In the United States, the answer to the question of what is needed to become an auto mechanic specialist may vary from state to state. Some states such as Texas, New Jersey and Florida do not have any specific requirements for certifications, if someone wants to become a general auto mechanic. However, most states require candidates to hold one or more certifications or licenses before they could start working in that profession.
Michigan is one of those states that has the most comprehensive licensing systems for auto mechanics, which requires eleven different categories for certification in Automobile and Light Truck repairs; seven categories in Heavy-Duty Truck repair; and additional categories for Motorcycle and Recreational Trailer repairs. One can become a Master Automobile Mechanic here only after getting certified in the first eight categories in the Automobile and Light Truck repairs. Those that acquire fewer than six categories are called Specialty Mechanics. Engine repair, tune-ups, suspension and steering systems, brakes, transmissions, and drive axles are included in those categories. Electrical, heating and air conditioning systems may also be included.
Even if some states do not limit your ability to work as a mechanic even if you don’t possess any form of certification, a majority of the states may have requirements for certification in a specific field of expertise. Just like in Maine, where auto repair and maintenance rules are more strict, and all owners of a vehicle are required to have an annual vehicle inspection, a special certification is required for any mechanic who wants to be a vehicle inspector.
In California, work on emission equipment found in modern vehicles requires a mechanic to get certification. They also have three levels of certification for smog check technicians, as Californians take the problem of air pollution generated by the auto industry very seriously. Also, only mechanics with a state-issued license or certification can work on automobile brakes and lamps in California.
From a vehicle owner’s point of view, when there is vehicle malfunction, you want to have that peace of mind that your mechanic not only knows what he is doing but also receives proper automotive technical school training proven by the certifications he holds. The trust you put in a mechanic working on fixing your vehicle is like entrusting someone with your life on the road. Mechanics who do not receive necessary certification may also not receive proper training, so they have the tendency to cut corners. Poor workmanship done by a non-certified technician may put your life at risk on the road. For example., an improperly tightened tire could come loose from your vehicle, exposing you to very real danger at highway speeds.
Aside from the safety hazards involved, the work performed by an unlicensed or uncertified mechanic can void the warranty on parts like tires or after-market shock-absorbers, or it might even void the warranty on your vehicle altogether. Your dealership may refuse to honor the warranty of your vehicle if a major damage to your engine was traced down to the repair work done by an uncertified car mechanic.
No matter which state you are in, a certification may not be required for a technician to work on a vehicle, but it’s always a good idea – as well as of crucial importance in some cases – for a vehicle owner to only trust a genuinely certified technician.