Fleet Garage staff teach car maintenance to undergrad group

  • Post published:March 28, 2023

As fall’s temperate weather began to settle in over Ann Arbor one October Saturday, a group of about eight Blavin Scholars made their way to the transportation facility on Kipke Drive for some basic automotive maintenance tips.

“Every year the Blavin Scholars Program hosts our Life Skills Conference and the purpose is to address skills gaps scholars may have due to their foster care experience,” said a member of the Blavin Scholars Team. “As we were planning for the event, car maintenance was a topic that we kept coming back to. We reached out to Fleet where we were connected with DJ and he was more than happy to help!”

DJ Scheller (left) and Tim Seeger ran the Blavin Scholars through the paces of basic car maintenance, teaching them important life skills they may not have had a chance to learn.

DJ Scheller, the Day Shift Garage Senior Supervisor, and Tim Seeger, a Heavy Equipment Mechanic gave a 30-minute presentation on everything from strategies for communicating with a mechanic, proper orientation of the vehicle (driver’s side rear vs passenger side front), what certain warning lights on the dashboard mean, looking for answers in the owner’s manual, and how to describe sounds when they bring it into a garage (squeals, squeaks, clunks, grinding, and more).

After some great Q&A (such as: when is it time to give up on a vehicle and look at getting a new one), the group headed out to the garage.

A young woman and a mechanic change a tire
DJ Scheller and a student work together to change a flat tire.

DJ and Tim ran the students through the paces of basic car maintenance. With students volunteering, they went about checking the dipstick, examining the tire pressure, and changing a flat with the tools typically found in the trunk of a vehicle.

Once they got the car up on the screw jack and removed the lugnuts (manually, of course), Tim showed them how the equipment in the fleet garage allows the mechanics to do the entire process in a fraction of the time.

“With around 1,000 vehicles in our fleet and four mechanics on staff, we complete approximately 3,000 work orders each year,” explained DJ with a smile as the students all seemed in awe at the speed with which Tim was able to put everything back together. “Our highly trained mechanics in the Fleet Garage do everything from changing a headlight bulb or wiper blade for preventative maintenance to engine or transmission replacement.”

A student and a mechanic fly on the floor looking at a car jack with a flashlight.
DJ Scheller gives a student a close-up look at how to change a tire.

As the students left the garage and headed to their next workshop for the day, Tim and DJ said goodbye to everyone. Both felt like it was a meaningful experience for LTP and the Blavin Scholars.

“Both our students and professional staff left the workshop having learned something new! Several students shared that the car maintenance workshop was their favorite session of the day,” said Mikaila LaClear, Blavin Campus Coach. “We also gained a new valuable relationship with the folks at LTP and look forward to working together in the future!”

Written by Nicholas Gallo