By Christine JuneApril 22, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Air Force spouse Ann Callan first brought her 1999 Subaru Outback and then went back home to get her husband's 1992 BMW for the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Spring Safety Day free car inspections April 15 at the Pulaski Auto Skills center.
"Our cars are older, so there might be things that we haven't thought about - little things start to go wrong," said Callan on why she wanted to take both of her cars to these inspections.
More than 150 drivers found out about the "little things that could go wrong" at this free inspection, which was intended to make sure vehicles were safe for spring and summer vacations and road trips.
This free car inspection marks the fourth one the garrison has hosted for the Kaiserslautern military community, and it is tied into the Army Family Covenant - a commitment by Army leadership to improve the quality of life for families.
"We are providing for the spouses of Soldiers and Airmen by ensuring their family vehicles are safe, especially when their military sponsor is deployed," said Bob Bigelow, the garrison's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation community recreation officer.
Ranging from checking windshield wipers to lifting vehicles to check underneath for any safety concerns, inspections took about 30 minutes. These free inspections are quite in-depth and could cost about $80 to $100 in the states, said Don Breton, the garrison's Pulaski Auto Skills manager, who initiated free car inspections in 2007, holding them twice a year in spring and winter.
Professionals throughout the community volunteer their services for free, said Mike Cutlip, the garrison's Landstuhl Auto Skills manager. He cites the owner of the Bosch Service Palm in Landstuhl, Gerhard Palm and his son, Christian Palm, who were there to properly adjust headlights. This is the second time the Bosch professionals volunteered for the garrison's auto inspections to conduct free headlight tests on low and high beams, similar to those conducted throughout Germany in October.
"I've been able to get them to volunteer and spend the whole day adjusting headlights on numerous makes of vehicles so that people can get down the road without having to worry that one headlight is shining into the forest or another driver's eyes," said Cutlip, who added that almost every second car had to have its headlights adjusted.
Another professional who volunteered his services for the second time was Spc. Maurice Steele, a diesel mechanic with the 147th Postal Company.
"I just love doing it - helping out people," said Steele, who was there inspecting cars for the entire time - nine hours.
Drivers who were parents of small children were also able to have their children's car safety seats inspected by the garrison safety office's two certified child safety seat inspectors.
Inspections on each of the 15 car seats took about 30 minutes, said Scott Livingston, one of the garrison's certified child safety seat inspectors.
"The whole process is an education thing," he said. "We take the car seat completely out, talk to the parent and then, show them how to install it. We then take it out again and have the parent put it back in."
Livingston said the majority of car seats he inspected were too loose - an inch of play left to right or forward and back.
"(Livingston) is doing a fabulous job showing me how to hook them up the right way," said Christopher Haskell, whose wife is a Soldier currently deployed to Iraq. The Haskell's have two sons, ages 2 and 3. "I love that they did this today, and I'm glad I stopped here."
(Editor's Note: Christine June writes for the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)