JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
People who don't want to rely on public transportation might visit a used-car lot in search of a diamond in the rough.
Owning a car can be financially exhausting, and if a person's gem turns out to be a lemon, shop fees can leave them in financial ruin.
Fortunately, the Automotive Skills Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson can alleviate the financial burden of car repair while promoting self-reliance.
"Last week, I put a different transmission in my truck," said Tony Johnson, a retired Air Force C-130 crew chief. "I think I spent around $1,200 here. At a shop in town it would have cost me upwards of $3,000."
The potential savings are substantial.
"There's a customer who came here to fix his radiator," said Quirt Peluso, ASC automotive worker. "We helped him with that and in the end he paid a few hundred dollars for the parts. He was quoted $2,000 at a local shop."
After paying $5 per hour for a flat bay or $7.50 per hour to use a lift, patrons are afforded access to all the tools the shop has to offer, said Pat Clare, ASC automotive mechanic.
The staff of automotive repair technicians can provide a substantial amount of car repair and maintenance knowledge.
"We can help with brakes, oil changes, tire rotations, clutch work - we can pull engines out and help customers put them back together," Clare said. "We can help with just about anything."
The ASC is more than just a place to save money; each maintenance job or fix can be a potential learning opportunity.
The ASC staff don't fix the vehicles that come into the shop, said Bob Burek, one of the ASC shop leads. Instead they use their knowledge of car repair to assist customers, which makes customers self-reliant.
"Even if somebody doesn't have something to work on, they can come down and look around or ask questions," Peluso said. "If they have a project down the road they can prepare for it and see if it benefits them to come in."
The ASC won the JBER January 2016 Interactive Customer Evaluation customer service award - a testament to their commitment to their work and customers.
"It's a good bunch of guys here," Johnson said. "They come by and check up on you constantly to make sure everything is going okay. If you run into a problem there's someone here that knows how to help. And if they don't know the answer, they know where to find it."
There's peace of mind in knowing the work that went into the vehicle repair was done first hand, said Senior Airman Brian Sanchez, a 732d Air Mobility Squadron aircraft services specialist.
"I studied automotives before joining the Air Force," he said. "This place allows me to pick up where I left off."
As winter comes to an end, the staff at the ASC expect an influx of patrons looking to change from winter to summer tires.
People can rest assured the ASC will be open, assisting customers with their car-repair needs.