A lot of us are “Jack’s of all trades”. So, chances are we are working on our car or a friend’s car at some point in our lives. If we know our way around a car, chances are that we have a good arsenal of tools at our disposal to get the job done. But, there is always one more tool we can get. We recently talked to our customers who are both hobby mechanics and professional mechanics about what are the best tools and tips to have at your disposal in your own shop. Below are the most common answers we received.
Air Compressor – An air compressor will save you a lot of time and elbow grease. Whether you are doing a simple tire rotation or brake job to a complete car restoration an air compressor will help you get the job done more efficiently. There are numerous pneumatic tools that an air compressor will run to help you complete your task. Some examples are an impact wrench, grinder, paint sprayer, and a sander.
When looking at air compressors make sure you purchase one with enough volume to sustain your needs. You don’t want to have your compressor constantly cycling or have to wait for enough air pressure to rebuild to complete your job. Hose management is also a key factor when using an air compressor so you do not have hoses running all over your shop creating a tripping hazard. This can be as simple as a retractable hose wheel to plumbing air lines with different connection points throughout your shop.
Lift – While a floor jack, jack stands, and a creeper are a good way to get under a car, it is not the most comfortable way of doing it especially if it is a large task. Having a lift in your shop with save you lots of pain and time. While this can be a sizeable investment for some there are lots of solutions out there for the different style lifts to best fit your needs.
For example, there are motorcycle lifts, two post lifts, and four post lifts just to name a few. It is best to look at all the options available and what their primary purposes are to see which style works best for your shop. Having a lift will help save you some pain and allow you to utilize your vertical space in your shop.
Jack Stands – Jack stands are a very important tool to have at your disposal whether it is for storing a car for an extended period of time to prevent flat spots on your tires or for adding in the additional safety measure when you have your car elevated with a floor jack in the case of failure. Jack stands are fairly inexpensive, easy to store, and quick to set up when needed. One important thing to remember when using the jack stands is where to place them under your car. Always make sure they are on a solid frame structure of
Jack stands are fairly inexpensive, easy to store, and quick to set up when needed. One important thing to remember when using the jack stands is where to place them under your car. Always make sure they are on a solid frame structure of the vehicle’s body.
Lights – Having good lighting is key. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a task with dim lights or a poor lighting set up that is causing shadows to be cast over your work surface. Hanging lights at multiple points on your ceiling as well as lights pointing in multiple directions will help prevent shadows. It is also beneficial to have a retractable wand light in your shop as well.
These are portable lights that you can take with you when you are working under the car or in a tight spot under the hood. It is worth the investment to go with one on a retractable cord with a magnet and hook for multiple mounting options so you don’t have to hold it or prop it up against something to hold the light.
Music – While this is not a hand-held tool, this is something that came highly recommended from fellow mechanics. Most tasks involving cars are a couple hour job. Time can really drag on if you are working in a dead quiet shop. Having music or even talk radio can help pass the time and make the time in the shop less boring (although work on a hobby isn’t supposed to be boring).
Some enthusiasts go as far as making different playlists for the different tasks they are doing. They’ll have one playlist for doing body work and a different one for doing engine work. Your music set up could be as simple as a portable speaker to a complete sound system wired throughout your whole shop.
Following these tips can make your time spent in your shop more enjoyable. Always do the research on any products that you are buying to make sure you are getting the right one for your application. Once that product is decided on, make sure you follow the manufactures recommendations on product use. Using these tips can help make your American Dream a reality and a better one at that!
For more information on American Rotary and how you can get high-quality power for all of your three phase power machines, see our Industrial & Automotive applications page.