Garages were originally designed to simply store vehicles, but today, many people also use their garage as an at-home workstation or a storage space. Here are five professional tips to help you set up your garage workbench and your toolbox for DIY car repairs.
Many garages are cluttered with old appliances, kids’ toys and lawn care equipment. The first step to getting your garage ready for DIY car repair is to make space for a garage workbench, toolbox and, most importantly, your car. You need to free up about four feet around the vehicle to move around comfortably and to lay down in case you need to get underneath the car.
A good garage workbench should have a solid, spacious surface for working and laying out parts for assembly or cleaning. This will prevent you from losing anything important. Some toolboxes come with a workbench top, which means you won’t have to make space for both a workbench and a separate toolbox.
Adequate lighting is essential to any work space. After all, how can you expect to get anything done if you can’t see what you’re working on? Standard fluorescent lighting fixtures are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. You’ll need plenty of light around the car and behind your garage workbench.
A drop light is good for lighting confined spaces, and small LED flashlights or headlamps can be good for getting into even tighter spaces, such as under the dash.
Part of your DIY garage preparation should include collecting some cleaning supplies to keep handy. At the very minimum, you should have a broom and dustpan, mop and bucket with floor soap, plenty of rags and degreaser within easy reach. If you know you’re going to make a mess, cleanup can be easier if you lay down old sheets of cardboard that can be disposed of later. Always take the time to clean as soon as you make a mess, whether it is on the floor, garage workbench or your tools — many car fluids leave nasty stains.
There’s much to be said regarding garage organization, and everyone has their own strategy. Your toolbox should be organized, and there are lots of toolbox organization methods that work.
Cardboard cutouts can be used to separate wrenches and pliers, or you can buy prefabricated organizers like socket trays or wall mounts. The point is to make sure everything is easily accessible. Having to dig through an unorganized box of tools will only cause undue frustration.
Hand tools are usually the weapon of choice when it comes to DIY car repair because they are typically more affordable than power tools. Still, it’s no secret that power tools can make certain jobs go faster, so air tools and cordless appliances are exceptionally useful, whether you are a weekend warrior or professional mechanic. A good place to mount battery chargers is on the wall, where they’ll be out-of-the-way yet easily accessible. Air compressors can be put under a bench, on a rafter or even outside.
With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to converting your plain old garage into a powerhouse of a workspace.
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Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.