How do you know you can trust an auto body shop with your car? Word of mouth is king seeing as that is what we count on, referrals. ASE and I-CAR both oversee the repair industry, but they do so in different ways. Here’s what their certifications mean, and how they can help you pick a body shop.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence was formed in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive work across the industry. Over the years, they’ve formulated standardized tests that show technicians have in-depth knowledge of their repair specialties. Today, over 300,000 technicians in the U.S. are ASE certified.
After two years of work experience or two years of education and one year of work experience, technicians can take standardized tests to be certified in their field. Only two out of three technicians pass their first exam on their first attempt. ASE testing covers over 50 subcategories spanning the entire industry from cars to heavy-duty trucks. Four of these tests cover auto body repair:
– Painting & Refinishing
– Non-Structural Analysis & Damage Repair
– Structural Analysis & Damage Repair
– Mechanical & Electrical Components
ASE also has a certification for damage analysis & estimating. This tests the technician’s ability to assess damage and create an accurate estimate.
Car technology changes rapidly, so technicians must retake updated tests every 5 years to stay certified. These tests are written and updated by groups comprised of experienced technicians, parts manufacturers, and educators.
I-CAR Platinum and Gold Class
The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair was founded in 1979 to improve the quality of work coming out of auto body shops. It’s formed from an alliance of shops, insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers, equipment suppliers and educational services that work together to find new ways to improve repair methods.
I-CAR has four core roles that need to be covered by technicians in a working body shop:
– Non-structural technician
– Structural technician
– Refinish technician
In addition, they offer training in these three areas to improve overall shop performance:
– Production management
– Aluminum structural technician
– Electrical/mechanical technician
Unlike ASE, I-CAR is a continuing education program. When a technician enters the I-CAR program, they work through training in yearly stages. In the first year, the technician undergoes training for ProLevel 1. Once they complete this training, they are Platinum certified. To keep that certification, the technician must move through ProLevel 2 and ProLevel 3 in the next two years. Once they’ve reached ProLevel 3, they’ll continue to take classes that cover updated repair processes. If there’s any lapse in training, the technician loses their Platinum certification.
A car will be worked on by several people during the repair process, so I-CAR encourages shops to have all their staff trained. Shops with technicians who meet the goals of the training program each year are Gold Class certified.
I-CAR Welding Training & Certification
Good welds are critical to restoring the structural integrity of a crashed vehicle and ensuring body panels and metal components work and look as intended by the manufacturer. I-CAR offers welding certification, but it works a little differently than their Platinum and Gold Class certifications.
The courses are conducted at the shop, so the available equipment must be able to perform the test welds. The instructor checks over the equipment and works with the shop to fix any deficiencies. That means a shop that has welding certification has technicians who can weld, and those technicians have the right equipment to make quality repairs.
Aluminum and steel are used differently in vehicles and require separate techniques and equipment for repair, so I-CAR offers certification for both metals. Here are just a few of the differences:
- Riveting is included in aluminum training as it’s commonly used to attach body panels. Likewise, clamp welding is included in steel training.
- Steel is used for frames and major structural components in most vehicles, so steel training includes cutting out sections and welding in new parts to restore structural integrity.
- Aluminum doesn’t change color as it heats up, so technicians must learn how to monitor temperature to get the metal just hot enough to reshape.
- Aluminum can be reworked at lower temperatures than steel. That means less paint will be destroyed in the process, making a big difference in refinishing.
Quality Collision Repair is Closer Than You Think
If you’re looking for auto body repair in the Lake Country, go to Merton Auto Body. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, and our technicians are ASE-certified, so they have the latest training in auto body repair. We’re just south of Silver Spring Drive in Sussex, between Lisbon and North Lake.