…. Says Chiamaka (Lady Mechanic)
NATA News: Tell us about yourself.
Chiamaka: My name is Asu-eze Chiamaka Jacinta, a Nigerian from Imo State. I’m a female technician, single and was born on 30th of July, 1992.
I attended Ajeromi Ifelodun Primary School in Lagos State between 1998 and 2003; then Junior High School /Senior High School between 2004 and 2009.
I enrolled with Lady Mechanic Initiative in year 2013 and graduated in year 2016.
I started working with Globe Motors in year 2017 (till date).
NATA News: Tell us about your family.
Chiamaka: I’m from a family of five, three boys and two girls.
NATA News: How has your family been coping with your kind of job?
Chiamaka: Initially my dad didn’t approve my idea of being a Lady Mechanic because he felt it was meant for the male gender. Afterwards he was impressed with the outcome and how dedicated I was to my chosen profession.
NATA News: Are you in a relationship?
NATA News: What motivates you?
Chiamaka: My boss, Madam Sandra Aguebor (First Lady Mechanic in Nigeria)
NATA News: What are you passionate about?
Chiamaka: My job.
NATA News: What is your greatest weakness?
Chiamaka: I’m very emotional.
NATA News: How do you handle stress and pressure?
Chiamaka: I’ll just calm my nerves and do my work diligently to avoid errors.
NATA News: How do you try to develop the weaker members of your team?
Chiamaka: Just try to carry them along as the work goes to improve their knowledge of the job.
NATA News: How would you describe the pace at which you work?
Chiamaka: It’s a we’ll equipped standard workshop which is very conducive and makes the job easier.
NATA News: Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Chiamaka: Team; because it gives you room to solve problems faster when everyone shares their ideas.
NATA News: If the people who know you were ask why you should be hired what will they say?
Chiamaka: They’ll say I’m passionate about my job and I’m a good listener.
NATA News: What do people most often criticize about you?
Chiamaka: That I’m too serious about my work sometimes.
NATA News: What is your greatest strength?
Chiamaka: When I’m being underestimated, it gives me inspiration to do more.
NATA News: What are your strengths as an Automobile Repair/maintenance Mechanic?
Chiamaka: My biggest strengths as a mechanic are my ability to troubleshoot, maintain patience on very detailed projects, and my willingness to stay up to date on changes in vehicle technology.
NATA News: How would your co-workers describe your attention to detail?
Chiamaka: My co-workers would describe my attention to details as very strong. I can very easily point out discrepancies on a report and will notice the small things like an engine sounding slightly off. I think big-picture as well, but have always had a knack for details.
NATA News: What are the main duties of an automotive technician position?
Chiamaka: Major duties of an automotive technician include: inspecting the vehicle, assessing the operational problems, performing computerized and electronic testing using specialized equipment, conducting road tests and providing repairing guidance to mechanics and technical staff. Range of duties also includes fine tuning of the engine and maintenance of service and repair records.
NATA News: What are some of the diagnosis and repair areas that you are experienced in?
Chiamaka: I have experience in handling advanced fuel ignition, suspension and alignment, air conditioning and brakes and hydraulics systems.
NATA News: Once you have made assessments on an automobile, what is your next step?
Chiamaka: After I know what it is that an automobile needs, I convert mechanical jargon into laymen terms for customers so that they can understand what is wrong with their vehicle. Once I know that they are aware of the problem, I provide them with a time and cost estimate of the repairs that need to be done.
NATA News: What skills do you believe an automotive technician needs to be successful at/in his job?
Chiamaka: Apart from possessing mechanical skills, an automotive technician needs to have a high level of motivation and energy. He or she needs to possess good customer service skills as well.
NATA News: Before you hand over a repaired or troubleshot vehicle to a customer, what do you do to ensure that the vehicle works properly?
Chiamaka: I always road-test the vehicle I have repaired or performed maintenance on. This way, I can determine if the repair or maintenance work actually works in a real time environment.
NATA News: How do you handle a situation where your supervisor asks you to do something in a way you are not familiar with?
Chiamaka: I am an adaptable person and highly respect authority. Whatever way the supervisor tells me to carry out a task; I’ll definitely try to do it that way without complaining or arguing.
NATA News: Share an experience where you handled a difficult situation.
Chiamaka: Once; I raised an engine singlehandedly in an old vehicle to fix a problem. It was done to perfection, but while lowering the engine I realized that the lower body was rusting and the procedure took much longer than initially anticipated.
NATA News: What do you find most challenging while fixing a problem?
Chiamaka: Sometimes the customers persist on seeing the whole repair done and they start asking too many questions which makes it difficult to concentrate. I find such situations quite challenging and usually try to minimize the conversation until the problem has been fixed to allow my maximum concentration where it should be.
NATA News: What do you do to make sure your vehicle inspection is comprehensive?
Chiamaka: I maintain a proper checklist and for each car that comes in for diagnosis or service I go through that checklist carefully to make sure my inspection and assessment is thorough and that I am not missing any aspect.
NATA News: Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult client, what could you have done differently?
Chiamaka: During my first year at work, I fixed a serious defect in a car’s engine but failed to fix the muffler properly. The customer returned within a week complaining of the noise and claiming a refund. I had great difficulty in convincing him that the noise was just due to the muffler and that I can fix it. I learnt from this incident to always check minor details before closing up the engine in future.
Regular check-up of parts like:
Tyres and brakes
Fluid levels (Coolant, Washer fluid, Brake fluid, Oil, Power steering, etc.)
Fuel filters and Injectors
Belts and hoses
Lubrication of wheel
Bearing and ball joints.
NATA News: How often does a car requires services?
Chiamaka: Car requires services yearly and major maintenance at 6,000 miles.
NATA News: Before buying a used car, what things you should look out for?
Chiamaka: Any leakage of oil underneath the car! Check any leakage of coolant water from the radiator. Check battery condition. Check whether car emits blue gray, dense smoke or a normal smoke from exhaust pipe.
Watch out for engine noises, any vibrations, lack of power or any other issues.
Check for any burning smells when you open the hood. Check steering wheel, driver’s seat and inner door.
Check tyres (Edge should not worn out; no bulge on the sidewall, no cuts, enough groves to hold the road).
Check that all meter work fine when you start the car.
NATA News: Explain how Timing Belt works.
Chiamaka: Timing belt rests on the crankshaft pulley and either one or two camshaft pulley; they are all aligned through timing belt. The closing and opening of engine valves are controlled by camshaft to let in air and fuel mixture or exhaust gas, if you do not have a timing belt or damaged timing, it will directly affect the timing of opening and closing of engine valves. This is the reason it is called timing belt and if not in a good position, it will damage your engine.
NATA News: Please explain what the difference between Crankshaft and Camshaft is.
Chiamaka: Crankshaft: It is linked to the pistons by the connecting rods; the force produced by the fuel-air mixture is transmitted to the crankshaft and converted to rotary motion as the crankshaft turns.
Camshaft: It controls the intake and exhaust valves. It is linked with crankshaft either by timing chain or belt, and it turns one rotation for each two rotations of the crankshaft, for each valve it operates- the cam opens each valve at the correct time to draw fuel and air mixture or expel the exhaust gas.
NATA News: What may cause Engine Overheat?
Chiamaka: Engine gets overheat when; Coolant leaks. Cooling system clogged. Weak radiator cap; Thermostat stuck shut. Inoperative electric cooling fan; Bad fan clutch, slipping fan belt, missing fan shroud. Too high or low concentration of anti-freeze. Collapsed radiator hose, or debris in the radiator. Restricted exhaust system.
NATA News: What is Automotive Charging System is made up of?
Chiamaka: Automotive charging system is made up of: Battery, Voltage Regulator and Alternator.
• Interview conducted by David Opeyemi Shodunke