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MCAS auto center both full- and self-service
Whether Marines want to work on their own vehicles or have a mechanic do the repairs for them, they can go to the Auto Skills Center at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
Manager King Wong said the Auto Skills Center - also known as the Hobby Shop - not only provides services for Marines who don't mind getting their hands greasy while turning a few wrenches, but also to those who are still novices when it comes to making their own repairs and just want to learn more.
"They seem to enjoy doing it themselves more often, not only to save money but to also learn a valuable trade while doing it," Wong said. "We are a fully equipped facility for do-it-yourself vehicle service, maintenance, and repairs."
The Auto Skills Center, Wong said, is equipped to handle a wide range of vehicle repairs. It has 12 self-service bays with full-vehicle hydraulic lifts, a large assortment of hand and power tools, a welding room, an engine rebuilding room, an engine analyzer and even a tire changing and balancing machine.
"We are pretty well equipped with all the basic tools someone would need," Wong said. "Every so often we get funding to replace tools that get worn out or come up missing. We received $14,000 this year."
In addition to offering do-it-yourself mechanics a place to work on their vehicles, Wong said the Auto Skills Center employs three master certified mechanics who can offer them advice on the repairs they are making and answer any questions they may have. Repairs manuals on most American and foreign car makes are also available.
"We have two other employees who can't do any of the work but have the basic automotive knowledge to offer advice to customers," Wong said. "If they need help, they can give them the information they need and put them on the right track."
On average, Wong said, the Auto Skills Center gets about 600 customers a month doing both minor and major repair work on their vehicles.
A wide variety of parts and supplies is available for sale at the facility's fully stocked parts store, where parts can also be ordered if needed.
"We stock most of the basic stuff like oil, filters, brake pads, hoses and spark plugs," Wong said. "For anything we don't have, we have contracts with dealers and parts shops in town, so we can get it.
"If we have to order something, the part will usually be here within 30 minutes."
The facility is open six days a week - Tuesdays through Saturdays - from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.
Prices are very affordable, Wong said. The self-service bays can be rented for $2.50 an hour for a stall without a full-vehicle hydraulic lift, and $3.50 an hour for a bay with one.
"We are usually busy all the time. Marines can save a lot of money over the year by doing the work themselves."
For Marines who don't want to do the work themselves, they can pay the mechanics at the Auto Skills Center $52 an hour to do it for them, which is what Lance Cpl. Josue Aguirre chose to do.
"I'm just trying to take care of it because it is old," Aguirre said of his 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup, which he was dropping off at the Auto Skill Center. "I'm sure it is going to last a lot longer, I'm just having some minor things done."
Aguirre said he brought his pickup to the Auto Skills Center after getting estimates from several other repair places off base that ranged between $500 and $600 to have his brakes repaired.
"I decided to have it done here, and it only cost me $180. They don't try and rip you off like some places in town."
Aguirre said he could have probably done the brake job himself, but he just didn't have the time, nor did he want to risk messing it up.
"I do like having the option to work on my own vehicle if I chose to do so," Aguirre said. "And if I had more time, I'm sure I would."
Wong said the Auto Skills Center can perform a wide variety of major and minor automotive repairs such as tune-ups, oil changes, electronic engine diagnostics, brake jobs, engine and clutch work, tire services and air conditioning checks.
Aguirre also cited convenience as another reason he chose to take his Nissan pickup to the Auto Skills Center.
The corporal went on to say that when you live and work on base, often it is also very hard to get your vehicle to a repair shop out in town.
"Here you can drop it off and they call you when it is ready," Aguirre said. "You can walk over and pick it up because it is so close."
Wong said the Auto Skills Center also has a carwash for making their cars shine when they are done. There is also a temporary storage lot in case you can't finish making your repairs in one day, Wong said.
The Auto Skills Center is open to all active-duty personnel, military retirees, National Guard personnel, Reserve personnel, Department of Defense civilians and their family members.
"Serving my customers is the most rewarding part of my job," Wong said.