I went here, then here, and then over there and nobody knows how to fix my car." If they went to a D shop that has nothing more than a code reader and OUIJA board to diagnose cars they can't blame anybody but themselves for only getting what they paid for.

 

How do you rate a shop? Simple, we do it. We as in the shop owners and technicians. Or, some sort of secret shopper deal. Take an older tech and give them the task of checking out shops. I personally like the idea of us governing us.

 

thoughts???

 

 

These ideas always sound great in theory. But do you really want some college grad, that couldn't make it in the real world so he went to work for the state, passing judgement on your shop? All this would do is raise the cost of doing business. Lets be real, the people who go to the shade tree guys aren't the customers you want. Let them go and don't lose sleep on them. Focus on the customers who see the value in what you do for a living. There's plenty of cars for everybody.

 

You want better techs, train them to be better techs. Our newest tech I hired with zero mechanical experience and we trained him with my A tech for 6 months. He's a solid B tech and I have no doubt he'll be a great A tech. 100% in house trained. We've hired UTI and Wyotech grads and they never last. They come out of school with a lot of debt and are qualified to change oil. But they expect big bucks. I have a UTI grad now and I believe the only reason he thrived is the fact he apprenticed with us while he was still in High School. You have to have some form of in house training.

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OMG, we need to improve the species. Training & certification is the only way. I have been an ASE master since the beginning & I am proud of that.

I am disappointed when so many perspective techs apply & admit they have NO training or certification. I can not hire them & wait to see if they know the basics,

that's crazy to wait to see if they screw up repairs then fix them yourself. It is up to us to improve techs & turn a profit while doing it.

 

We as shop owners should be encouraging certification & training, even online FREE training that there are tons. Check out iATN you could read for days with professional training.

I am NAPA Autocare, Bosch Car Service & AAA approved & they ALL REQUIRE ASE certification. I believe it helps get customers.

Dave

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OMG, we need to improve the species. Training & certification is the only way. I have been an ASE master since the beginning & I am proud of that.

I am disappointed when so many perspective techs apply & admit they have NO training or certification. I can not hire them & wait to see if they know the basics,

that's crazy to wait to see if they screw up repairs then fix them yourself. It is up to us to improve techs & turn a profit while doing it.

 

We as shop owners should be encouraging certification & training, even online FREE training that there are tons. Check out iATN you could read for days with professional training.

I am NAPA Autocare, Bosch Car Service & AAA approved & they ALL REQUIRE ASE certification. I believe it helps get customers.

Dave

We're also a Napa Autocare - long story short we had a warranty job go to another autocare shop and the technician guessed his whole way through the job, tossed parts and refused assistance when offered. Point is associations and certifications only go so far. Training, we require it for our employees but if their not willing to learn it doesn't so any good!

 

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The not willing to learn is a challenge.

I leave the trade magazines in the shop & I find very seldom do they get looked at so I make copies of the articles I think they need to read & hand them out.

Dave

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