Auto Crafts class welcomes women in for breakfast, tour, hands-on instruction
Sandra Colon changes the oil and oil filter on her vehicle as Richard Babcock, Wiesbaden Auto Skills Center director, assists during the Auto Skills Class for Women June 4.

WIESBADEN, Germany - "If your vehicle wanders, squeals on one side or pulls considerably, it might need an alignment."

That's one of the many words of advice women were given as they were shown around the new Auto Skills Center on Wiesbaden's Clay Kaserne June 4. As Richard Babcock, Auto Skills Center director, talked about the facility's services and state-of-the-art equipment, participants in the Auto Skills Class for Women had an opportunity to ask questions about car care and to become better acquainted with changing the oil and filter on a vehicle.

Before hoisting one of the participant's vehicles, class members took a look under the hood and Babcock explained how to check the various fluids, for battery corrosion and the importance of maintaining proper fluid levels and engine cleanliness. He also showed them how to properly jump start a car in the event of a low battery.

"There are different grades of jumper cables -- the thicker the better," he explained, stressing the safety value in grounding the cables (attaching one cable to grounded metal rather than directly to the negative terminal of the car to be jumped).

Babcock, the recipient of an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and recognized as Installation Management Command's Recreation Employee of the Year in 2012, explained that some newer model cars no longer feature dipsticks whereby owners can check fluids but rather have computer gauges indicating when fluids need to be topped or replaced.

"If we have old oil or batteries can we bring them here for disposal?" asked one of the auto skills students.

"Yes," said Babcock, adding that the old oil should not be mixed or contaminated with other chemicals or fluids to be disposed at the Auto Skills Center.

"I've got a question about oil changes -- do I have to bring my own oil and filter," asked another participant.

Babcock explained that vehicle operators should bring their own oil and filter and can get advice about which items to purchase in their vehicle manual and from the staff at the Car Care Center on Mainz-Kastel Storage Station.

"We're planning on offering the Auto Skills Class for Women about once a quarter," Babcock said.

The initial session started with breakfast, and Joyce Schloesser, one of the organizers of the class, said future sessions would be structured similarly, with a small fee of $5 covering the breakfast and class.

"I wanted to take the class because the last time I changed the oil on a car was years ago," said Sandra Colon. "My dad is a mechanic. I signed up because my husband is deployed and I wanted to be ready in case something happened to my car. I needed to get acquainted with everything again because it's been so long since I've worked on a car."

"A woman can do anything on the vehicle if she sets her mind to it," said Schloesser, adding that the class also provides a stress relief for military and civilian spouses.

"I'm interested in the newer automobiles," said Betty Peterson, echoing Colon about the changes in technology since she first worked on a vehicle. "I'm seeing things on the newer engines I hadn't seen 30 years ago -- things like where to put the jack in the case of a flat tire.

"I'm from a small town and we used to crawl around under cars. … From the basic knowledge I've gotten today I think I could come in and actually change my oil," Peterson added.

Schloesser said the next Auto Skills Class for Women will most likely be offered again in September and publicized prior to that date.

The center is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and training holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and all U.S. holidays.

Babcock recommended that people call in advance at civ (0611) 705-6679 to ensure bay space is available. For those wanting services -- such as oil changes, air conditioning charging and repair, tire replacement -- Babcock said vehicle owners should drop off their cars by 11 a.m. to be ready by the end of the day.

Auto Skills is located on the north side of Clay Kaserne -- across the airfield -- and can be accessed through the North Gate, via Erbenheim (the address is Rennbahnstrasse 12, 65205 Wiesbaden-Erbenheim). To view a map on the garrison's home page visit

The facility also features a do-it-yourself four-bay wand car wash that is open for access from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the access hours for the North Gate. Tokens are available directly at the car wash.

Page last updated Tue June 18th, 2013 at 08:14