It Just Might Work: Garage Mahal

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brian_clareyby Brian Clarey

I’m not one of those guys who spends his weekends under the hood of a car, but I can do some basic maintenance — replacing fluids and bulbs, mostly, but I can change brake pads and spark plugs, too, and I’m betting that there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I could probably manage if I had the tools and the space.

But I don’t. My driveway is on a slope, as is the street in front of it, so I can’t jack up my vehicle to work underneath. I don’t put new oil in my car because I’ve got nowhere to dump the old oil unless you count the creek that runs through my neighborhood.

That’s a joke.

Even my modest tool set can barely handle some of the simple engine work I’ve undertaken. I’ve fantasized more than once about how quickly the right power tool can remove and reattach a tire-and-wheel assembly, and what I might be able to accomplish with a torque wrench.

My idea, which builds upon Jordan Green’s suggestion a couple months ago about a neighborhood toolshare, is to have a well equipped automotive garage with lifts, tools and everything else the wannabe mechanic might need to maintain his ride.

Unlike Green’s initiative, which is more of a communal effort, my garage is designed to make money through memberships, storage-space rental and hourly rates. A smart businessman might want to sell some basic parts like fuel filters, bulbs, wiper blades and fluids, maybe slap a self-service carwash on the side.

A facility like this would appeal to a consumer like me, who wants to save a little money by doing my own basic car repairs, and also to the hardcore gearhead who could, with a long-term membership, conceivably build her own cars there, or drop in a new transmission or whatever.

I could see myself spending a few weekends a year in a place like that, and I bet there’s a bunch of other guys who drive old cars who feel the same way.