News: Save money by going to Sprocket
Story by Sgt. Samuel Northrup
FORT HOOD, Texas – The sounds of pneumatic wrenches and hydraulic lifts could be heard throughout the bays. One person was replacing brake pads; another was working on an exhaust pipe. This was Sprocket Auto Crafts Center at Fort Hood, Texas, a place soldiers can gather to work on their cars for a small fee.
The Sprocket Auto Crafts Center has 26 bays for the do-it-yourself auto technician. Patrons can do their own car work such as oil changes, brake maintenance, engine repair, tire work, air conditioner service and electronic diagnostic testing to analyze engine problems. Assistance and instruction is available for the less experienced technician.
“If you never worked on your brakes before, I will teach you from start to finish how to inspect them and help you order the right parts if needed,” said John Justis, a Recreational Assistant with Sprocket Auto Crafts. “You can spend $700 on a brake job downtown or spend less than $100 to do it yourself and learn something about your car in the process.”
Sgt. Gary Jimenez, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, usually does minor maintenance on his car and today he got helpful instruction on proper brake pad replacement.
“The customer service is great,” said Jimenez. “Everybody here is adamant about working with and helping the Soldiers if we have any questions. The staff really motivates the Soldiers to work on their vehicles.”
Soldiers conduct maintenance on vehicles and equipment in the Army, said Jimenez, a native of Arlington, Va. Conducting maintenance on your own personal vehicle is an extension of what you do in the Army and soldiers should take it up if they can.
Sgt. Allen Harris enjoys his job as an artillery mechanic with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, and decided it would be easy to transfer some of his skills over to personally owned vehicles.
“I like getting my hands dirty; that is what drew me into becoming a mechanic,” said Harris. “Taking machines apart and learning the details fascinates me.”
Justis, a Long Beach, Calif., native, has roots with shops such as Sprocket when he was in the Army. He began working on his own vehicles in 1985 when he was stationed in Germany as an Army cavalry scout.
“I was breaking things on my pickup truck all the time,” said Justis. “I was paying a fortune to have the shops fix the truck in Germany. Eventually I started getting parts for my truck and figured out how to save money by repairing it myself. I did my very first engine swap in the auto crafts shop using a Chiltons manual.
Justis encourages family members to use the auto craft centers such as Sprocket to save money. He does this by sharing his knowledge of car care with local community as he goes out to teach classes at the community centers of Fort Hood.
“Typically spouses of deployed soldiers will come out and I will teach them basic maintenance such as how to change a flat tire, and how to help each other check out lights on cars,” said Justis. “They can also tie a maintenance focus into Family Readiness Group meetings.”
“I am trying to think how to improve upon on what was here when I was in,” Justis said. “That is why I spend my free time going out to talk to communities, going around pushing the program. Let me help you help you. Try saving money. Nobody gets paid enough to just throw money away. If you can fix your car for just a fraction of the cost, it just makes sense.”
For more information about the Sprocket Auto Crafts center, please call 254-287-2725 or visit http://hoodmwr.com/sprocket.htm