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Duane Dramen, a mechanic at the station?s Auto Service Center, uses a black light to check the Freon lines for leaks after mixing dye in with the Freon, here Aug. 22.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Laura A. Mapes

Auto Service Center: A car's best friend

30 Aug 2007 | Lance Cpl. Laura A. Mapes Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

It’s 112 degrees outside, the sun is pounding on the back of your neck, and sweat drips down your brow as you walk down the street. Think about how miserable you are.

Imagine if you were to switch places with the engine of your car, in a confined space where it’s twice as hot as it is outside.

A quick visit to the station’s Auto Service Center could get you and your car going in the right direction.

The Auto Service Center, also known as the ‘hobby’ shop, offers different services to keep vehicles running.

“We treat sick cars,” said King Wong, Auto Service Center manager.

The hobby shop offers things like tire balance and rotation, engine diagnosis, battery charge and other general services. They also do welding and rent out a welding room.

The services offered by the Auto Service Center are available to all active-duty service members, retirees and Department of Defense employees.

Patrons of the hobby shop also have the option of renting out stalls where they can work on their own cars or trucks.

The Auto Service Center contains 12 service stalls with seven hydraulic lifts, one engine rebuilding room and a welding room that can accommodate vehicles for repair and maintenance needs.

The prices for stall rentals range from $2.50 per hour for a flat stall to $3.50 per hour for a lift stall, and $3 to rent the stall overnight.

With prices as low as that, the auto shop still manages to out do itself by offering different specials and discounts every month.

“We sometimes have a few dollars off an oil change or 10 percent off radiator or air conditioning services,” said Wong. “We do what we can. We have very bottom-line prices. After all, we are here to serve the Marines, and if we are lucky we break even.”

“Once in a while the marketing office will put these specials along with other ads in the (local) newspaper, but mostly we rely on word of mouth to get our business,” said Wong.

Word of mouth is often the greatest form of advertisement, and a way to secure solid business.

“You do good business and people tell their friends,” said Wong. “We have had very loyal customers. I have had customers follow me for over 20 years.”

One of the reasons Wong has had such loyal customers is because of his and his fellow mechanics’ willingness to answer questions and give instruction.

“I am more than willing to help the customers if they need it,” said Duane Dramen, an auto technician at the hobby shop

“If someone has questions about what they are working on while they are renting out a stall, the mechanics are available and willing to help out,” said Wong. “We will give them instruction and show them how to do it. We try not to do it for them, because we want them to learn and build the confidence to do it themselves. We provide you with the knowledge you need that you can take with you and use after you get out or if your car breaks down.”

The open and easy atmosphere at the auto shop ensures that the mechanics as well as the customers are satisfied.

“This is the best environment I have worked in, it’s clean and everyone is willing to help,” said Dramen.

Whether you work on it yourself or let one of the mechanics at the Auto Service Center do it, it’s important to take care of your ‘sick vehicle,’ especially in the summer heat.

“You have to be willing to get your hands dirty, and be willing to learn,” said Wong.

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