car showroom
car showroom (courtesy 123rf.com)
What informs an average Nigerian’s choice of what brand of car to buy is 'popular street opinion' which usually originates from Mechanic workshops. This is a wise choice for such decision making. But to understand the effect this decision is having on the Nigerian automobile market, you need to know what an average Nigerian Mechanic is made of.
In advanced Countries (at least in 'who got what first') like Europe, Canada and the US where there are training centers like the Automotive training center Surrey, Jaguar Land Rover centers and other apprenticeship centers that are owned or supported by the brands they represent, technical information on new technologies can be handed down to apprentists by the very companies that introduced them.
The situation in Nigerian is quite different. I refer to what we have as ‘inherited Technical skills’. This is a situation where an apprentice serves a master for a period of time, during which he is expected to acquire the skill of his master. This would have been a good strategy if only the masters skill (which he also inherited), together with the ones he acquired from trial and error methods (from peoples cars of course) are still relevant in repair of modern cars.

Developments in Automobile Technology
Let’s look at developments in automobile technology over the past 15 years. The basics of ignition, transmission and propulsion have not changed, but something else have. The late 90’s till now have seen an application of electronic and computer technology in governing and control of the basics car systems. Such control systems include ECUs (Engine Control Systems), PECUs (Programmable ECUs), CCU (Central Control Unit) etc. An understanding of the basic systems without a follow up on the governing systems will only result in flaw in an attempt to fix any modern car.
That is the average situation of an average Nigerian car mechanic. The skills they are working with and transferring to the next generation of repair guys are obsolete basic skills. I call them obsolete because the car systems that those skill sets can fix rarely go bad these days. Gone are the days when cylinder heads and pistons need periodic cleaning (decarbonising) to keep the car running. These days, a car can go in excess of 300,000 km on factory fitted parts and with good lubrication practices without decarbonising or replacement. A good gear box or clutch system will also go about the same distance or more with good driving skills.

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