Maintaining a vehicle isn’t cheap, but at the Canyon Del Oro Auto Club, it’s better than cheap – it’s free.
In its second year of operation under instructor Jeremy Tarbet, the club is comprised of 35 CDO high school students – up 11 members from last year – who meet after school to fine tune their automotive repair skills throughout the year.
The team offers a variety of services, though generally basic. From alignments to oil changes from tire pressure to brake replacement, students receive hands-on training by working on about 75 cars each year, performing all labor free of charge, though donations are accepted. Some vehicles, however, have received more complex repairs, such as a clutch replacement, and even an entire engine rebuild.
“Usually the vehicles we work on belong to students of parents or students, but we are open to the public as well,” said Tarbet. “We really try to work with the community as much as we can. We know how expensive some repairs can be other places.”
The shop features several lifts, along with a high-quality alignment machine that isn’t even available in many local auto shops.
Tarbet, who took auto courses through high school, and who graduated from the University of Arizona, was acting as a substitute teacher at CDO when he began the club.
Now the club has evolved enough through campus promotions to host various events, such as car shows, while also competing in state competitions in Phoenix.
“We had one kid who took second in the region in a skills competition,” said Tarbet. “We also finished 11th-place at state competition. The kids will go station to station and have to fix some problem with each of the vehicles.”
The club also participates in leadership camps throughout the year.
Recently, the club offered free diagnosis for individuals who brought in vehicles with a Check Engine Light on, as well as a free tire pressure check.
Junior Eddie MacMeans is a CDO student who was quick to join the club upon its arrival.
“I’ve been doing this kind of stuff since I was a kid,” said MacMeans. “The program has really come a long way. We took it and made a club out of it.”
Though primarily made up of male members, the Auto Club has begun to appeal to more and more females, according to Tarbet.
“Last year we had one female, and this year we have six,” he said. “The president of our club (Tori Heimink) is a girl. We’re noticing that it is seeming to become more popular with females.”
The club generally meets about once per week after school. The shop is located on CDO High School grounds, in the west parking lot just south of the tennis courts. CDO High School is located at 25 W. Calle Concordia.
Students who are interested in joining should talk to Jeremy Tarbet. There is a $25 fee to join. Students will receive a t-shirt as part of that fee.