Doing it themselves at the Auto Skills Center

FMWR facility offers opportunities for hands-on learning and wealth of services

It may not be the easiest facility to find in Wiesbaden, but that doesn’t stop some 30-40 customers a day from making their way to Clay Kaserne’s North Side to use the services of the Auto Skills Center.

Patrons are advised to call in advance to see if any bays are available before driving to the Auto Skills Center.The Automotive Skills Center’s Johnny Brumsey (right) helps Earl Brake swap out his headlight bulbs.Richard Babcock, Auto Skills Center director, welds an exhaust and muffler on a Chevy pickup at the facility.A four-bay, do-it-yourself car wash is also available for use by community members for a small fee.Maj. Chris Hormann changes his oil at the Automotive Skills Center, located on Clay Kaserne’s North Side.The Auto Skills’ “Big John” Cobb (right)  assists Sgt. Jedhel Somera with mounting and balancing his new tires.

“This is my first time using Auto Skills and it will not be my last time,” said Earl Brake, who was hard at work on his Chevy sedan with expert assistance from the Auto Skills Center’s Johnny Brumsey.

As Brumsey finished swapping out headlight bulbs to complete the day’s work of tire rotation, oil change and lighting inspection, Brake praised the dedicated support available. “They’re a very quick and knowledgeable staff. I would definitely recommend this facility to others. On a scale of one to 10, I’d give them a 20.

“I didn’t even have an appointment,” he added.

As the center’s “Big John” Cobb helped American Forces Network Wiesbaden’s Sgt. Jedhel Somera balance his wheels, Somera talked about why he frequents the Wiesbaden military community Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility.

“The (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) Car Care Center is cool, but here you get to work on your car and save a little money,” said Somera, adding, “If I need to learn something I usually go on YouTube. And if I can’t figure something out I just ask the guys here — they’re usually not too busy to help.”

“I do all of my oil changes here, and it’s a lot cheaper (than taking the car to a dealer),” said U.S. Army Europe’s Chris Hormann, who was busy underneath his vehicle performing an oil change. “Everyone here is very helpful and friendly.

“Even if you don’t know what to do, these guys can walk you through the process,” Hormann said. “Don’t be afraid to come here if you don’t know what you’re doing — they’ll walk you right through it.”

Hormann, who said that he originally “kind of avoided” learning about cars, despite his father and brother-in-law being mechanics, grew up around car repairs and encouraged anyone interested to simply take the first step by visiting the Auto Skills Center. “It’s just a matter of coming in and giving it a try.”

He also pointed out that working on one’s own vehicle can prove a major money saver. “If I had changed out my alternator on the economy it would have cost me $600. Here, with the staff’s help, it only cost me $200,” Hormann said.

Besides offering community members a state-of-the-art facility in which to work on their own vehicles and Automotive Skills Excellence certified staff, Wiesbaden’s Auto Skills Center offers a range of services and programs from general vehicle repairs to computer diagnostics, alignments, air conditioning service, oil changes to vehicle storage and towing.

“You’ve got your people who come here and know what they’re doing, and we have customers who come in for the full service,” said Richard Babcock, Auto Skills Center director.

“For those people who want us to work on their vehicles, we generally ask them to drop them off in the morning and in most cases we’ll have it done by the end of the day,” he said. “And for those who want to work on their own cars, while we can’t offer appointments, people can come in up to one week before and pay to reserve a spot.”

The Auto Skills Center director advised owners not to put off checking their vehicles when preparing for an upcoming car inspection and registration renewal. “Don’t wait until the last minute for an inspection. Go through the process and get it inspected and come in to Auto Skills to make any repairs. Remember, you need to bring your own parts,” he said.

“If people have any questions about identifying which parts or supplies to buy, we can help them,” Babcock added.

Auto Skills is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and training holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and all U.S. holidays.

Customers can call civ (0611) 705-6679 to see if bay space is available.

To drive to the Auto Skills Center, proceed to Clay Kaserne’s North Gate, via Erbenheim (the address for GPSs is Rennbahnstrasse 12, 65205 Wiesbaden-Erbenheim). When you have reached Rennbahn Strasse 12, keep driving straight about 300 meters until you reach the gate guards. Signs are posted after you enter post. To view a map on the garrison’s home page visit

Tokens for the four bay do-it-yourself car wash are $1 each. The token machine accepts $1, $5 and $10 bills. If you need change, you can stop by the Auto Skills Center and the staff will help you out.

“If you’re washing your car, your best bet is to dry it before driving it off post,” advised Babcock, saying that leaving while still wet may result in a dirty car due to the dust on the north side with construction in progress.

He added that plans are in the works for a drive-through car wash at the facility sometime in the future.

Looking for a used vehicle?

The Automotive Skills Center also offers used vehicles for sale at a bid lot located on Mississippi Strasse, between the Hainerberg Chapel and Wiesbaden Army Lodge. Stop by to see what’s currently being offered.