Automotive Skills Center eases automotive repair, upkeep costs
UH-60 Black Hawk Aviation student Capt. Jason Traylor works on his 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser frame-off rebuild restoration project at the Fort Rucker Auto Skills Center. Traylor said he pays a $240 monthly special project fee that includes access to two bays, a storage bin and access to all center amenities, except for the paint booth, which is offered separately. Traylor estimates he has saved thousands of dollars by using the Auto Skills Center.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Unexpected automotive repairs and routine auto maintenance can put real stress on a Family's budget.

The Fort Rucker Automotive Skills Center has the equipment and services to save money on do-it-yourself car maintenance and repair.

Offering on-site instruction, assistance, tools and equipment, the Automotive Skills Center also has a Mechanic-for-Hire program which can save military Families money in repair labor fees.

The post Auto Skills Center, located on Headhunter Street at 2nd Avenue, is equipped with everything from lift and maintenance bays to hydraulic and McPherson strut presses, parts washer and on-the-spot instruction in a full range of maintenance-related jobs.

With a technical reference center that offers Mitchell-On-Demand software, patrons may access "how-to" automotive information including vehicle specific wiring diagrams, maintenance information, labor estimates, technical service bulletins and recalls.

Long-time do-it-yourselfer and instructor pilot Ed Sapp estimates he has saved about $25,000 over the years.

"I've completed rebuilds, replaced timing belts, shocks and struts and water pumps, serviced my air conditioning system and used just about every service the center provides," he said. "Today we're here changing out my daughter's car brake pads and completing an oil change for a fraction of what it would cost to have it professionally done. I figure today alone, I saved about $250. This center is a wonderful resource for all government (identification) card holders."

The center's 12 lift and 11 flat bays, and its year-old paint booth and body bay are open for all eligible patrons, said Tina Barber, Auto Skills Center program manager.

"Our facility can handle just about any automotive related job, and we have a staff of hands-on experts to help the novice become proficient and confident in caring for his or her vehicle," she said.

In addition to the scheduled how-to classes including oil change, tire maintenance, tune-ups, transmission filter service, front and rear brakes, emission controls and flat tire changing, the Automotive Skills Center can help with accessories and electrical troubleshooting, air conditioning and heating systems, steering and suspension systems, engine mechanical and engine performance.

Flight student Capt. Jason Traylor is in the process of rebuilding a 1973 Toyota Landcruiser.

"By the time I'm finished with this project, it will have cost me about $700 for the three months of bay rental and services included in the monthly fee associated with the special projects pricing," he said. "If I had had to pay for this project at a commercial enterprise, the cost would have been prohibitive."

"Special project fees vary depending on the size and scope of the project," said mechanic Brook Johns. "It includes everything available at the center except the paint booth, which runs $15 an hour or $70 a day."

The cross draft paint booth is heated and equipped with fire suppressant alarms, and is available by appointment only.

For those more mechanically challenged than Traylor or Sapp, the Automotive Skills Center mechanic-for-hire, Darold Brooks, is available by the hour Mondays-Fridays. Brooks also maintains all Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation fleet vehicles.

Barber encourages owners to stop by for a comprehensive vehicle inspection.

"For $40 we'll check all lights, turn signals, fluid levels, tire pressure, brakes and more," Barber said. "Over holiday periods such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and the Fourth of July, the inspections are offered for free."

When it comes to maintaining a vehicle's looks, the Automotive Skills Center has that covered with a state-of-the-art car wash, a shampoo and vacuum machine and even a fragrance spray option.

"No matter what your automotive needs, stop by the Auto Skills Center and let us help you," Barber said.

For more information or to set up an appointment, call 255-9725 or visit

Hours of Operation

Monday-Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - Friday - 10:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday - 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday - 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Services Provided

* Brake Lathe
* Hydraulic Press
* McPhereson Strut Press
* Engine Computer Scan
* Air Conditioning Service
* Air Conditioning Change-over
* Auto Repair Service (Mechanic for Hire)
* Pre-Purchase Inspection
* Propane
* Shop Features
* Lift Bay
* Maintenance Bay
* Battery Charge
* Battery Charge
* Sandblasting
* Tire Mount (mounting or dismounting)
* Tire Balance
* Tire Plug
* Tire Disposal
* Paint Booth (appointments only)
* Jumpstart/Roadside Assistance

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16