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Becoming an ALI-Certified Lift Inspector

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Getting your annual vehicle lift inspection is not only important, but required by law. Unfortunately, not a lot of shops follow through on getting it done. And when they do, the inspectors say they are Automotive Lift Institute (ALI)-certified, when in reality, they aren’t.

According to a ‘Buyer Beware’ from ALI, some of these inspection service providers have never been ALI Certified Lift Inspectors, authorized participants of the ALI program or ALI Associate Members and are simply attempting to confuse buyers—yes, even previously-certified inspectors aren’t qualified to perform an inspection any longer.

But why are there so many inspectors posing as ALI-certified ones? Why don’t they just get re-certified? Simply put, it’s a long process.

For Brian Dahl, owner of Superior Automotive in Osceola, Wisc., it took him two years and $5,000 to become certified. Now, he’s been certified for five years and performs inspections at almost 300 shops each year. For any interested takers, or anyone curious to know how intense the process actually is, here’s the breakdown:

Step 1: Sign up.

First thing’s first: an interested applicant needs to have a minimum of 12 months experience as a vehicle lift inspector to apply via the certification program website. Once that’s complete, they need to register for the program, which costs $2,100.

Step 2: Fill out paperwork.

According to the registration page, ALI staff will provide the preliminary documents to complete within 48 hours of receiving your registration payment. Once these are complete, ALI will mail you a Program Participation Agreement for the applicant to sign. The program binder, online access to the Certification Program Manual, and course materials will ship following the return of the completed agreement.

Step 3: Schedule and attend orientation.

Once all of the course materials have arrived, the applicant will then need to schedule their orientation date, and there are not many to work with. In 2020, the remaining dates are April 16, July 16, and November 1. Dahl says he had to travel to New York to attend the six-hour orientation.

Step 4: Begin the course.

Yes, the course is a self-study program, but it takes a lot of studying to get there (Remember, it took Dahl two years to become fully certified).

Step 5: Take all the necessary tests.

According to ALI, there are two exams an inspector needs to pass—a pre-qualifying exam and a final exam. And yes, both of these tests include additional fees. An inspector can take the tests as many times as they want, but each time costs a big chunk of change. 

And there are only certain testing centers that an inspector can go to take the tests. Here’s a link for a location near you.

Step 6: Complete inspections.

Once you pass both of the exams, an inspector then has to complete 12 qualified inspections. Dahl says ALI wants an inspector to be able to do all kinds of inspections on lifts. Then, the inspector sends the summary of the inspections to ALI to be qualified. Dahl says even when you’re super thorough, ALI still finds things wrong with it, and they’ll call you up and tell you what you missed and what you did wrong.

To get a better insight on what certified inspectors look for, check out these handy lift safety tips.

* Certain information provided by the Automotive Lift Institute’s website.

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