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Gearing Up 101! Auto Hobby Classes Teach Marines Crucial Fundamentals

10 Apr 2014 | Cpl. Uriel Avendano Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius

With summer right around the corner, it would behoove those on the road to put some time and effort into the basics of automobile upkeep and maintenance.

The staff of the auto hobby shop on Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., offers a helping hand to active-duty Marines and sailors through regularly scheduled classes.

“I got an e-mail from my family readiness officer and, after the encouragement of my wife, we decided that this would be a great class to go to together,” said Cpl. London Welch, the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist chief at Marine Air Control Squadron 1 based out of MCAS Yuma.

On March 19, a class was held at the station auto hobby shop on the step-by-step process and importance of an oil change. The class also covered the components, indicators and tools needed to adequately change a vehicle’s oil, as well as overall instruction on the fundamentals of owning a car.

“This was just your basic oil change class, going over the basics,” said Shereen “Mom” Picklo, the shift supervisor at the station auto skills center. “We also break down how to change the oil filter, actually changing the oil, making sure you have the proper filter, proper oil, and the proper quantity. We go over how to check tire pressure, cleaning the air filter and a lot more.”

The 2-hour hands-on class spared no details and allotted time for any questions, small or big, to be brought up. Picklo, affectionately known as “Mom” by regulars and newcomers alike, handed out information packets to all those in attendance and led the class through the course in a fun and knowledgeable way.

“We are a huge family. I love all of my Marines that walk in; I treat you all like my babies,” said Picklo, a native of Corona, Calif. “If you have any questions about anything, please ask. We are all here to be helpful. If you don’t know anything, but you want to come in and say, ‘I want to plug my tire,’ or, ‘How do I put air in my tire, how do I check this, how do I check that?’ We’re all here for you.”

The atmosphere was informal, friendly and conducive to car aficionados of all levels; from beginners to gung-ho enthusiasts. The garage shop became a classroom with a front row view of an engine instead of a chalkboard. Hydraulic lifts also afforded the class an opportunity to check underneath a silverfox 2006 Mazda RX-08.

An assortment of tools were made available to the class in order for all novice mechanics to get a grasp of the topics discussed. Different seasonal preventative measures, part locations, problem indicators, wiring, gauges and liquids were all covered in an effort to instill the crucial aspects of maintenance in everyone.

“I learned how to do an oil change and how to check all of the fluids on the vehicle,” said Keri Welch, a military spouse and native of San Bernardino, Calif. “All of my questions were answered. I asked a lot of questions about my own personal vehicle that weren’t even about an oil change, and every single one of my questions were answered. The staff was very helpful, knowledgeable and I feel that much more comfortable bringing my car down and knowing that I can get all of the help I need.”

Classes have been going on for some time. Attendance, seemingly, has depended on word being passed to Marines.

“I think it’s very important to be able to maintain and take care of your vehicles,” said Cpl. Welch. “Marines need to learn how to be self-sufficient, and how to take care of what they have in order to transition from being teenagers, and young men and women, into full-fledged adults.”

All classes depend on demand. Word must get out, pass and pass again for Marines to have invaluable opportunities like this available at no cost. To better prepare all drivers on the road, and dispense important life skills – get on board and spread the word.

“These classes are very beneficial for my husband and for myself,” added Keri Welch. “Say, if he’s on a deployment, I feel comfortable enough bringing the car in myself now. I’d like to see more classes on, say, how to change the brakes myself or on a variety of different things like that. I’d like them to continue so I can keep coming here and learning.”

For any questions or to find out dates of future classes, please call the staff at the auto hobby shop at (928) 269-2395.

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Marine Corps Air Station Yuma