How to start an auto repair shop- My dream auto repair workshop layout.
Auto repair shop heaven!
Every auto repair shop owner could give you a list of equipment and machinery that they would love to have in their workshop.
This is my list of the automotive repair shop tools and equipment I would love to have. I would need to start with the building itself first though.
My ideal premises would be large enough to accommodate 4 built in auto lifts/hoists plus a mobile belly lift.
I would also have space for air-conditioner recharging, brake disc and drum machining, welding, fabrication and a small engineering shop with as much space as 2 bays to work from.
The building would have an abundance of windows and transparent roof sections to allow as much natural light as possible over the hoists..
I get right off on good auto shop floors! My floor would be 6" concrete, painted with several coats of non-skid white paint. In fact the whole workshop would be white gloss on the walls, with a white ceiling. Areas where the mechanic stand at a machine to operate it would have rubber high density mats to relieve back and leg stress.
I have had one office in an auto shop built to suit my needs, but things have changed heaps since then. I had my office heavily sound-proofed and an oversized reverse cycle air-conditioner fitted with the noisy bit mounted outside.
With all the online problem solving data available to workshops, the modern office needs to be brimming with new equipment that is much more productive than in the past.
I would have very fast broadband and be connected to several of the excellent online programs that supply instant technical assistance and support.
Even having an internet connection will speed things up and ensure you are not overcharged for spares, show you lists of new suppliers, where to look for a new mechanic, the list is as endless as Google is.
If your mechanic is working on a fuel delivery problem with an early Honda Accord for example, with just a few words typed into the Google search engine you can tell him where the fuel pump is located. It is under the back door on several models and is a known weakness, yet I have known several mechanics who had trouble locating it.
A decent intercom in each work bay is another very useful item. Your mechanics can call for spares, and job progress can be monitored without anyone leaving their post.
I need a few nice additions to a standard repair shop such as a metal lathe and brake lathe.
Ideally I would have 2 metal lathes. The small one would be for machining brake parts and making small items for inventions and modifications to existing parts.
I also want a fairly big one, that will allow me to machine long and thick metal, so that no matter the thickness or length of the job I can still fit it in the lathe.
I would use an older model Hercus for this job, with a long bed, (6ft,) with 3 and 4 jaw chucks, full gearbox, thread cutters and heaps of jobbing bits to suit any situation.
The brake lathe would have to be an ammco with chuck and light truck arbour and tooling.
I would use the Ammco as I have refurbished dozens of them and have concluded that they last almost forever, consumable and spares are reasonably cheap to replace and readily available. They are also dead accurate if tooled up properly and fine tuned, which is how you should run any brake lathe.
I can't help myself. I need wheel balance to be perfect. This is where the sit on balancer comes in.
This baby can find those difficult little balance problems and sort them out once and for all.
You would be surprised how many wheel balancing problems can be solved using one of these neat devices. On car balancers can save time and troubleshoot difficult jobs that are not tire related, such as loose or worn wheel bearings, worn struts and bushes.
They are also ideal for a quick balance check on a vehicle with a vibration coming through the steering when test driven after other repairs, or for a balance check after fitting a wheel with a new tire, and balancing it on a standard balancer.
Air-conditioner recharge station.
A fully automated air conditioner recharge station can make a nice income with very little labor involved.
I know the Ariazone 5001 quite well, and am familiar with the company's service. It is exemplary as is the machine itself. An airconditioner service is a great addition to any workshop, and I would go for a new machine and this is the best of the best.
I find it easier to use an all in one fully automated unit, providing it is not prone to breakdowns.
In a hot climate it is possible to keep two of these machines flat out if you have good floor traffic.
My ideal workshop would be fitted out with all the labor and time saving equipment available.
It would also be safe.
Mounted outside the building or in it's own sound insulated room.
Rotary with EARS manifold.
All air tools to be Ingersoll Rand or equivalent quality.
All tools fitted with E.A.R.S silencing and return.
Here is a link to learn about EARS and what size compressor you will need to run a range of air tools. http://www.earsnorthamerica.com/earsandairtools.html
Suspension spring compressor.
A spring compressor saves a lot of effort and risk of injury and is essential if doing suspension repairs.
Heaps better than man handling heavy wheels and faster too, as you can adjust it so that the wheel is the right height to slip straight on to the wheel studs..
Another device that saves time and risk of injury. Use a heavy duty trans jack to remove heavy 4 wheel drive gearboxes safely.
Folding engine lift.
I prefer a folding type, because it saves so much space and can be unfolded ready to work in a minute. Get a heavy duty one as it can be used for so many other lifting jobs around the repair shop such as relocating heavy equipment. You can also put it on your ute if you have a job that requires loading something heavy for the workshop then unloading it when you get back to your shop.
To do wheel and suspension work once again it is better and easier with the best equipment, Butler and other quality tire changers are well worth paying a premium price for, as they make an otherwise difficult job far less labor intensive. You also need side assist on a tire changer to take care of ally and run-flat wheels.
The Butler shown here is a very nice machine to use and requires very little effort. You can buy many makes of tire changer, but my advice is to stick with the big brand names and the up market models for faster cleaner tire changing.
Apart from oxy-acetylene for cutting and brazing, I like to have an inert gas welder for arc welding. The versatility with these little tigs and migs is phenomenal. You can even weld very thin body metal and weld without causing too much local heat. I have to admit one of the reasons for having a welder that will do fine work is for repairing older cars where a weld can mean saving a body part or even an entire body by stitching it back together when the metal has been ripped apart. This is mainly for my restoration hobbies.
Snap-On make several very good ones. They are much better and cheaper to buy than they used to be.
More by this Author
Troubleshooting the sounds your car suspension makes can save you a small fortune. Before you spend a dime, read this first.
Self knowledge and self worth are vital personal attributes when starting a workshop or auto repair shop. You need to enjoy dealing with people in general. If you enjoy the mechanical work that is great, but if you...
Starting a workshop business or auto repair shop can be very profitable if you get the basics right.