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Auto Repair Safety

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Is Working on My Car Really Dangerous?

PLEASE – When working on and around any vehicle, make safety your #1 priority.  Serious and even fatal injuries can and do occur. Seriously, READ THIS SAFETY INFORMATION – It Could Save Your From Serious Injury or Worse!

For the DIY mechanic, working underneath a raised vehicle that is not properly secured presents the greatest risk for serious injury or death.

Working on or around vehicles can be dangerous if you fail to take basic safety precautions.  Fortunately, the most common injuries are not serious or life threatening, but fatal accidents do occur.  For the DIY mechanic, working underneath a raised vehicle that is not properly secured presents the greatest risk for serious injury or death.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Auto mechanics are more likely than the average worker to be injured or killed on the job.  Source:

Most Common Injuries

>Bruises and cuts to the hands, fingers and arms.  These injuries are primarily caused by hands slipping off a wrench (or the wrench slipping off a difficult to remove nut and bolt) and then making hard contact with another part of the vehicle.

>Burns to the hands, fingers and arms.  These injuries are primarily caused by contact with hot parts and equipment.

>Muscle strains.  Overexertion and lifting heavy and cumbersome parts and equipment is the source for back and other muscle strains.  Awkward body positions are also a source of muscle strains.

>Slips and falls.  A variety of different injuries are the result of slips and falls due to oil and other substances being spilled on the floor.  Tools left out is another source for slips and falls.

>Burns to the face and other parts of the body.  These burns are primarily caused by battery explosions, hot engine fluids and scalding hot coolant.

>Eye discomfort and damage.  Dirt and grease getting into the eyes cause discomfort.  Being hit by parts and tools in or near the eye is a source for eye injuries.

>Broken bones.  Falling car parts such as a transmission, engine, subframe, suspension and brake parts can break bones.

>Skin punctures. The slip of a screwdriver, sharp nosed pliers, a drill, etc. can cause punctures to the bands and fingers.

More Serious and Fatal Injuries:

Being struck by a flying or falling part can cause a multitude of serious injuries.  A vehicle falling of a lift, rack or jack can be fatal. But, the good news is that the vast majority of injuries can be avoided – here’s how.

Basic Safety Tips and Precautions

To reduce your chances of being injured, study and adhere to these simple and straightforward safety precautions.  Seriously, just do it!  

ALWAYS… Let someone know you are working on a vehicle, especially if you plan to raise the vehicle and work underneath it. Ask them to check on your occasionally.

ALWAYS… For added safety, place a large rag or towel over the radiator cap before loosening.

ALWAYS… Remove jewelry before working underneath the hood.  Jewelry can bridge electrical connections, which will cause a spark and possible fire.

ALWAYS… Tie back long hair or wear a cap with hair tucked inside when working under the hood with the engine running.

ALWAYS… Keep a fire extinguisher close by.

ALWAYS… Place shifter in “P” Park (or 1st gear if manual transmission), set the emergency brake, and chock/block one of the wheels when working on a vehicle.

ALWAYS… Pull to loosen nuts and bolts when possible.  When pushing, there is a greater risk of injury if the wrench slips.  Routinely check condition of wrenches and sockets.    

ALWAYS… Wear safety glasses when working underneath a raised vehicle.

ALWAYS…  Wear safety glasses when charging, removing or replacing a car battery and when working with the fuel system or air conditioning system.

ALWAYS… Wear safety glasses when using a drill, grinder and other power tools.

ALWAYS…  Clean up oil and other spills immediately.

NEVER… Start the engine in an enclosed area.  Open a garage door or multiple windows for ventilation before starting the engine.  Exhaust fumes can kill you!

NEVER… Work underneath a vehicle that is supported by a jack only. Jack stands must be used or use car ramps.  See how to correctly raise and support a vehicle.

NEVER… Work on a hot engine or brakes.

NEVER…  Loosening or remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

NEVER… Use a grinding wheel that is cracked, grooved or chipped.

NEVER…  Hold or pull on a spark plug wire or any other electrical wiring when the engine is running.  Electrical shock can occur.

NEVER… Wear loose fitting clothing when working under the hood with the engine running.

NEVER…  Stand directly in front of the vehicle when working under the hood with the engine running.  Stand on one side or the other.

NEVER… Smoke when working under the hood or underneath a raised vehicle.

NEVER…  Work underneath a car with the engine running.

Additional Safety Precautions for Transmission/Transaxle Removal and Installation

In addition to other auto repair safety precautions, there are additional safety precautions you need to be aware of that are specific to transmission and transaxle removal and installation.

> A transmission jack should be used when removing and installing an automatic transmission.  A floor jack will work also, but you must be very careful as the transmission can easily fall off a regular floor jack.

> Transmissions and transaxles are both heavy and cumbersome.  Do not attempt to remove a transmission without a helper.

> Regardless of the type of jack you use to lower and raise the transmission, do your best to position the jack so the weight of the transmission is evenly distributed on the jack.  With two people, hold the transmission on the jack while lowering or raising the jack.

> If using a hydraulic floor jack for lowering/raising the transmission, be sure the jack extends high enough to reach the transmission once the vehicle is raised.  If necessary, place a wooden block on the jack (between the jack and transmission) to increase the lift.  When doing this, please note that the wooden block can cause the transmission to become less stable so proceed with extra caution.

> When lowering and raising the transmission/transaxle, keep the rear of the transmission slightly lower than the front so that the torque converter does not slide forward and fall out. The torque converter is heavy – if it falls, you could be injured.

> Be keenly aware of where you place your hands and fingers when removing and installing an automatic transmission.  One slip-up can seriously injure your hand or finger(s).

> Before removing a cross member, an engine mount or transmission mount, or in some cases the sub-frame in order to remove the transmission, you must secure the engine and transmission from falling by the use of a jack from underneath the vehicle or an engine hoist from the top.

> When disconnecting oil cooler lines wear eye protection and do not position yourself directly beneath where the line is being disconnected, as fluid will drain from the line even though you’ve already drained fluid from the oil pan.

Street Smart® Technical and DIY Guides

Reflashing and ReprogrammingWhat is reflashing / reprogramming? What are your options when your vehicle needs reflashed after a new transmission is installed. Typically for 2005- Ford and GM 6-speed, 8-speed, 9-speed and 10-speed vehicles.
Automatic Transmission Repair CostsWhat is a fair price to pay for various transmission repairs? What kinds of repairs does a transmission need?
Automatic Transmission Rebuild CostsDoes your transmission need rebuilt? Fair price guide for the price range of a transmission rebuild.
Remanufactured Transmission Options and CostsConsidering a remanufactured transmission? Here are costs and options for how to purchase.
Get a Free Transmission Estimate by EmailWant an estimate for a remanufactured transmission? Fill out the form here to get an estimate via e-mail.
How to Replace a Transmission Torque Converter Clutch SolenoidWhat is a transmission torque converter clutch solenoid and how to replace one if it goes bad.
How to Replace a Transmission Pressure Control SolenoidWhat is a transmission pressure control solenoid and how to replace one if it goes bad.
How to Replace Transmission SolenoidsGuide to various automatic transmission solenoids, how they work, and DIY instructions.
How to Remove and Install an Automatic Transmission - (RWD)If you are facing a transmission replacement, you can reduce the cost considerably by removing and re-installing the transmission yourself. Here we provide step-by-step instructions for removing and replacing a transmission.
How to Replace a Transmission Speed SensorFor most vehicles, the speed sensor is plugged into the transmission (or transaxle). When the speed sensor fails the speedometer stops working and shifts may become erratic. Replacing a speed sensor is easy.
How to Release a Shifter Lever That is Stuck in ParkNothing is more frustrating than getting into your car and the gear shifter lever being locked in Park. Here we explain how to release the shifter, the causes, how to repair and the estimated cost.
How to Install an Automatic Transmission Oil CoolerInstalling an auxiliary transmission oil cooler can protect your transmission from overheating and failure. Excessive heat can ruin a perfectly good transmission very quickly. Coolers are inexpensive and easy to install.
How to Check the Condition / Level of your Automatic Transmission Fluid and Change Fluid / FilterLearn how to check the condition of transmission fluid, what the different conditions mean and what, if anything, you need to do to keep your transmission running smooth. Learn the correct procedure for checking transmission fluid level. Many people do it wrong, so here is the easy way. Keeping clean fresh fluid in your transmission is the number one thing you can do to protect the transmission from premature failure. These DIY transmission fluid and filter change procedures are easy to follow.
How to Replace a Transmission Neutral Safety SwitchThe neutral safety switch is a safety feature that prevents the engine from starting when the transmission or transaxle is in gear. When the switch fails, the engine may not crank or it may start in gear.
How to Flush Your Automatic TransmissionA transmission fluid flush can be performed without a transmission flush machine - and it's safer for high mileage vehicles.
What is Limp Mode?When a transmission fault is detected by the OBD-II system, the transmission may go into fail-safe (or "limp" mode as it is also called) in order to protect the transmission from internal damage
Transmission Diagnostic Trouble CodesDiagnostic Trouble Codes P0700 through P0799 are transmission related OBD-II codes. Any code within this range point to a transmission related fault..
How to Inspect and Repair CV Axles and CV JointsCV (constant-velocity) axles, (also known as half-shafts), are used in front-wheel drive vehicles to transfer the engine’s power from the transaxle to the two drive wheels.
Auto Repair SafetyWhen working on or around any vehicle injuries can and do occur. Please read these Safety Precautions before starting your next automotive service/repair project.