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Wrenching and Jacking up Your Car: Safety Tips


As rewarding (and sometimes frustrating) as working on your car can be, it's important to remember that every time you step into your garage you're dealing with thousands of pounds of steel and other dangerous components; particularly so if you have to lift your car to get access to the underbody or wheel wells.

The good news is so long as you are smart about safety protocols, most injuries are easily preventable. Here’s an overview of some of the most important safety tips for you to keep in mind for your next wrenching session in your garage.

67 XT Race Ramps
Chevy Camaro up on 67" XT Race Ramps

Use a jack stand or Race Ramps for safe elevation

Never underestimate the importance of safe lift. If you need to raise your vehicle up to rotate the tires, install a spare, or do brake or suspension work, jack stands are essential because they are rated to hold the weight of the vehicle over extended periods of time. Car jacks are only appropriate for getting your vehicle up onto your jack stand, because the longer the vehicle rests solely on the jacks, the more likely the chance of jack failure and a couple of tons of metal dropping straight down.

Fortunately, jack stands are not expensive. You can easily find a pair rated for your vehicle. Never use concrete blocks; while strong enough to hold up a house, they work best when weight is evenly distributed across the entire surface, which is exactly what doesn't happen when a car rests of them.

For projects that don't require relaxed suspension or removing wheels, using a pair of Race Ramps gives you the elevation you need without the worry of jack stand failure. Our Garage and Service ramps are specifically built for quick and easy underbody access - great for oil changes, exhaust repair and similar projects.

Car on lift stand ready for brake work
Car on lift stand ready for brake work

Only work on pavement

The only place you should ever jack up a car is on a paved surface, and that paved surface should be concrete, not asphalt. Jack stands could potentially cut right through some types of asphalt surfaces, especially on hot days when it starts to soften.

Never attempt to jack up a car on gravel, dirt or grass. Only work on poured concrete that is fully cured and hardened.

Glove and eye protection
Eye and hand protection are very important accessories when wrenching

Personal protective equipment

With certain types of jobs, it’s very important to wear eye and/or hand protection. Any time you’re going to be reaching in to tight areas or dealing with potentially sharp pieces of metal or parts, it’s a good idea to wear gloves. In addition, when working upside down, you never know if something could drop into your face, be it a part or a liquid, so it’s important to wear eye protection to prevent any accidents from occurring.

For other types of jobs, it can also be beneficial to wear a protective mask. This is especially true if you’re working on brake pads, which can get a lot of dust built up on them, or if you’re going to be using any compressed air that could blow debris around. Masks prevent you from breathing in a lot of the dust and contaminants you might encounter, which will prevent any potential respiratory complications.

Don’t just trust the parking brake

If you’re working underneath a vehicle, you need to put more safeguards in place than just the parking brake to prevent the vehicle from moving and potentially running you over. This is where wheel cribs and chocks come in.

You can find a wide variety of cribs and chocks designed to keep your vehicle in place while you work. A failure to chock your wheels could result in a catastrophic accident. Even if you’re not under the vehicle when it rolls away, your vehicle could run into other items in your garage, or out of your garage, down your driveway and into the street. The best-case scenario is that this results in an embarrassing situation for you. The worst-case scenario is that it could become a deadly mistake.

Work while the vehicle is cool

Never work on your car, either under the hood or underneath the body, while it’s still hot. You could severely burn yourself if you attempt to do so. Give your vehicle plenty of time to cool off after the most recent usage and only start working when the parts on which you need to work are cool to the touch.

Safety should always be a top priority when working on your vehicle, so before you get wrenching, make sure you’ve got all the safety equipment you need for your task.

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