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Mechanically inclined: Auto crafts programs great for novices, experts

Chris Davis, mechanic for hire at the Automotive Skills Center, works on a car in one of the bays at the center Aug. 12. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Chris Davis, mechanic for hire at the Automotive Skills Center, works on a car in one of the bays at the center Aug. 12. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: August 14, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 14, 2014) -- With Fort Rucker as the home of Army Aviation, it’s no surprise that the installation is full of people who love to tinker, and the automotive skills center is one place they can put on their mechanic’s hat.

The auto center, located on Headhunter Street off 3rd Avenue, offers programs to help Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees meet their vehicles’ needs from oil changes to engine swaps, according to Tina Barber, automotive skills center business manager.

Two of the biggest programs the auto skills center offers are the Self Help and Mechanics for Hire programs.

Through the Self Help Program, people can visit the center, and learn how to perform basic maintenance and repairs on their vehicles with the help and guidance of an automotive-skills professional.

“We will instruct them and assist them to get through what they’ve come here to accomplish,” said Barber. “This program is a good way for people to save money and to learn how to do the general maintenance for their car rather than having to pay an outside source to do the service.”

Through the program, people can learn how to perform maintenance, such as changing oil, front and rear brake repair, servicing of transmissions and differentials, tire mounting and balancing, and computer diagnostics for their vehicles, just to name a few.

“The only thing we don’t instruct on is the building of engines,” said the business manager. “That can get very involved and it’s a lot of work to put that motor in just to find out you have to pull it back out to fix what you might have done wrong.”

The cost of the program is $5.50 per hour for the basic bays, which includes tool usage, instruction if needed and how-to information, and availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The other popular program is the Mechanics for Hire Program, which Barber said has been booming lately.

“The program has been doing so well that we had to get some help,” she said. “With this program, any kind of repair that a vehicle might need in regards to maintenance and things like that we can do.”

Barber reminds that engine and transmission rebuilds cannot be done in house because of the lack of manpower.

“We can pull and replace them, but we don’t rebuild,” she said.

Mechanics for Hire is a good opportunity for people to get the maintenance and repair work they need right here on post, said Barber. People should call ahead for the Mechanics for Hire program to schedule an appointment for their maintenance needs.

In addition to the two programs, the automotive skills center also boasts a fully automatic car wash, as well as two car wash bays for hand washing. There are also vacuums available for people to use to clean the inside of their vehicles.

The center also houses a propane refill station, which people can have their 20-pound propane tanks filled for around $17, compared to other competitors that will only fill to 15 pounds, said Barber.

Barber also reminds people that proper maintenance of their vehicles goes hand-in-hand with safety and offers tips to remain safe while on the roadways.

“Have good defensive driving, and make sure your tires are in good condition,” she said. “The hot roads make the perfect condition to pop overused or weak tires, so make sure to check those before long road trips.”

For more information or to make appointments, call 255-9725.

This article was originally published at

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