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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Auto Skills Center offers options for car repairs

By Joycelyn Biggs | | January 16, 2014


One patron loosened a bolt underneath her car as Rex Manning, Auto Skills Center assistant manager, looked on. She prepared to change the oil in her vehicle.

Another patron worked independently replacing the engine in his car. Mel Scoggins, manager, Auto Skills Center, checked the tires on yet another vehicle.

The Auto Skills Center gives patrons the option to have car repairs completed by do-it-with guidance, do-it-yourself, or they do-it-for-you methods. 

The center offers a wide range of auto services with a first come, first served policy. It is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Some services available are light body work, such as fixing a dent, engine repairs, and tire sales.

Although a paint specialist is not on the Auto Skills Center staff at this time, a paint booth is available, if a person wants to paint his or her vehicle.

Anna Kyler, finance technician, Marine Corps Community Services, said she takes advantage of the do-it-with-guidance method when she brings her car to the Auto Skills Center. She recently changed the oil in her car and rotated her tires with the assistance of Manning.

“I like understanding the repair work being done and saving money,” Kyler said.  “When I do the work, I gain general knowledge of my car.

“My car takes me everywhere, so I want to make sure I know the basics of what to do when it needs to be repaired,” Kyler added. 

“They are right here next to me to help me and explain everything,” she said.  “Also, it’s a lot cheaper than the prices out in town.” 

The cost of a do-it-yourself oil change is $5.50, while the cost if the shop performs the work is $11. Patrons are responsible for purchasing their own oil and filters, according to Manning.

Lucien Sejour, equipment specialist, Marine Corps Systems Command, chose the do-it-yourself method.

He replaced the engine on a 1997 Toyota Camry he is repairing for his son.

“I have had this car since 1997,” Sejour said. “I feel like it’s a part of my family, so I wanted to do the repairs myself. I guess Marines are a little different about things like this. We are sentimental about certain vehicles.

“It’s great to be able to come in and just work on my car,” Sejour continued. “It’s like therapy for me. I just take everything off and remember what I did, but, if I have any questions, I can ask Mel.”

Others prefer to bring their vehicles in and just let the center’s staff do the repairs, Scoggins said.

“The hands-on approach is not everybody’s cup of tea, and that is ok,” he said. “If it’s not, we can take care of it for you.”

A car is a tool, Scoggins explained.

“If you maintain your tool properly, you will get great service out of it,” he said. “Our shop is here to assist customers with the maintenance.”

Scoggins noted that many of his customers are young Marines away from home for the first time, owning their first vehicles.

“Young Marines come to see me after a mechanic in town tells them they need brake work that will cost about $900,” he said.

“I take them by the hand and teach them how to fix it correctly,” Scoggins added. “It may take longer because they are doing the work instead of a mechanic, but it’s only going to cost them about $100, and they have learned a life skill.”

Scoggins added that unlike other auto repair shops off base, the Auto Skills Center is not a commission- based facility.

“Mechanics out in town get a commission on every sale they make,” he said. This often motivates mechanics to sell you things you may not necessarily need.

“Our shop is not set up that way,” Scoggins continued. “We will tell you everything your car needs, but you can be comfortable knowing we are not trying to sell you things you don’t need.”