Story by Ryan Labadens on 01/08/2019The roads for the holiday season are usually more jammed packed with people driving to and from family gatherings across the nation. During this time of year, it's especially important to make certain that vehicles are in tip-top conditions for traveling on the highway. That's why the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Auto Skills Center onboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport is offering free vehicle safety inspections for anyone with base access this upcoming Thursday, Friday and Sunday (Dec. 6, 7 and 9, 2018) by appointment.
John Morillon, MWR Auto Skills Center manager, NCBC Gulfport, said he offers free vehicle safety inspections three times a year: the first weeks of June, November and December.
"That way when everybody hits the road for summer vacation, Thanksgiving or Christmas, we can make sure that their vehicles are good to go so they can get where they're going safely and so they can return home safely," said Morillon.
Morillon said he performs a comprehensive vehicle inspection, checking the suspension, the shocks, tire rods, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, fluids and belts, just to name of few.
Morillon stressed the importance of making sure vehicles are safe to travel, not only during the holiday season but year round. He recalled that in December 2016, he had a family bring their vehicle in for an inspection that was leaving the next morning for West Virginia, and he noticed that they had a tire rod that was on the verge of braking in half.
"Tire rods are part of the steering component, and if they separate, then the wheels are going to do whatever they want to do because they are no longer connected to the steering wheel. So if they separate, then you've got a good chance of getting in an accident," said Morillon, who said the discovery probably saved the family $600 or $700 since they were able to perform the repairs themselves at the Auto Skills Center the next day.
"I actually do the inspection, but this is a self-help shop. So when people come in, they do their own work to their vehicles, but I'm here for technical assistance and to help show them what they need to do and lend a hand if needed," said Morillon.
If the inspection yields an issue, the majority of repairs can be completed on site by the patron at the do-it-yourself Auto Skills Center with Morillon's advisement and oversight. If the repair is major in nature, Morillon can provide outside-the-gate options.
Morillon said that vehicle safety inspections at the Auto Skills Center (Bldg. 397, directly across from the softball fields by the MWR Fitness Center) will take place by appointment from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. this Thursday and Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. this upcoming Sunday. To schedule an appointment, contact the MWR Auto Skills Center at 228-871-2804.