As one of the biggest investments most of us will ever make, and something that we rely on each day to be running in perfect shape, our cars deserve a lot more care than we tend to give them.
Although we gladly send them to the mechanics or workshop when something goes horribly wrong, there’s no reason we can’t do general repairs and maintenance for ourselves at home to keep them running their best and increasing their performance over the years.
Whether you’re mechanically minded or have just started learning, being able to do maintenance and repairs on your car is such a valuable skill to have. In order to be able to do it properly and safely, though, there are some pieces of equipment that you just can’t be without.
One of the most important accessories is a car ramp, giving you a whole new view of your car you didn’t have before.
Car ramps are about as simple as they sound, providing you a ramp at an angle that allows you to drive the car up on so that you’re able to look at its undercarriage.
They are reported to be one of the safest ways to elevate your car, and for any home mechanic or car owner, they’re such a simple way to save yourself time and money, as well as build on your automotive repair skills.
Although they might sound simple enough, there’s quite a bit of thought that goes into designing these ramps, all with the ultimate goal of making your life easier. This extensive guide will answer any question you might have about the value of investing in a car ramp and what exactly you can use them for at home.
As easy as it would be to be able to do all of car maintenance and repairs under the hood of your car, the fact is there’s quite a lot that has to happen underneath. For this reason, there have been many inventions over the years that intended to make it easier to lift your car up and give you access underneath, although some haven’t been as popular as others.
When you’re selecting an option that works in a home garage, the clear choice would have to be a car ramp. Although there are some that offer their own benefits, these are usually recommended for professional settings where they can be safely built and monitored.
Here are a few ways which a car ramp stands out from the rest.
With so many benefits you might assume that car ramps can be quite costly, but the opposite is actually true. There are a number of varying factors to decide from including weight capacity and materials that will determine the overall cost and function, so it’s a matter of doing your research.
Once you’ve decided that the car ramp is the only way to go with your vehicle, you’ll then need to make the biggest deciding factor – what material it’s made out of. You might assume that ramps are only made of metal, but there are actually quite a few options with their own pros and cons to consider before you make a final choice.
For anyone trying to make their own car ramps, it’s likely you’ve tried to create a set out of wood before. These are more commonly seen in home DIY jobs because it’s fairly easy to get scrap wood, however, the strength after some time just doesn’t hold up.
Metal car ramps were the very first style to hit the market, and although they proved durable enough, the cost to manufacture them meant that more and more brands moved away from it. The clear advantage that metal has is its strength, as you’d rarely hear about them cracking or breaking, however, this is a material susceptible to corrosion.
As a way to prevent it, some makers have applied coating which helps add some time to its life, but overall they’re not ideal for long-term products.
These are the most common type of car ramps seen today, and although it might not seem like it when you think about this material at first, plastic is extremely durable and strong when it comes to holding up cars.
Plastic has the unique ability to be able to have its surface adjusted so it can be nonslip or traction depending on your needs. However, the cost for a standard set of plastic ramps is well above what you would expect to pay for other materials.
In the world of car tools and equipment, it always seems that someone is trying to find a product and make it better, and that’s what happened when the hydraulic ramp was invented.
These are quite a bit more expensive than a standard ramp and commonly seen in professional garages rather than home ones, as they provide the ability to lift your car even further than a ramp alone could.
A hydraulic ramp is usually made of metal or steel, and once you drive your car up onto the platform you then use the pump to do the lifting. This means you don’t have to physically drive the car up the ramp on your own as the pump will do the work for you, but of course, it comes with some of its own downfalls, too.
Besides being a lot more expensive than a quality set of car ramps, you also remove a lot of the safety factor that people look for when choosing ramps. Because you’re relying on this hydraulic pump controlled ramp to stay up and locked into place, you add a whole other level of safety concerns to it.
Another issue is that some cars might find it hard to actually get enough clearance to drive onto the platform in order to be elevated. Those with lower access like sports cars would be advised not to try this unless they had planks or another ramp to get onto them, seemingly defeating the purpose of how little work they were meant to offer.
Once you have your ramp ready to go at home, you’re probably wondering how to get the best use out of it. Stabilizing your car on the ramp so that it’s safely in place is the most important part of the whole process, so you need to ensure you’re doing it correctly from the very first time. These are the steps to take to use your car ramp:
If at any point during the use of the car ramps you feel that the car isn’t stable or your hear sounds like cracking coming from the ramps, get out immediately from underneath the car and remove it from there. Do a thorough inspection of the ramps every time you intend to use them as even the slightest crack or break can have a huge impact.
Many home mechanics start out with their own homemade car ramps and then upgrade to something more serious, and this is due to how easy it is to create a pair for yourself. Keep in mind, though, that making your own car ramps comes with a whole range of dangers and when you’re underneath a car you don’t want to take any risks that you’re using an inferior product.
Before you get started making the ramps, you’ll need to do measurements of your vehicle and what level of incline you’ll need to make it work. Some low clearance cars will need the angle to be quite minimal in order to get up, so take time measuring.
Next, you’ll have to choose wood that’s going to be tough enough to handle the weight of your vehicle. Look for something like pine for strength and try not to go too cheap.
Make three separate measurements for the width of your tires, the center line of the wheel to the jacking point, and the ground to the underside of the bumper.
Cut the three separate points using a 45 degree cut with your circular saw. Lay the pieces out side by side and see that they go together. Fix the bottom and middle sections together with wood glue, and then fix the top sections to it.
If you want a stop you can use this from an offcut of the wood and simply attach it to the end. Once the pieces have dried you are now ready to give it a go.
Test your car ramps out regularly, especially as wood is known to adjust to different climates. Look for cracks and splinters that could indicate weakened wood and never use a ramp that seems to have damage.
If you make the decision to buy a professionally made ramp, you’ll need to be sure that it’s going to work with your car. Too many car owners purchase a car ramp because it looked good or was low in price and get it home to find that it can’t even get their car off the ground. Here are some things you consider when shopping for the right ramp:
Regardless of the type of vehicle you own or where you like to work on it, there’s nothing more satisfying than taking care of it yourself. Although there are some things that professional mechanics just have to be called for, when it comes to general repairs and maintenance there isn’t much that you can’t do with just a bit of practice and patience.
Having a quality set of car ramps at home is the easiest way to get your car in position to work on it, and with this one accessory, you can do everything from repairs to changing the oil. There’s no need to struggle with dangerous jacks or confusing parts and pieces just to get your car at an angle, and the car ramp has proven that.
As each car is unique and so too is their owner, there’s never going to be just one set of car ramps that works in every situation. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive buying guide that can help you choose the perfect fit for your pride and joy, and hopefully without breaking the bank.
Car ownership is something that should be taken seriously, and when you take the time and effort to work on your car and take care of it, there’s nothing more satisfying. Just a simple set of car ramps can be all you need to begin your home garage journey, so check out our buying guide to see what features are a must-have for you.