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Are there places that let you rent a lift for an hour or two?

I use jack stands for my repairs but would like to know if such places exist, a place where you can drive your car and put it on a lift so you can work underneath more easily. I understand the insurance risk would have to be built into the hourly price and I am sure there would be some kind of waivers needed to be signed. Yes if you have a friend who is a mechanic and has access to a garage that is great, but for those who don’t, does such a place exist ? I’m in the NYC / NJ area and have no problem traveling a reasonable distance.

Those kind of places went away quite sometime ago because it was a lousy business model. The brothers who had the Cartalk show even tried it for a short time.
The big problem was that people would get in over their head and have a lift tied up and the shop owner either had to finish the job or take legal action to get the vehicle removed.

I have seen articles and advertisements of places like this that opened but they never last long. Military bases often have hobby shops with lifts, hoists and the heavy tools if you know someone serving who can get you in.

As for the commercial places, if the insurance doesn’t get them, I’d guess people leaving their projects on the hoists for long periods probably does. These kinds of places don’t appeal to folks with money. They appeal to the lower economic strata. People without garages and spare cars. The type that starts a task and realizes once the car is apart its more expensive than they can afford to repair right now… so there the car sits,on the hoist, with no solution in sight. Pretty tough for the owner of such a place to deal with on a constant basis.

Google search for a local business that does this. You may get lucky.

Yeah not only the insurance issue but think about it. By the time you get done paying the true cost of renting the bay and the overhead that goes with it, its cheaper to pay someone to actually do the work. They will be much more efficient. My BIL has a nice big retirement shop building and he bought a Northern Tool lift for a couple thousand. Said he put a second one in now. So maybe find a friend that has one.

Interesting question.
Tom & Ray, the founders of our feast, started with exactly that model. They quickly found that they needed to have a mechanic there because so many vehicles got on the lifts, some parts were removed, and the vehicle owners found themselves in over their heads. The vehicles would probably still be on the lifts today had T&R not hired a mechanic.

They then found that to pay the mechanic(s), and make the needed-equipment investment, they needed to take in repair work. The business model forced the shop to morph into a regular garage.

I too would like such a facility. Oh, the trouble I could get into! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I work too slow to rent a lift by the hour.

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I used to work at a trucking company where I had access to the shop for about 7 hours a night (on my own time) I can tell you that it is easier to change an engine with a big fork lift than a cherry picker.

There might be car clubs near you that have a fully featured garage for their members to use. Check the web for car clubs near you and see if anyone has benefits like this. If you find any, let us know.

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Thanks everyone for the input, I appreciate the advice and ideas.

I actually found two places in other states that actually do this, rent a lift and even tools for hourly rates. One in Virginia, one in Florida. The one in Florida was $25 per hour which is not bad at all IMO.

The folks in Virginia are looking to expand as a franchise and they replied back to me with info, so hey you never know. They say they are doing well in Virginia

If your local high school or community college offers auto shop classes, sometimes they’ll allow people to use the facilities during the evening. Usually it is part of taking an adult community night school class on auto repair. But not always. Ask around at the local high schools and community colleges, worse they can say is no. Here in the San Jose area, I don’t think the high schools offer auto shop these days, but the community colleges do.

Of course if you offer up enough money, you local auto repair shop will be happy to sell you some time on their lift too. “Enough money” is the key phrase here. Pretty much anything can be purchased for a price.

No offense, but I doubt that very much

Liability would be the reason to refuse such a request

Were I a shop owner, no amount of money could persuade me otherwise

Boy, I can hear the insurance and accident lawyers filing briefs already.


No matter how many waivers the customer signs, no matter how much money changes hands . . .

If that customer gets hurt, his lawyer will eat that shop owner alive. And the CUSTOMER might end up owning the place, after the dust settles

Were I a shop owner, my response would be “Sir, I must respectfully decline your offer. Good day.”

I agree, and suspect that would be a barrier to any school allowing you to use their facility also.

There is a possible third option. Schools with automotive technology programs may, if they’re teaching the subject that you’re needing to repair, be willing to take your car in for the students to use as a lab project. Typically the labor will be free and parts will be at shop prices. The caveat is that they must be studying the subject at the time, you need to be patient, and it needs to be a small enough job for them to complete at “learning speed”, which is longer than a regular repair shop. A regular shop will take your vehicle and put a mechanic on it continuously for eight hours a day until it’s complete. A school will have perhaps two three-hour labs each week to do the job. Our model was to have the students studying the subject in lecture in the morning and then spend the afternoon in lab applying what they’d learned, under the supervision of the instructors.

One other caveat: avoid holidays. I brought my old pickup with 295,000 miles on it to have the clutch done just before Thanksgiving. They ran into a problem and the truck stayed on the rack until after New Years. I knew of the possibility and accepted it willingly. I’ve always been a proponent of using our old vehicles to teach the students on, and was happy to make the compromise. Not to mention that it saved me a ton of money. :grin:

If you decide to consider this option, the one to talk to is the chairman of the department.