Mechanics can be expensive, so working on your car yourself can be a great way to save money. If you’re going to do your own maintenance, though, you have to make sure you are doing so safely. If you’re not careful, you can seriously injure yourself during even routine repairs.
Whether you’re tuning it up in your garage or fixing it on the roadside, you’ll want to know how to work without damaging your vehicle or yourself. Here are some tips to stay safe while working on your car.
Secure Your Car
The first step in any maintenance is making sure your vehicle won’t move while you’re working on it. Being under an improperly secured car can be a fatal mistake, so you should ensure it is held safely in place before you begin.
It’s a good practice to keep wheel chocks on hand to stop your car from rolling. Even with chocks, you should never work while parked on a hill. Only work on a flat, even surface.
Your vehicle should come with a jack you can use to elevate it, but you should never use it for anything more than changing a tire. If you need to get under your vehicle, use axle stands or car ramps instead of a jack.
Use the Right Gear
No matter how careful you are, you should always use protective gear. At the very least, you should wear safety glasses and avoid loose clothing. Your eyes are delicate and vulnerable, and loose clothing can get caught in moving parts.
In cold conditions, you should use workwear designed for the weather, including jackets and warm work pants. Without proper protection, the cold can be harmful, even if you’re only in it for a short amount of time.
You should also consider using gloves to protect your hands. Many components of your car will be hot, so burn sleeves may be a worthwhile investment as well.
Keep Track of Your Tools
It can be tempting to set your tools on the nearest available surface, but putting them in the wrong place can have disastrous results. For example, a metal tool on your battery can create a spark, which could lead to an explosion.
If you’re not keeping track of where you’ve put your tools, you may accidentally knock them over, causing them to get stuck in the engine. Keep your equipment on the ground and in one place.
Never run your engine in an enclosed space. Improper ventilation can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills more than 400 Americans each year and hospitalizes more than 4,000.
It’s best not to run your car inside your garage, but if you do, always keep the door open and the exhaust facing the outside. Test your door ahead of time and get it fixed or replaced if it’s damaged. You don’t want a faulty garage door to fall on your car, or on you.
You should also make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area if you’re using paint or other chemicals.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby
Hopefully, you always practice safe behaviors when working on your car, so fires are never an issue. Even if this is the case, you should have a fire extinguisher nearby. There are a lot of flammable materials in your car, so fires can quickly grow out of control.
Keeping an extinguisher in your car or workplace can save your life should a fire break out. You should take steps to stop them from ever happening, but you should also prepare for the worst.
Fixing your car on your own can save you a lot of money. Just make sure you are thoroughly prepared and work carefully.