We all love working on our cars, especially if you’ve got something like a classic BMW in your garage. While it can be a great hobby that saves you a lot of money in the long run, it is important to make sure you’re staying safe while working on your car.
Have Somewhere to Work
The last thing you want is to be laying under your BMW working on something, only to have someone run over your feet because you’re trying to repair your car on the side of the road or in your driveway. Before you loosen your first nut, make sure you have a safe place to work on your car. A garage or carport is ideal, but if that isn’t an option, make sure you block off your driveway to keep people from accidentally running you over or knocking your car off the jack stands.
Invest in Jack Stands
Speaking of jack stands, don’t ever get under your car if it’s just up on a jack. Even putting it up on concrete blocks isn’t enough. If you’re going to work on your car, you need to invest in a good set of jack stands that are rated for your car’s weight. These will keep your vehicle safely off the ground, and off of you, while you’re working. Unless you want your head to look like a watermelon that someone dropped on concrete — which is what will happen if a car falls on it — don’t skimp on your jack stands.
Protect Your Hearing
Engines are loud — especially if you’re under them while they’re running. Whether you’re looking for a leak or are checking your wiring harness, one thing you should definitely protect is your hearing with some earplugs. Inside a passenger car, you don’t hear much of your car’s engine noise because of sound-dampening technology that is worked into the frame, but under the hood, the engine can generate between 70 and 100 decibels of noise. Extended exposure can result in serious hearing damage, so invest in some good earplugs.
Ditch the Butts
Smoking is a nasty habit, but it can be a fatal one if you do it while you’re working on your BMW. It doesn’t take much to ignite gas fumes, turning your car — and possibly your face — into a fireball. If you have to smoke while you’re working on your car, walk away, smoke your cigarette and wait until you’re finished before you head back to work.
Of course, you can try to quit smoking. Even vaping around gasoline fumes isn’t a good idea, because the hot coil that creates your vape cloud could also ignite the fumes.
Wait for Cooldown
For the love of whatever you deem holy, wait until your car cools down before working on it — unless you really want a radiator cap embedded in the ceiling of your garage. Your engine can reach temperatures upwards of 230 degrees, and your cooling system is under pressure until the car cools off. Water only has to be 150 degrees to cause third-degree burns.
In addition to the chance of burns, your car’s radiator fans will keep spinning to help the engine cool down even after you’ve shut it off. If you absolutely have to work on a hot car, take precautions. Kevlar gloves can help protect your skin, and pulling the relay for the radiator fans can keep your fingers attached to your hands.
Don’t let this discourage you from working on your car. Just be safe so you can enjoy this fantastic hobby without ending up in the emergency room.