SAE Standards


by Jacques Gordon

“Standards” are defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary as “an accepted method of measuring things of a similar type.” Standards of measurement are critical to the success of modern technology, and in our industry those standards are created by the International Society of Automotive Engineers, officially known as SAE International, or SAE for short.

Much of the technology in mobile air conditioning is required by law to meet specific SAE Standards. Some people feel it’s logical for those Standards to be freely available to anyone who wants to read them. After all, if the government requires companies to build parts, components, tools and even training materials to a given SAE standard, why does the SAE charge a fee for every copy of that Standard? Shouldn’t it be readily available to anyone who wants a copy?

Well, no; and there are two reasons.

SAE doesn’t require companies to build to its Standards; that requirement comes from government and industry associations. However, SAE does require any company claiming their product meets an SAE Standard to prove it by also meeting SAE Standard J-2911. This Standard provides a procedure for certifying that a product is designed, built to and/or performs in accordance with the Standards appropriate to that product. So while meeting the product Standard is voluntary, meeting J-2911 is required when claiming the product meets the SAE product Standard and when using the SAE label on the product or package. When the appropriate documents are submitted and SAE is satisfied the product does indeed meet the Standard, it will be listed in a database on the SAE web site for all to see. (

Secondly, SAE is a non-profit organization, and they sell publications to raise operating revenue. SAE Standards are copyrighted and licensed for use by the person or company purchasing the document. Electronic copies are downloaded “for temporary storage on one computer” and available for viewing “only for the duration of the subscription,” and they cannot be saved or distributed over a computer network. Purchasing a hard copy gives the purchaser the right to own a permanent copy that can be shared within a department, but it may not be edited or reproduced.

In return for the purchase of their documents, SAE International provides a unique legal structure for setting Standards that affect whole industries. This is important because the volunteers serving on the Standards committees come from manufacturers all over the industry, all over the world. There are not many circumstances where competitors can sit in the same room and collaborate on mutually beneficial activities, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission watches closely for any sign of collusion or anti-competitive activity. Unlike lobbyists, even the primary authors of a Standard do not get to keep their own copy, because after it’s written the Standard is reviewed by other engineers and experts outside the committee. So in remaining “the ultimate knowledge source for mobility engineering” as stated in the Website tagline, SAE also strives to set standards for open, transparent cooperation. Those Standards benefit not only industry, but also everyone in the world who benefits from modern transportation technology.


The 34th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Power Up  will take place January 16-18 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Go here to register.

The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!

When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, for more information.

You can E-mail us at . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here  to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.


About macsworldwide

Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Founded in 1981, MACS is the leading non-profit trade association for the mobile air conditioning, heating and engine cooling system segment of the automotive aftermarket. Since 1991, MACS has assisted more than 600,000 technicians to comply with the 1990 U.S. EPA Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide’s mission is clear and focused--as the recognized global authority on mobile air conditioning and heat transfer industry issues.
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