U.S. Army Photo by Chuck Roberts
Do-it-yourselfer Tony McLaurin applies a buffer during a headlight restoration repair at the Auto Skills Center at White Sands Missile Range where seasoned mechanics are available and willing to assist novice mechanics with basic auto repair and maintenance.
If your car needs help, the Auto Skills Center at White Sands Missile Range offers two helpful options that can save you time and money.
You can do it yourself under the helpful free guidance of seasoned mechanics at the Auto Skills Center, or you can just bring it in, go to work, and pick it up at the end of the day.
"Primarily we are a hobby shop for people to come in and work on their own cars to learn and save money," said Phil Greene, who has served as manager of the Auto Skills Center for more than 12 years.
One of those do-it-yourselfers is Tony McLaurin, a WSMR security guard who said the Auto Skills Center is the only place he has found offering the tools and expert help he needs in doing his own repairs.
"I love the Auto Skills Center," Greene said during a pause while buffing his car during a headlight restoration repair. "You can't find a place to do this anywhere in Las Cruces."
And if the job at hand exceeds his capabilities, McLaurin said one of the three mechanics on duty will gladly share their mechanical expertise
"If you need help, just ask. They're always willing to help. They'll help you do anything."
But for those less mechanically inclined or who simply don't have time to do it themselves, Greene said they offer routine maintenance such as oil changes, brakes, front end alignment, tune-ups, rotating tires, and electronic diagnosis for some models.
And because mechanics at the Auto Skills Center are MWR government employees, Greene said there is no incentive for creating unnecessary maintenance work for added profit.
"Customers know we are not going to say something's wrong when it's not. We're just telling you because it needs to be done," said Greene, an Army retiree who served at White Sands Missile Range as part of the Lance Missile System and again as a contract employee.
Greene encourages people to compare prices with other maintenance shops in the area, but in end, "you'll find us cheaper and more straightforward."
As with other agencies at WSMR, open hours at the Auto Skills Center have varied with the ebb and flow of the military population. The center is currently open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for providing maintenance service, and from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursdays for the do-it-yourselfers. On the third week of each month, the shop is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Before aspiring mechanics are allowed access to the shop, Greene said they must first obtain a shop card by going online at https://whitesands.armymwr.com/programs/auto-skills and reviewing the standard operating procedures for the do's and don'ts. Greene stressed that the process is not a test and should only take about 10-15 minutes.
But regardless of your mechanicals needs or desires, Greene said he wants to make everyone aware that help is available at the Auto Skills Center located in Building 1430 on Aberdeen Avenue across from the Fire Department, or give them a call 678-5800.
"Folks need to know we are here," Greene said. "Come on by and see us. We can help you with your mechanical needs or help you do it on your own."
And as a related reminder, the Dusty Roads Car Wash, located beside the Auto Skills Center, is open 24-7. The cost is $5 for a basic car wash and $8 for the ultimate wash. The self-serve operation only takes cash, so be sure to bring $1 bills. Credit cards are accepted in the Auto Skills Center during regular business hours.