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How to Perform the Ultimate Garage Makeover

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The Ultimate Garage Makeover - Your Very Own DIY Auto Repair Shop!

In the current economic climate, more and more Americans are holding on to their vehicles for longer than ever before, and they are looking for ways to save money on vehicle maintenance and the inevitable car repair. In fact, a recent study from online repair site AutoMD.com shows that the lingering economic downturn is driving do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) to do even more of their own auto repairs - and they report saving big dollars (one in three DIYers reports saving over $1,000 a year).*

Wouldn't it be nice to do your own car repairs in a conveniently-located, fully-equipped repair shop? One that is personalized for your specific vehicle? If you've ever envisioned your garage to be more than just a storage unit or parking spot, here are some tips on how to revamp it for car repairs, plus a list of must-haves for your very own DIY auto repair shop.

There are three important phases, according to the experts at AutoMD.com, to achieve the ultimate DIY Garage: The first phase is to clean and organize so there is enough space to work. The second is to acquire the necessary tools and equipment to maintain and repair your vehicle. The third is to modify and upgrade the garage to improve the working environment and repair procedures.

Clean and Organize
First things first: Clean, organize, and de-clutter! The ultimate DIY garage should be clean, with ample work space. If your garage is currently your personal storage unit, it's time to clear out those boxes, donate those old clothes/toys, and re-organize your space:
  • Installing racks above the garage door can create extra storage space. Adding hooks or shelves on the wall to hold bikes and other large items can create more floor space.
  • Consider adding storage cabinets to keep chemicals and tools secure, and/or storage bins to keep supplies and hardware organized.
  • A pre-fabricated storage shed is a good addition to get large items like a lawn mower or barbeque out of the garage.
Tools and Equipment
Now that you've cleared your garage, stock it with the necessities: must-have tools and equipment to perform those cost-saving vehicle repairs.
  • Roll-away toolbox - Every DIY auto mechanic needs a good, functional toolbox, and one on wheels is even better. It moves where you move, making your tools accessible whether you're working on the right, left, front, or back of your car. These moving toolboxes come in different sizes (allowing for more tools), and cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Ideally, when placing your tools in the toolbox, keep this old saying in mind - "A place for everything, and everything in its place." You want to avoid a cluttered toolbox so that you can grab tools easily without having to search for them.
  • Workbench - Every DIY garage needs a workbench that provides a solid work surface at a comfortable working height. Many workbenches on the market also include extra drawers and shelves, which allow for additional storage and tool organization.
  • Bench Vise - A workbench is not complete without a 6-inch bench vise mounted solidly on an outer corner. A quality bench vise secures the part you are working on, and can also substitute as a light duty press.
  • Floor Jack and Jack Stands - A floor jack and set of jack stands are mandatory when working under the car or removing tires and wheels. A 3-ton hydraulic floor jack is much safer and easier to use than the bottle or scissor jack.
  • Creeper - Moving underneath your car while working can be difficult, unless you have a creeper. Newer models allow for comfort with adjustable headrests and padded beds. They range in price from $40 - $100.
  • Air Tools and Air Compressor - Every DIY Garage should include quality air tools, and they are definitely worth the investment! An air tool, such as an impact gun, air chuck, air ratchet, and air hammer make it quicker and easier for DIYers to perform automotive repair tasks such as removing wheel lug nuts, inflating tires, and removing hard to reach bolts or stubborn bushings. Of course, none of these tools works without an air compressor. Air compressors come in all shapes, sizes, and specifications. They range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. It is important to buy a compressor that will not be overworked when using your air tools. A good standard air compressor for the DIY Garage is portable, has a 30-gallon capacity, and puts out 11 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Safety Items - A well-stocked First Aid Kit and a carbon monoxide detector are essential to all DIY Garages (and homes for that matter). A kit that is designed for industrial / workshop / construction work use is a great resource for the DIY Garage. Many are OSHA/ANSI compliant, and include bandages, antiseptics, cold packs, burn cream, and more. Another crucial item for the garage is a fire extinguisher. Don't rely on running into the house to grab an extinguisher that is kept inside, keep one on-hand, in an easy-to-reach, designated area of your garage. Try to contain small fires as quickly as possible. On another safety note: small children should stay away from the garage. Finally, remember to carefully research jobs that require you to lift your car, and remove parts, so you know how to correctly perform these repairs avoiding serious injuries. Websites like AutoMD.com offer "How-To Guides" with step-by-step instructions on thousands of repair jobs (the best part is that these "How-To" guides are available on your iPhone at iTunes).
Modify and Upgrade
The ultimate DIY Garage is not only organized and fully equipped with tools, but it should include modifications and upgrades to make working on your car easier and more enjoyable! These modifications can be expensive, but, if money were no object, the ultimate DIY Garage would include:
  • Floor coating/padded floor - Sometimes working on your car requires you to lie on the floor. Floor coating helps keep the floor clean, and a padded floor makes it more comfortable.
  • Fluorescent lighting - A well-lit garage makes for a better and safer workplace.
  • Additional electrical outlets/dedicated circuit protection - Install a 220V outlet for the welder you've always wanted, and prevent circuit overloads by adding more breakers.
  • Heating & Ventilation - Install a heater for the cold winter months, and install fans for the hot summer months. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle engines, NEVER run the engine in a garage (even with the garage door open)!
  • Washroom - Working on cars is dirty job, and if you install a washroom, your significant other will greatly appreciate it.
  • Major Remodeling - Imagine taking your wheels off and performing a brake job on a vehicle lift! If that's your dream, then adding some height to the garage is a must.
*According to the AutoMD.com "2010 DIY Report"
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