The certificates are good for two years. A tip from Matthew White, TIA's tire service director: Hold off buying the DVDs because the updated versions will be out in the first quarter of next year.
Basic training, also known as the 200 level, is required for every employee. For more experienced technicians, TIA offers certified technician programs (300 level) that require attending a training seminar taught by a TIA-certified instructor and passing a final examination.
The association's most advanced courses (400 level) are the certified instructor programs that tackle the latest technology and mix hands-on exercises and demonstrations with classroom work.
Training covers a swath of subjects ranging from personal protective equipment like the proper work shoes and safety glasses, to wheel/tire removal, identifying problems, tire repair, balance and run-out, to bolt hole seats and proper lug nuts.
Mr. Pease also mentioned the challenges veteran tire professionals can present when they think they know everything they need to know because they've been doing it for decades. Those who are new to the field may wind up duplicating mistakes or risky procedures.
“I run into this all the time. (The technicians) don't take care of themselves,” Mr. Pease said. “They don't use any of the safety equipment, and it's only a matter of time before something happens.”
The TIA program also covers the proper ways to lift a vehicle. A manufacturer may require specific locations and procedures to safely raise a particular model. Mr. Pease said he once received a phone call from a tire shop's technicians working on a Mercedes-Benz — when they lifted the vehicle, its doors popped ajar. They wound up having to replace the customer's vehicle.
“The insurance company wasn't too happy about that,” he said wryly.
The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) is a very helpful resource that publishes a guide showing the lift points for scores of vehicles, he noted.
“Training is something your lawyer can beat you up with,” Mr. Pease continued, “so have some kind of standard procedure for your shop, where each time a customer comes in, you use ALI. Every time you get a question, you can resort back to the guide.