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Top Equipment Needs For Opening an Auto Repair Shop

The liberty of running a business is a dream many pursue. Freedom to establish your own schedule, manage a work/ life balance, set your own salary, and choose the people you work with are just a few benefits.

For many mechanics who have completed training or have a few years of experience under their belts, the prospect of opening an auto shop is enticing – and it is an attainable goal. However, it must be done right. Nearly 30% of small businesses fail in the first two years (often due to avoidable causes).

Choosing the right equipment is a crucial component of auto shop success. Below, we explore the top equipment needs for opening an auto shop – from brake lathes to automotive lifts.

1. Air Compressor

Air compressors are pneumatic systems that convert power into pressurized (compressed) air. An air compressor is necessary to operate many other essential tools around the shop, so choosing a reliable, powerful air compressor is important. For example, some auto lifts require an air compressor, as do most of your hand tools. 

When shopping for this piece of equipment, don’t cut corners. Purchase the best system you can afford. For many auto shops, a 60 or 120-gallon compressor is sufficient.

2. A/C Machine

An A/C machine will allow you to service A/C units. The demand for this service is especially prevalent in warmer months. Look for a system that will recover, recycle, and recharge air conditioning systems. Of course, skip this purchase if you don’t plan to offer A/C servicing.

3. Jacks and Jack Stands

Jacks and jack stands are used to temporarily lift a vehicle off the ground to complete repairs. In many auto repair shops, floor jacks are regularly utilized. Like your air compressor, this purchase is one of the most important. We recommend buying a high-quality, highly-recommended jack system that can accommodate vehicles of various sizes.

4. Digital Vehicle Inspection Technology

Though not absolutely necessary, purchasing a system that can run a thorough diagnostic on a customers’ vehicle will give your auto shop an automatic edge among your competition. The tool is helpful for your technicians and can assist in customer relations. A straightforward inspection report can help explain why a certain repair is needed.

5. Oil Drain/ Oil Caddy

Changing oil or transmission fluid – among the most common auto shop services – requires an oil caddy. Oil caddies are available in a variety of fluid volume capacities. To choose the best option for your shop, determine the largest fluid volume you anticipate handling. For example, do you plan to work on RVs or SUVs? Purchase a caddy to meet this capacity.

To increase efficiency, consider buying a standing oil caddy. A standing caddy can be utilized when a vehicle is on a lift, allowing you to complete additional repairs while the oil is draining. Though a standing caddy is not a must-have, it certainly optimizes oil and transmission fluid changes.

6. Oxygen-Acetylene Torch

If you service an area with a lot of environmental moisture, you can expect customers to come in with rusty vehicles. An oxygen-acetylene torch is used to fix rust issues efficiently. In drier areas, this piece of equipment is not vital.

7. Press

A press has a dozen uses in the auto shop. Made to deform workpieces under high pressure, a shop press is often used to press parts together, such as fitting bearings into housings. Presses can be purchased with between 1 and 30 tons of pressure. For an auto shop, a 30-ton press is ideal.

8. Brake Lathe

As the name implies, brake lathes are designed to effectively and efficiently service brakes. Another one of the most common reasons a customer may come to your auto shop, purchasing a high-quality brake lathe is important.

Additionally, identifying a trusted brake lathe parts provider will eliminate wasted downtime in the event that your lathe fails.

9. Strut Compressor

Strut compressors make strut replacements fast and profitable. Because every vehicle needs new struts around 70,000 miles, offering the service can be lucrative. Purchase a strut compressor that can handle the variety of vehicles you plan to service – the investment is well worth the return.

10. Engine Hoist

For efficient engine repairs, rebuilds, or replacements, an engine hoist is essential. This piece of equipment will be used frequently.

11. Battery Charger/ Jump Box

Once again, your battery charger will be one of the most-used items in your shop. Vehicles need to be jumped constantly. We recommend purchasing a high-quality, name brand battery charger – the best you can afford. With the frequency of use, purchasing a cheap battery charger or jump box is ultimately a waste of money and will have to be frequently replaced.

12. Vehicle Lift

Last but certainly not least, the vehicle lift is one of the most critical pieces of equipment found in an efficient, profitable auto repair shop. Depending on the vehicles you plan to service, you may need a light lift, a small equipment maintenance lift, a heavy-duty truck lift, or a combination of these options.

With a variety of lifts to choose from, it is invaluable to read a guide to car lift types to determine which is best for your shop. This purchase is one of the most rewarding.

With each piece of equipment bought and installed in your space, you are on your way to launching a successful auto shop repair business.

SVI: Trusted, American-Made Vehicle Lifts

At SVI International, we are the lift industry’s leading supplier of parts, known for our high-quality, American-made products. With over 40,000 products, we serve as a one-stop-shop for equipment parts, lifting equipment, RELS brake lathes, and much more.

We are trusted by auto shop owners across the country – and we would love to talk to you about how we can help meet your auto shop equipment needs. To get in touch with a team member, give us a call at (800) 321-8173 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to speaking with you!

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