FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 23, 2012) -- With Labor Day fast approaching, the Fort Rucker Automotive Skills Center wants to help people stay by offering free holiday vehicle inspections.

"Before any major holiday we encourage people to have their safety inspections done [on their vehicles] … to ensure the safety of our Soldiers and their Families," said Tina Barber, program manager at the center. "We just want to make sure that people are getting from Point A to Point B safely."

The inspection will be performed by the staff at the center and includes a check of all safety lights on the vehicle, headlights, high beams, brake lights, reverse lights, turn signals and emergency lights, said Barber. They will also check fluids and tire pressure before recommending if any action is needed to the vehicle.

"One of the big things is tire pressure," she said. "It's important to make sure that you have even tire pressure because if it's not even, it can cause the vehicle to pull to one side or the other, which can lead to other problems."

Barber said that failing to keep up with proper maintenance and inspections on a vehicle can lead to breaking down.

"It's an awful feeling to be broken down on the side of the road," said the program manager. "I've been there before and it came from my own foolishness because I wasn't doing what I've been telling people to do."

If during an inspection a problem is detected, the staff at the auto skills center will either remedy the problem on the spot or make an appointment with a mechanic if the issue cannot be corrected at that time, said Barber.

"We want to try and correct the issue on the spot if we can, but it depends on how serious the issue is," she said.

To prevent having maintenance issues, Barber suggests that people have at least a visual inspection done on their vehicle during every oil change.

"There are also maintenance schedules [in the vehicle's manual] that people should follow," she said. "If people want their car to last a long, long time, they should stick to those maintenance schedules."

The center wants to keep the people on Fort Rucker safe through any driving season, but is also looking to help people save money by teaching them how to perform maintenance on their own vehicles, according to the program manager.

"We offer weekly classes where people can come learn how to change their oil and things like that," said Barber. "People only need to provide the materials for what they want to learn how to do."

The center also has a mechanics for hire program, a hobby shop with instructors to help people, a paint booth and a car wash that is all available to active duty and their Families, Department of the Army civilians and contractors.

The skills center is a great place for people to go and get their hands dirty if they just want to work on their cars with help from experienced professionals, or learn about basic automotive knowledge, said Barber, adding that although it's a profession mostly dominated by men, women are starting to get in on the action.

"We're starting to get a lot of women in here because a lot of them are starting to tinker, and they should," she said. "I love working here because of the camaraderie and I'm a teacher by nature, so I like to share what I learn."

For more, call 255-9725.