FORT LEE, Va. – Helping military families save money and not get stranded on the side of the road are the cited goals of a new Family and MWR program here.
Classes in basic car care are being offered by the Auto Craft Shop until the end of June. Whether they will continue after that depends on attendance.
“We offer two hour-long courses,” elaborated Charles Jackson, an instructor at the facility. “Authorized FMWR patrons can sign up for the oil change or basic auto maintenance class. The latter one covers a lot of different things like how to change the air filter, check all fluids and even replace sparkplugs.”
The first person to register for a scheduled session has the option of allowing their vehicle to be used for the in-class demonstration. That patron would need to purchase the motor oil and filters needed for the training ahead of time. The craft shop staff can provide guidance for that requirement.
Jackson noted that minor maintenance jobs are relatively cheap for the vast majority of vehicles, and they can reduce the need for costly major fixes as a vehicle ages. Something as simple as regular oil changes can save thousands of dollars in the long run.
Safety also is a consideration. With the summer travel season coming up, Jackson said it is important to ensure vehicles are operating correctly before long road trips to avoid possible breakdowns on busy highways. The classes “tune participants in” to regular maintenance needs.
Patrons are not required to have any knowledge of or experience with car maintenance to attend the training sessions. Jackson acknowledged that taking care of vehicles can seem complicated because “not every car is the same.” However, most of the basic maintenance steps are similar – as demonstrated by the Auto Craft Center using one vehicle to conduct their step-by-step walkthroughs that are performed by the owner and closely observed by class participants.
“People shouldn’t be intimidated if they’ve never look under a hood,” Jackson said. “Some people don’t know the difference between transmission fluid and motor oil, which is the whole point of these classes. We’re here to help show them what goes where and guide them through the process. Truly, you don’t have to be mechanically inclined to learn the basics.”
COVID-19 has impacted the way instructional activities are conducted at the Auto Craft Center, making it important to register early.
“We’re limited to five people per class,” Jackson said, “so that we have ample space to allow for social distancing between the instructor and each patron. Participants also are required to wear a face mask at all times.”
The entrance road to the Auto Craft Center is located along Battle Drive, just after the Holiday Helper warehouse, directly across the street from the Lee Club. The next oil change class will be held May 15, 2-3 p.m., and another auto maintenance class is set for May 16, 2-3 p.m.
Service members interested in attending either of the classes can register through the Family and MWR website, lee.armymwr.com/happenings/auto-crafts-shop, or by calling the auto care facility at 804-734-6859.