By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Colorado’s mountain climate has surprised many a Soldier.
That first morning after the thermometer has dipped down into the teens often provides a shock to some, who’ll turn a key expecting to hear the familiar sound of a running engine, but instead are met with silence… or some rather faint clicking.
Worse yet, some discover their car urgently needs new tires as they slide through icy intersections, while others are forced to drive with impaired vision as they discover their windshield-washer fluid has run dry.
Technicians at Fort Carson’s Auto Skills Center (ASC) have come up with a solution for these pesky car problems and all Soldiers need do is sign up for a class through the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program to learn more.
“We’ve seen excellent participation,” said Christopher Devlin, lead auto tech at the ASC. “We offer the classes once a month and have been rotating between the Winter Auto Readiness and General Maintenance courses.”
BOSS program leaders partnered with ASC staff to offer the automotive classes a few months ago and are more than happy with the results so far.
“We engaged formations and asked them what they would like to see offered as far as life-skills classes, and this was the most requested topic,” said Staff Sgt. Antony Zuniga, BOSS president. “Many Soldiers don’t know what they are doing with their vehicles, and Colorado can present some unique challenges for new Soldiers or those unaccustomed to driving in these types of elements. So, this has been a successful venture that we plan to keep offering.”
During the winter readiness course, Devlin teaches students a number of important skills — how to check tire pressure and tread depth, how to test a battery, how to check and fill a car’s engine oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid, as well as how to check a vehicle’s hoses, belts, transmission fluid and brakes.
“I was not aware there even was an Auto Skills Center here,” said Sgt. Glenn De Dios, who attended the Jan. 27 class. “I think it would be a good idea (for Army leaders) to include information about the auto shop during in-processing briefs.”
The ASC is operated by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. It provides a place for Soldiers, Family members, DOD civilians and retirees to perform maintenance on their vehicles in a modern facility. The ASC also provides a staff of certified mechanics who instruct and help users repair and maintain their vehicles.
“We’ve had several Soldiers take these BOSS classes and turn around and earn their shop card on the same day,” Devlin said. “The BOSS classes are a nice way to introduce people to what they can do here in the shop in a less intimidating way.”
Those interested in using the facility only need to visit the center, take a short safety class and pass a safety test to earn their shop card.
“I think this type of training is incredibly helpful for Soldiers,” said Sgt. Kelsey Simmons. “I don’t know anything about cars so even just a little training is valuable. Our instructor answered a lot of our questions, and the class gives you a chance to get hands-on experience. This is a great life skill to have.”
For more information about auto skills classes, contact the BOSS program at https://carson.armymwr.com/BOSS. For more information about the Fort Carson Auto Skills Center, hours, rules and operations, visit https://carson.armymwr.com/programs/fort-carson-automotive-skills-center.