I am currently a member of the MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Blogger Program, and this post is part of my involvement. While MetLife has provided me with materials and necessary resources to complete various activities, all statements and sentiment in Baby to Boomer are my own.
There are a few reasons we’re still driving the cars we bought in 1982 and 1995. Partly because we’re frugal – we bought them new and have enjoyed knowing we’re getting our money’s worth out of them, but it’s also due to great DIY car maintenance and a little luck.
Doing your own car maintenance is easier than ever. There are countless online videos, forums, and entire blogs devoted to almost any older model car. All this information and more can be found right in the driveway from your smartphone. But while tech advances have DIY auto maintenance easier, it hasn’t made it any safer. In fact, knowing what safety pitfalls to watch out for can prevent injuries. A DIY job doesn’t save you money if there’s a hospital bill to pay, or worse, a loss of income due to injury.
My husband is a fire captain and to say that he’s safety conscious would be an understatement. His brain works in safe mode from the time he gets up until he goes to bed. As his wife, I can tell you it can be quite annoying, but it’s his job, so he’s hyper-vigilant. I guess his safety-first nature comes from many years of seeing the numerous ways people can hurt themselves while just going about their day.
He’s always puzzled why more people don’t practice safety. Many will ask for his help in preparing for an earthquake, but rarely is he asked for daily safety tips. While most of us here in the Seattle area will experience just one or two earthquakes in our lifetime, it’s the mundane, everyday tasks that cause so many injuries. In fact, in his 32 years in the fire service, he’s seen just about every possible way someone can hurt themselves while working on a vehicle, and some of which he never dreamed possible.
I asked him to look over a list of seven tips for doing DIY car maintenance safely that was provided by MetLife Auto & Home and to add what he thought was important as well. Here are the results:
7 Car DIY Maintenance Safety Tips
To prevent becoming another casualty, check out these tips for doing your car maintenance safely.
- Read the owners’ manual or tech service guide and make sure you understand everything involved in the project you’re planning before you start the job. That includes having the right tools on hand, even if that means borrowing, renting, or buying them.
- Always have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher plus a complete first-aid kit nearby while you’re working on your car. In fact, these should be in the garage at all times.
- Safety goggles are inexpensive and a must to help prevent eye injuries in the event of chemical splashes, errant sparks, or flying debris. You should also wear comfortable clothes, but your clothing should be close fitting to prevent snagging or being pulled into moving parts. Remove all jewelry including rings, watches, and chains and tie up long hair for the same reasons. If you’re be handling fluids or touching hot areas of the car, wear protective gloves and always wear sturdy shoes—sandals or lightweight tennis shoes will not protect you in case of a chemical splash or when you drop a tool.
- If you’re working on your auto in the garage, shop, or any enclosed area (that includes areas with solid fencing), you must make sure your tailpipes are venting outside and unrestricted. Pay attention to any living areas above the space you’re working and be sure the exhaust isn’t leaking into those areas. All floors of the home, closed-off rooms, and the garage should have a life-saving carbon monoxide detector installed. They’re very inexpensive, plug into a standard outlet, and warn if unsafe levels are detected. Just opening the garage door doesn’t guarantee you’re clear – wind, outside temp, and the design of the building can affect how well an area is ventilated.
- Avoid potential mistakes by using adequate lighting for your project. Even during the day, a portable light can help you see things clearer.
- If you’re going to be working under the car, lift it up. First park it on a sturdy, level concrete surface. Use two floor jacks that are rated to support more than the weight of your vehicle and chock blocks to hold it in place. Read the instructions for using the equipment and make sure you’re using it correctly. Never use makeshift materials to work on the undercarriage – you don’t want to risk having the car fall on you.
- Don’t work on a car by yourself. Beyond providing an extra hand to assist you with the project, the primary reason to have a buddy is your safety. A buddy can monitor the jack stands while you’re under the car, help put out a fire, or call for help should you get injured. A buddy can also help make the time go by quicker and while it’s fun to socialize, leave the drinking, smoking, and horseplay to another occasion.
These are some easy ways to work more safely while you’re doing your DIY car maintenance. Perhaps you’ll be able to keep your car on the road as long as my husband has ours. He says he’s not retiring his 1982 truck until he retires from the Fire Department. That means another five years on the road – we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge!
Do you have a suggestion for a car DIY maintenance safety tip? I’d love to pass it on.
Switch and Save Money
Did you know that by purchasing your auto or home insurance through your employer you can save money? MetLife Auto & Home combines affordable policies with features that include a deductible savings benefit for good drivers, enhanced rental car damage coverage, replacement cost for total losses and special parts, multi-policy discount, safe driver discounts and programs, driver education discounts, good student discounts for teen drivers, and more.
Find out more about MetLife Auto & Home and the coverage they offer (collision, comprehensive, and liability) plus ways to save by visiting the MetLife website (current MetLife Auto & Home policy information), MetLife Your Life (safety tips, educational and seasonal information, for home and auto safety needs), or MetLife Auto. Then visit MetLife Instaquote to start saving. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.