In a recent study of several hundred people, the question was asked, “Does the auto shop you use have certified technicians?” The vast majority said they assumed that they were.
The shop you use may have certified people, but the reality is there is no mandatory certification required to own or operate an auto repair shop in California. To be an auto shop owner, you must have a state license issued by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), which any person can apply for and receive with no automotive experience at all.
To apply and receive an automotive repair dealer’s license (ARD), just show up to the Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR) with $200.00, a name for the company and a tax ID. Wala! You’re in the automotive repair business, no proof of insurance, no tools and no experience necessary.
This is one part of our industry that I would like to see reviewed. A professional that cuts hair or fingernails is required to be state certified, but a mechanic who works on tires, engines or brakes doesn’t need a single day of training or any tools to do so.
The only certification system we have is voluntary, with the exception of being a smog station. Smog technicians are licensed by the state and require continuing education.
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers a series of tests that a technician can take to be certified in many different areas of the car. All tests are voluntary, not required. At my shop, I require all staff to be ASE certified and I know many other shops do as well. ASE tests are all written tests and it does not necessarily mean a person is competent to work on a car.
AAA Approved auto shops must have ASE certified technicians employed as well as have a minimum set of tools for the cars they work on. I recommend using an AAA approved shop due to their tough standards, and you have a voice through the arbitration system, should you have a concern with the service or repair.
In these uncertain times, saving a few dollars is always something to consider. But don’t get caught up with a low price that will cost you more later. Have a knowledgeable certified technician perform the service or repairs on your car; it will save you time and money in the long run. Before you agree to have any work performed, ask if the technician working on your car is certified. If you wonder sometimes why someone is lower in price than everyone else, there’s usually a reason.
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