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Motor Industry on a Mission to Flush Out the Cowboys as First 1,000 Technicians Sign Up for Skills Tests

LONDON, December 7 --

In the most concerted drive to raise standards of technical competence in the retail motor industry, the UK's first national voluntary assessment system for car technicians, Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA), has seen over 1,000 technicians register since launching in June 2005.

Developed over three years, Automotive Technician Accreditation is a national benchmark of current competence for technicians, of which there are an estimated 150,000 in the UK, who are working on increasingly complex vehicles.

To achieve ATA status, technicians must pass a series of practical tasks and an on-line knowledge test at an ATA approved assessment centre, of which there are over 60 in the UK, including major vehicle manufacturers and national service and repair organisations, as well as colleges of further education.

There are three levels of accreditation:

- Service Maintenance Technician

- Diagnostic Technician

- Master Technician

ATA-registered technicians sign a Code of Conduct prior to being issued with a unique photo identity card and details of where they are located are listed on the ATA web-site. All technicians must be re-assessed after five years to maintain their credentials.

Governed by the Institute of the Motor Industry, the automotive sector's professional association, Automotive Technician Accreditation is backed by major partners including: BMW; DaimlerChrysler; Ford; Hertz; Mondial Assistance; Nationwide Autocentres; Peugeot; Toyota; Volkswagen; Volvo and Unipart. ATA also has the support of the Government, Trading Standards and Which?

Even with 37 years' experience, one of the motor industry's foremost automotive diagnostic experts, Frank Massey, of Preston-based Automotive Diagnostic Solutions, became the first independent technician to achieve ATA Master Technician status.

Commented Frank:

"It has long been my dream to see skilled craftsmen in the automotive industry recognised and rewarded for their pride and knowledge. The challenges of modern electronics in vehicles demand continuing professional development. ATA ensures such efforts will be recognised by the general public and industry alike and will inspire gifted youngsters much needed by our sector."

Commenting on Automotive Technician Accreditation, Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, said:

"ATA clearly identifies proven current competence, which is as important to consumers as it is to businesses seeking qualified technicians. The level of support within the motor industry would suggest that at least 50% of businesses involved in vehicle servicing and repair nation-wide will be actively supporting ATA within the next five years."

Full details of Automotive Technician Accreditation are on-line at

IMI's Top 10 tips on having your car serviced

1) Check that technicians are fully qualified and/or accredited by an organisation such as the IMI or Trading Standards.

2) Ensure that the garage is familiar with your car's make and model.

3) Do inform the service staff of any problems and/or any recent work carried out - be honest.

4) Check what is included in the service, and what isn't. If you don't have it, ask to see a copy of the service schedule for your vehicle.

5) Check the breakdown of costs, including all parts, consumables, labour and VAT - you should know exactly what you are paying for.

6) Insist that no additional work is undertaken without your authorisation. If recommended by the garage, this should be quoted against, not estimated.

7) Ask for any replaced parts to be retained for your inspection.

8) Ensure that you receive a detailed itemised report with a verbal explanation of the work undertaken and/or recommended. Ask about the garage's quality control checks and make sure your service book is stamped.

9) Ensure that the name of the technician that works on your car is detailed on your invoice. Ask to speak to him or her specifically, if you have any concerns or require necessary explanations.

10) Ensure that you receive a guarantee. Make sure you know what it covers and check the period of validity.

Note to Editors:

The IMI is the professional association for individuals working in the retail motor industry and is the leading awarding body of vocational qualifications in the automotive sector. With 25,000 members and 46,000 registered students at 300 approved assessment centres, the IMI is focused on improving professional standards through the recognition, qualification and development of individuals.

Its portfolio includes apprenticeships, N/SVQs, technical certificates, vehicle sales awards and certificate and diploma in automotive retail management (ARMS). The IMI governs the industry's Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) initiative.

For further information and full details of Automotive Technician Accreditation please contact: Stuart Brooks or Aisleen Marley, Tel: +44-(0)1992-511521