Tag Archives: easy maintenance

Working With Dad

Nobody was better with a wrench than Dad…

As we celebrate Father’s Day, we here at Backyard Buddy can’t help reminiscing about learning to work on cars with our dads, and thinking about some of the ways we can pass a love of wrenching on to our kids. A lot of us had great times working with our dads, whether it was handing him tools while he did routine maintenance on the family’s Olds 88, or him helping us keep the pile of junk that was our first car running so we could go out on a saturday night.

For a lot of us, it seems like nobody was better with a wrench than Dad, although we suspect that he thought the same thing about Grandpa. If you’d like your kids to think the same thing about you, there’s no better way than to have them help you take care of your vehicle, whether it’s the family minivan or your fully-restored 58 Vette, or for you to help them take care of theirs.

For young kids, or kids without much interest in “how things go”

Take them on a “tour” of your family’s vehicle. They’ve likely never given much thought to how a car works (Mommy or Daddy sit up front and we get where we need to go!), but if you ask them how they think a car goes, they may suddenly be very curious about how it works.

The key is to keep it simple and fun. Show them that the gas pedal makes the car go and the brake makes it stop (you can show them the clutch, but good luck explaining the transmission. There’s plenty of adults that don’t get how that works), let them turn on the wipers and the turn signals, and as long as you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, let them turn the engine on and off. For the finale, let them pop the hood (if they can) to hear the satisfying “thunk” of the release, and lift them up to look into the engine bay. If they’re still curious, you can talk with them about how the engine works and show them the major components.

Once you’ve shown them the basics, Invite them to “help” whenever you’re working on something, but be fully aware that they’re probably going to wander off or stay and ask 100 questions, so be prepared to not get much done.

For school kids

This is the classic “hold this flashlight for me. No, point it there. No THERE” age that we all survived. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to get kids to fall in love with wrenching.

Instead, try holding the flashlight for them. Give them simple tasks that you know they can manage (break a lug nut free and then let them take it all the way off, have them check the pressure on the tires, let them pour the oil in during an oil change), explain carefully what they need to do to complete it and what tools they need to use, help them if they get stuck, and encourage them when they are successful. It can take the patience of a saint, but the worst thing to do is to take over the job from them when they’re too slow, or doing something wrong. The investment in time and patience will be worth it!

When you’re working on a project, bring them over and explain what you’re trying to do (“I need to change the parts that make the car stop”) and give them a simple overview of the steps you need to take to do it, then ask them if they’d like to help. Odds are they’ll wander off in 5 minutes anyway, but it can be hard to tell what will strike a child’s curiosity. We’ve seen a first grader with no interest in cars suddenly decide that she was going to be an expert in changing out a dead brake light bulb after asking her dad what he was doing to the car, and she became a lifesafer getting into the confined space with her little hand.

Also, don’t overlook teaching them to fix their things. Instead of fixing a flat tire or squeaky brakes on their bike, work with them to help them fix it.

Like most skill building with kids, the keys are to be patient, explain things thoroughly, and let them learn from mistakes (this may not be the time for them to help with the Vette mentioned above), while celebrating their successes. They’ll have plenty of time to curse at a stuck bolt when they’re older. For now, try to keep it fun and enjoyable.

For older kids

Hopefully by now you’ve sparked an interest in wrenching, but don’t be disappointed if your teenager doesn’t want to get a junked car and rebuild it for their first car.

Many of our households had a “you drive it, you fix it” rule, and while we may not have appreciated it at the time, we learned a lot from it. Although modern cars are getting harder and harder for backyard and shade tree mechanics to repair, you can still help your kids do basic maintenance on their own vehicles. Again, be patient, but teach them how to change oil, change air filters, swap out a battery, replace dead bulbs, check tire pressure, and fix the basic little problems that come up with their car. Always be there to help, but make sure they’re the one doing the work. Even if they’ve never shown an interest before, once their ride is on the line, teens may suddenly be all ears about how to maintain and fix their car.

After all this, your kid may not end up being the type that can tear down an engine or fix anything with spit and bailing wire, but they will at least know the basics of working with their hands to take care of their own vehicle. That’s a Father’s Day gift for all of us.

As always, we’re here to help you work on your vehicles with lifts and accessories that even the youngest mechanic can appreciate. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time so that we can help you find a lift that your kids are likely to inherit.

Most Underappreciated Classics to Consider This Spring

Spring is in the air, and if you’re like us, this is the time when a young (or not so young) man’s thoughts turn to buying a classic car to work on this summer.

We know that not everyone has a Shelby GT budget (or even a kit car Shelby budget), so we wanted to talk about some cars that get you a lot of oomph without draining your wallet. We’ve got to thank the folks over at Hagerty’s classic car insurance for their classic car valuation tool, which handled the numbers part of this list.

Some of their most undervalued classics are:

•    First Generation Mazda Miata (1989-97- $5,000): If you aren’t fooled by its reputation for cuteness (and don’t mind always having the top down if you’re over 6’2”), it’s hard to beat this little convertible. With tens of thousands still on the road 20 years after the original line was ended, you can still fix one fairly easily.
•    C5 Chevy Corvette (1997-2004- $15,000): Thanks to depreciation, it’s possible to own a Corvette for less than you’d pay for the most stripped down new econo-box. They’ve got some years on them now, but Corvettes are some of the most pampered cars on the road, so you’re likely to find a C5 model in great shape.
•    Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe (1984-88- $6.000): Even though it’s from the 80s, the T-bird Turbo Coupe feels like the child of a 1960s American muscle car and a European performance sedan, and was Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1987. 30 years later, these are a bit hard to find, but still fun to drive.
•    Porsche 914 (1969-1976- $12,000): While not a powerhouse like a modern 911, the 914 is often considered the pinnacle of lightweight, low-power design where the fun comes from nimbleness, not raw power. With a choice of a flat-four or flat-six air cooled engine and a distinctive body, it should come as no surprise that the 914 was designed as the replacement for Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia.
•    Studebaker Avanti (1962-1963- $20,000): The rarest car on this list, the Avanti was the swan song for a venerable American car maker. While it never captured the public imagination, the Avanti featured an innovative fiberglass body with looks that were 20 years ahead of their time, and a 240hp V8 that gave it plenty of muscle. If you can find one of the roughly 6,000 made, buy it and be the only guy you know who has one.
•    Volkswagen Corrado VR6 (1992-1995- under $5,000): Originally designed as a replacement for the Porsche 944, the Corrado VR6 packed nearly 200 horsepower into a sporty 2,800 pound car with German handling. If you can find one that hasn’t been destroyed by a teenage boy, and don’t mind the mysteries of VW electrical systems, you can get a lot of speed for a tiny bit of cash.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. If you do your homework and can be happy with a more obscure car, there are still plenty of deals to be had, particularly in late-classic-era cars (full sized convertibles from the late 60s to the mid 70s are a steal, especially if you know how to fix a top), oddball pickups and work trucks, cousins of classics (a ‘67 Mercury Cougar GT is thousands less than a comparable Mustang, but has almost the exact same specs), and professional cars (what’s cooler than tooling around in a late 60s station wagon turned ambulance?).

And remember, a Backyard Buddy lift can help you double the space in your garage while giving you a great platform to easily work on your new find. Give us a call and then get out there and look for your next treasure

Assembling a Backyard Buddy Lift

Assembling a Car Lift: Tips & How To from Backyard Buddy

We make Backyard Buddy lifts to be strong, reliable, and safe. One of the side benefits of this is that because we make such solid products, Backyard Buddy car lift assembly is easier than you’d anticipate. Most customers report back that they’ve assembled theirs in an afternoon or over a couple of evenings.

Unlike other lifts that wobble in a slight breeze or that have to be bolted into your garage floor to stand up safely, a Backyard Buddy car lift goes together as easily as following the instructions. Since our lifts are self-supporting, they can also be assembled at your leisure, with very few critical steps that must be performed together.

Why Assembling a Car Lift from Backyard Buddy is Simple

Every one of our lifts comes with detailed car lift assembly instructions that take you step-by-step through assembling your new lift. The instructions are written in plain English, not wordless drawings like some of the flat pack furniture you may have had the “pleasure” of assembling. We also include detailed diagrams that show how all the major components and systems of your lift go together so that you have a visual reference to compare your work against to make sure you’ve assembled everything correctly.

We’ve even made our car lift assembly instructions and diagrams available to download through our website (http://www.backyard-buddy.com/instructions.html). This way, people interested in buying a Backyard Buddy lift can see exactly what they need to do to put one together, and can also see how well-built our lifts are. We’ve also found that a lot of our customers like to download the instructions while their lift is being shipped to them so that they can get a sense of how the lift goes together before it is sitting in their garage waiting for them. Frankly, we think some of our customers download the instructions to help with that “night before Christmas” feeling they get while their lift is being shipped.

If you’re buying a car lift from Backyard Buddy, you’re probably pretty handy with your tools and don’t shy away from a do-it-yourself project. Even though we know you can do it, if assembling a car lift doesn’t sound like fun (but trust us, it is), or you don’t have time to put it together yourself, our staff is available every weekday from 8AM until 5PM EST to recommend a professional installer in your area to complete your car lift assembly. Our staff is also available to assist you if you run into a problem assembling your lift as well.

Since a picture is worth a lot of words (the last we heard, the exchange rate was somewhere around 1,000), we’d like to show you how easy it is to assemble a car lift from Backyard Buddy. Take a look at Sam Memmolo, from the TV and Radio shows “Shade Tree Mechanic,” “Two Guys Garage,” and “Sam’s Garage Radio Show” assembling his Backyard Buddy car lift: http://www.backyard-buddy.com/assembly-photos.html

We know that Sam is a well-respected mechanic, but don’t be intimidated. Just like he did, you too can put one of our lifts together in a couple of evenings.  Assembling a car lift from Backyard Buddy is simple and intuitive, another great reason to choose one of our high quality, proudly American made products.


Our Backyard Buddy Story: Dave and Denise Tucker

crowded garage

Crowded garage is hard move cars around in

1932 Chevy roadster, Backyard Buddy Lift

Lots of room now!







new camaro and oldsmobile on a Backyard Buddy liftLiving in Michigan, we aren’t able to enjoy our cars all year round and need a place to store them for the winter. We have a garage we use to store our three cars but it was difficult to do without having one of the cars turned sideways, and once full there was no room for anything else.

To help solve this problem, my wife and I decided several years ago to buy a drive-on hoist, so the search began for the perfect hoist. One of the benefits of being active members in a local car club is knowing lots of people with different hoists. In looking at the hoists others have and talking with them about what they likes and dislike about their hoists, we came to one conclusion: buy a good one.

Many of the hoists we looked at were not very robust and seemed weak and cheap. They needed to be bolted to the floor and still appeared flimsy. In looking at how they were assembled and constructed, many looked like they might actually fall. So not being happy with the hoists we saw, we started researching hoists on line. We looked at dozens of them. Even though we are amateur car collectors, we do still have a great deal of money invested in our hobby, and with that comes the fear of a damage if a hoist were to fall or fail. We knew a hoist would let us store additional cars in our garage, so we had an added fear of damaging someone else’s pride and joy if a failure of a cheap hoist were to occur. We were not willing to take these risks.

Backyard Buddy car lift shipping crateOur main interests were:

  • Made in USA
  • Solid/Robust
  • Safe
  • Never going to fall or fail
  • Built-in safety systems
  • Easy to use
  • Easy assembly and maintenance
  • Quality construction using high grade materials, welds, and hardware
  • Free standing (not needing to be bolted to the floor)

Cost was very important, but we were willing to pay a bit more for a high quality product that met our needs. Having wheels and portability was not on our original list of needs–until we ran across the Backyard Buddy and saw the features it had. A jack platform was also not on our original list of needs–but we are glad we got that option for our Backyard Buddy as well. We had not even thought about total lift height, until we saw the Backyard Buddy had a taller lift option.

We gathered information on all the hoists we were interested in, got quotes, and made phone calls. In the end, there was only one clear choice.

It was obvious the Backyard Buddy was a far superior product to anything on the market. It’s offered in cool color combinations too (we got the USA color scheme: red, white and blue). We ordered our Backyard Buddy, and when it showed up we were so excited. 6 hours later it was up and we had put the 1st car on it.

new camaro on a Backyard Buddy liftOur Buddy’s features:

  • Extra tall height
  • Rolling jack platform
  • Drip trays
  • Wheel chock
  • Extra long ramps
  • USA color scheme
  • Casters for portability

Having never owned a hoist and not being familiar with how to set one up, we were concerned, but we found assembling it much easier than expected. It was very well packaged and easy to figure out. The only warning we have for people is that some pieces are very heavy and you do need to make sure you have the proper equipment to move the very heavy parts around. Knowing the right people with the right tools and equipment helps a ton.

Attached are several installation and usage photos as well as one that shows the improved garage layout we now have. We went from difficulty fitting in 3 cars to being able to fit 5 easily.

We have told everyone we know looking to buy a hoist about the Backyard Buddy and we are 100% confident ours will provide years of safe, reliable service. We can sleep well knowing our investment in our cars is protected while our Backyard Buddy is on the job.

What a great product, and it’s even made in the USA. Can’t get any better than that!

Dave and Denise Tucker

Proud and happy owners of a Backyard Buddy–the best hoist for your home. Period.