It’s a rainy day in Germany, and people are driving down the autobahn to work. Suddenly, a glimmer of light flashes on the dashboard; the check engine light is on. Continuing the drive can be dangerous, but a local towing service fee may not be in the budget.
The 86th Force Support Squadron Ramstein Automotive Recycling Center, located outside the east gate, offers their services, such as salvaging car parts, disposing cars and towing, to all ID cardholders and NATO members.
“Our process saves our customers a step when it comes to disposing of their car,” said Michelle Brown, 86th FSS operations clerk and detail supervisor. “Some cars may require towing, so we offer that service as well. If the car is registered in the customer’s name, they bring it to us or we tow it, we give them the release paperwork, they take it to vehicle registration to have their name taken off, and they’re done. If this was done on the German side, they would have to go through German customs.”
Brown said, the center was created to help prevent car abandonment. They abide by all German laws when disposing of the automobiles, to include draining all fluids before allowing customers to buy the parts.
The recycle center’s prices are comparable to those at off-base establishments. According to Tim Subocz, 86th FSS cashier, buying a car door off base will cost roughly 150 euros. At the Ramstein Automotive Recycle Center, a door runs $15.
“Our main reason for being here is so Airmen have a place to dispose of their vehicles, and in return, we sell car parts for very low fees,” Subocz said. “We receive an average of 70 to 80 cars a month, so we have a lot of parts.”
The center often receives automobiles that are still serviceable and may just need minor work. In these circumstances, the vehicle is placed in their bid lot.
“From the first to 15th of every month, we have between eight and 15 cars in our bid lot on average,” Subocz said. “The minimum is $350. The customer receives a form and we log it in our book. They’re allowed to place two bids on each car. Once the bidding is over, we call the person with the highest offer, and they have 48 hours to come take a look at the car and decide whether or not they want it. If they don’t, we call the next person and so on.”
The recycling center is not only convenient but it also has an impact on other agencies. Squadrons like the fire department, the office of special investigations and explosive ordnance disposal all rely on the center’s assets for training vehicles.
From Nov. 1 to March 31, the recycle center is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. From April 1 to Oct. 31, it is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The recycle center only accepts U.S. dollars or checks.
To contact the 86th FSS Ramstein Automotive Recycling Center, call 0162-619-5261.