Working on a car on a drive at home

So, you've decided to tackle some basic maintenance jobs on your car, thanks to some help from your Haynes Manual and AutoFix, but where do you actually carry out the work?

You're primarily carrying out your own servicing and repairs because you enjoy doing it and you want to save money, so you don't want to have to do the work somewhere that's going to result in you having to pay to use it.

So where are the best free places to service and maintain your car?

Fix your car at home

If you're lucky enough to have a large enough garage then that's the obvious place – but always make sure you have your phone to hand in case of any emergencies – and always be very cautious when dealing with flammable liquids/gases and enclosed spaces.

If you have a driveway, then, as long as it's level and firm (never jack your car up on uneven ground such as gravel or grass), it's ideal. You also should never jack the car up on gravel – plus locating dropped bolts in gravel quickly becomes boring!

Make sure you make provisions for catching spilled fluids, because oils and coolant can damage some surfaces. 

If you have a rented property or park your car in a shared car park check that they allow working on cars. Many don't and the last thing you want is angry residents complaining about you. Not everyone is understanding when it comes to DIY car maintenance. 

Fixing a car on the road

Fix your car at the side of the road

Within the confines of the law, you are perfectly entitled to work on your car at the side of the road providing it's not as a business, not for financial gain and as long as it doesn't cause annoyance to people in the vicinity.

So provided you respect your neighbours and don't work for hours on end you'll be fine. It goes without saying that working on the side of a busy main road is never advisable.

Some people use public car parks – but again, this is not a wise idea because unless you're doing the work at a quiet time of the day or night, you're going to get in the way of others – and you're likely to need to use more than the area one parking space gives you. You'll also have to pay to park there.

It's also worth taking into consideration that you don't want to leave an immobile vehicle on the side of the road if you find you've overstepped your abilities and need the help of a professional. 

So never attempt a project unless you're certain you know what you're doing. 

Pay to fix your car yourself

Okay, this one isn't free, but you can seek out the services of a 'ramp for hire' company. They're becoming increasingly popular and are springing up around the country. They can easily be Googled to see if there's one in your area.

They allow you to hire a ramp (a two or four-post lift that safely elevates the car) for an hourly rate. Many also rent out a selection of useful tools.

Be aware that as you're charged for the time you spend there, it can end up being quite costly if you need to work on the car over the course of several days.

But factor in the fact that using a lift makes working under the car much quicker, not to mention safer.