What does ASE stand for?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Some local automotive repair establishments advertise AAA and ASE affiliation. I am familiar with AAA, but what does ASE stand for? Should these designations influence my choice of where to have my automobiles repaired?

TOM: ASE is the symbol of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Since anyone who feels like it can hang out a shingle and call himself a mechanic, ASE has taken a lead in trying to provide some sort of national certification for the people who work on cars. They do that by offering mechanics voluntary certification tests in eight basic service areas... engines, trans?missions, fuzzy dice installation, just to name a few.

RAY: When you see an ASE sign at a garage, that means that at least one of the mechanics who works there has passed an ASE test in at least one specialty.

TOM: It won't tell you whether the mechanic is careful or honest, but if your repair is within his particular specialty, at least you'll know he's not learning on your car.

RAY: AAA, on the other hand, is the Automobile Association of America. When you see that sign at a garage, it means you can use your Triple A card to get towed back there for free after they screw up the repair.

TOM: Actually, AAA "authorizes" certain repair shops based on their own criteria (and an annual fee paid to AAA). One thing they look for is at least some ASE certification. AAA authorized shops are also required to guarantee their repairs for 90 days or 4,000 miles, and to let AAA arbitrate any dispute between the garage and its customers.

RAY: So that gives you a little bit more to go on, but I'd still go by a repair shop's reputation more than the letters it hangs in front of the washroom.

TOM: Of course, there are some letters you should definitely avoid. Stay away from anyplace where you see "Member AYC." That's the American Yacht Club, and it means the mechanic is making large monthly boat payments...so watch out!

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