By Amy Newcomb, Fort Campbell CourierFebruary 13, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- With the sounds of an air ratchet loosening the lug nuts on the wheels of a vehicle next to them and the smell of oil draining from the Cheverolet Silverado suspended above, Fort Campbell Soldiers learned Monday the basic skills needed to change their oil, change their brakes and plug a tire.
"It helps you save money if you know how to do it yourself," said Spc. Darius Sanders of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. "It's an everyday skill -- it's a good way to use preventive maintenance on your car."
The Fort Campbell Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers was one of two BOSS programs selected by the Department of the Army for the BOSS Life Skills Training pilot program which began Monday.
Sergeant Carol Krone, BOSS president, said the Department of the Army chose this installation as one of the pilot sites because "it's immensely embedded in historic Army tradition with deep roots of taking care of single Soldiers. The volume of Fort Campbell single Soldiers is 14,000 plus and it changes on a daily basis. So, coupled with the mission, this was a determining factor in making Fort Campbell a pilot site."
The program will run through Feb. 19 and will benefit 70 Fort Campbell Soldiers during one of several four-hour sessions held at the North Side Auto Skills center and is geared toward automotive preventive maintenance education.
Krone said the plan is to provide single Soldiers with the education and equipment necessary to further their knowledge about their privately owned vehicles.
"[I learned] how to find my air filter, how to change my oil, make sure the tire tread on my tires were OK," said Spc. Alison Abey, BOSS vice president, who loaned her vehicle as one of the teaching aids. "I didn't know a whole bunch about it, so it was really nice."
The pilot program provided not only the education, but also the environment and the equipment, Krone said.
"We are trying to open their awareness to what is available on Fort Campbell … like the North [Side] Auto Skills center, Air Assault Auto," Krone said. "So they don't have to go off-post to do this maintenance, they can do it on-post for next to nothing in cost." At the completion of each four-hour session, the Soldiers who attended the event will receive a two-ton compact trolley jack with two stands, tire plug kit, four-way lug tool, tire pressure gauge, filter wrench and an emergency car kit.
"We are trying to enhance their skills, so we are trying to provide them with something they can use outside of the military," she said. "Being able to work on their own car if an emergency happens -- they have the knowledge to do it now and they are not just stuck out there waiting for someone else to come help them out. They can help themselves."
Alex Quick, North Side Auto Skills instructor, said the most important concepts Soldiers can take away from what they learned is how to be self-sufficient, self-supporting and self-sustaining.
"When you get into the full-service world outside of this building [North Side Auto] it's $100 to $200 an hour for everything that you are doing here for $6 to $8 an hour," Quick said. "Some people can't afford that, especially lower ranking Soldiers that don't make lots of money."
Quick said a huge benefit to learning preventive maintenance is being able to service your own brakes which are likely to cost you $100 to $200 at automotive businesses off-post.
"Even someone without a whole lot of experience can come in here and get it done and get it done right for less than $50 usually, and that is counting the price of their pad and time on the lift," he said. "Here they have certified instructors that if they have a problem or they have a question -- they can come to us."
Roger Edwards, Air Assault Auto and North Side Auto Skills assistant manager, taught the Soldiers what they would look for if they were doing maintenance on their vehicles.
"Things like oil leaks … I pointed them out. Things for them to look at to avoid costly repairs down the road -- things I would look at during an oil change on my vehicle," Edwards said. "We took a wheel off and checked the brakes, we put the tire back on and discussed the importance of changing your fluids on a regular preventative maintenance schedule and rotating tires."
Edwards said they also reviewed using the right types of oil, the right types of antifreeze and then they showed them how to remove the tire from the wheel, reinstall the tire and how to balance it.
"All these things will help a Soldier in the long run," Edwards said.
"If something were to happen where they break down or their car overheats in the middle of the highway, they know how to take care of it, they know what they need to do -- it's just good help … it really is," Abey said.