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NEWS | June 16, 2017

Fix your own car

By Airman Joshua R. Maund 628th Public Affairs

Preparing your automobile for summertime road trips doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. We all like saving money and driving a reliable car. Often these circumstances don’t coincide. Luckily, Joint Base Charleston has an answer for this dilemma. Located on the JB Charleston-Weapon Station, just off Redbank Road, is the Auto Skills Center (ASC). The facility is available to anyone with a valid Department of Defense issued ID.

Filled with every tool imaginable and a knowledgeable staff, it is possible to fix just about anything on your car here. Various online forums and vlogging sites, like YouTube, are available offering step-by-step tutorials to diagnose and fix various problems for free.

The ASC has 12 bays, nine with lifts, two flat bays and one motorcycle bay. It is best to arrive early because the bays fill up and the ASC does not reserve them under any circumstance. The rates are $5 per hour for the flat bays and $8 per hour for the lift bays. Some of the bays are located outside for trucks with a high clearance. The outside bays make it possible to raise oversized vehicles to more practical heights on which to work.

When considering to purchase a car, it’s best to ask to have it inspected by a third party. The ASC provides a relaxed environment for you and an experienced friend to inspect the vehicle inside and out. I believe if you’re nice to the staff, and they are not busy, they might be able to provide you an unbiased opinion of the car’s condition.

If you make the decision to buy a used car from a private party, the ASC is available to perform the standard procedures such as oil changes, sparkplug, ignition coil, tire and brake inspections. Take my word for it, performing automobile maintenance can be overwhelming. However, if you could save countless dollars by watching one specific tutorial throughout your life, would you watch it?

As cliché as it sounds, I bought my dream car, an RX-8 sports car, in tech school. I had wanted this car since I was 13 years old. To be completely honest, I couldn’t explain the function of a sparkplug and had never changed my own oil. The first time I took my car in to have the basic maintenance performed, I was quoted a price of $1,200! Being new to Charleston, I didn’t have the tools to perform the work myself.  Then, I overheard an Airman talking about the ASC. I ended up researching and performing the maintenance myself for only $250, bay rental included!

The ASC is an invaluable resource we have at our disposal as members of the JB Charleston community. We should all use the facilities available to us to be as financially ready as possible while learning in the process.