General Safety - Tips & Tricks
The biggest thing to keep in mind is to use common sense. A lot of bad things happen when people make simple mistakes. Think about what you're doing before you do it.
Make sure you don't get in over your head. Do your research if you're about to do something you have not done before. The guides here should be a good starting point. Remember that there are no stupid questions. If you're unsure of what you're doing, ask someone who knows.
Never work under the car if its not stable. ALWAYS use jack stands. Never work under a car thats only supported by a jack. Jacks fail, I've seen it several times. The last place you want to be when a jack fails is under the car. It will kill you if it falls on you. I personally like to leave the jack under the side of the car I'm working on as a second layer of protection if the jackstand were to fail (not common, but I have seen it happen before). So, if your setup is like the picture below, you should be fine. As well, always block the wheels that are still on the ground. Usually a big rock or a block of wood works fine. Always try and work on flat level ground. Only jack up a car thats on a slight hill if you have no other choice...and use extreme caution if you do.
When using a wrench or ratchet, always try and push away from your body on it with an open hand. This helps avoid busted knuckles and elbowing yourself in the chest. Both hurt lol
If you're draining fluids, bleeding brakes, taking off fuel lines, etc....ALWAYS wear safety glasses. I've got most automotive fluids in my eyes over the years. The most painful ones are brake fluid, brake parts cleaner, and gasoline. The other fluids don't bug you as much...but its still not pleasant. If you get something in your eyes, go flush out your eyes for a few minutes with luke warm water. If you get excessive amounts of fluids into your eyes, its best to seek medical attention. This is especially true if you get fluid in your eyes that may have metal shavings in it (oil from an engine with a rod knock).
Wear rubber gloves while you're working. It helps keep your hands cleaner. Even if you don't mind getting dirty, when you bust your knuckles open, you will hate scrubbing all the grease and dirt out of an open cut. If you wear gloves, then you won't have to worry about this. It will already be cleanish...and just a normal cleaning of the wound will be good enough.
Make it a habit to take the keys out of the ignition when you're working on the car. This helps prevent accidents like the fans turning on and cutting your fingers off.
Always keep a can of PB Blaser, Deep Creep, etc handy to help with rusted bolts. Even if you don't live in a snowy area, there will still be rusted bolts on your car.
Know the limits of your strength and don't push them. I've pulled muscles and torn ligaments in the past because I put too much force into tools.
Know the limits of your tools and use good quality tools. Every tool has its breaking points. A good rule of thumb is to stick with major brands and you will get stronger tools. Personally I use Great Neck sockets, Husky ratchets, Kobalt box wrenches, Stanley screwdrivers, Craftsman prybars, Matco pliers, Gearwrench branded ratcheting renches, and all of my specialty tools are either Snap On or Matco. For air tools, I either use Ingersol Rand or Matco....and Ingersol makes Matcos anyways...so I guess all my air tools are Ingersol Rand.
Lift safely. Back injuries are no joke and chiropractors get expensive. Don't lift too much for you to handle. If you need help, get help. Always bend your knees to lift and carry the weight close to your body.
If you don't have enough strength to bust loose a bolt, you can put a pipe on the end of your tool to get more leverage.
If you're not a professional, please don't try and modify parts of your vehicle with something that you designed. This almost always ends failure. I've seen everything from fuel lines being held on by bungee cords to brake master cylinders that are patched with duct tape and card board. PLEASE, do things right. If you're in over your head...get help.