Working on your car might not be the most dangerous thing you ever do, but there are plenty of ways to get hurt in the midst of your automotive projects. Depending on the order of the day, you’re facing exposure to toxic chemicals, extreme heat, sharp edges and potentially being crushed under the weight of your car, to name just a few things.
Safety is a crucial aspect of playing home mechanic. If you practice good safety, you’ll maximize your chances of coming back for the next project, so here are a few things to keep in mind when you break out the beater T-shirt and the torque wrench.
Wear Eye Protection
Safety glasses are the best, but if you haven’t got them, a cheap pair of sunglasses or the lab goggles you’ve got left over from college will do, too. It’s impossible to know what might break free and fall into your eyes while working beneath your car, but it’s a safe bet you’d be better off without it there.
Respect the Garage Door
Modern technology makes operating your garage door a snap, but in the wrong circumstances, that door can be a weapon. Think about it — it’s a giant, heavy piece of metal poised to crush anything below it, should the electronics fail.
It’s so important to make sure you’ve got an effective, well-maintained garage door system. Once you do, you still shouldn’t take any chances, don’t work beneath the door or station your car so it’s partially out of the garage.
Protect Your Digits
Fingers get into some threatening situations when working on cars. There’s the risk of burns, danger from sparks during electrical jobs, and no shortage of finger-eliminating elements like electrical fans.
Presence of mind will go a long way toward keeping all your fingers attached, but to help with that, you should invest in a good pair of mechanic’s gloves. The added grip on your tools is helpful for making sure you don’t drop them into places where you could … well, lose a finger.
Always Use Jack Stands
This is one of, if not the, most important practices seasoned wrench hands struggle to impress on people. The jack that came with your car is not a secure way of keeping it elevated. You need quality jack stands designed to hold the car level for a long time.
Jacks have mechanisms that can fail, which means the weight of your car is free to crush whatever’s beneath it. You don’t want to be around for that. A solid set of stepped jack stands leaves almost no chance for movement when placed correctly. Get four, and use them on every job that requires lifting your car.
These are just our top suggestions, and you could still get hurt even if you follow every single one. Before you reach for the difficult part or reconnect that ground line, step back and think. Is this a smart move? If you slow down and keep your head in the game, these pointers should get you through most jobs.