One of the biggest obstacles to do-it-yourself car maintenance is the ability to crawl underneath the vehicle and access the parts and mechanisms below it. Things ranging from oil changes to more complicated steering mechanism repair are made a lot more doable if you can lift the car up. Fortunately, from some spare lumber and a very simple build, you can make yourself a set of car ramps.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- 28 feet of 2-by-10-inch lumber
- Tape measure
- Marker or pencil
- Wood glue
- 3-inch wood screws
- Rail tie (optional)
- Chainsaw (optional)
Measure and cut your wood pieces into the steps. You'll need two pieces cut to each length: 24 inches, 36 inches, 48 inches and 60 inches. From the excess wood, cut two stopper pieces about 2 or 3 inches in length.
Lay one of the 60-inch pieces on the ground with the narrow end facing you. Place glue on the bottom of a 48-inch piece and align that to three sides of the 60-inch piece. Screw the plank down with four or five screws.
Dab glue on the bottom of a 36-inch piece and align that with the top edge and both sides of the 48-inch piece. Screw this plank into place.
Squirt some glue onto the bottom of a 24-inch piece and align that atop your ramp, continuing the stepped pattern. Screw it into place with three or four screws.
Glue and screw the stopper to the top edge of the ramp, leaving about a 22-inch surface to park the car.
Repeat steps 1 through 5 with the other set of wood pieces.
Leave both ramps to dry overnight.
Mark two 2 1/2-foot sections of rail tie and cut them using a chainsaw.
Lay one of the sections of rail tie so the narrow end faces you. Measure 18 inches from the bottom edge, mark, then draw a diagonal line from the mark to the bottommost corner of the piece. Repeat on the other piece of wood.
Cut along those triangular marks with the chainsaw.
Cut two 3- to 4-inch wedges out of the two cut-off pieces. These will act as stoppers.
Glue a stopper to the top, square edge of one of your ramps. Screw it tightly into place. Repeat for the other rail tie.
Rail Tie Ramps
Tips and warnings
- For cars with a long nose or low ground clearance, you should use longer ramps. Start with 36 feet of wood and make 18-inch steps instead of 12-inch ones.
- When you have no car ramp readily available, and really need one, you can use the spare tire from your car temporarily. Use it as you would a regular ramp: place it in front of the tire and carefully drive onto it.
- A pair of handles attached to the top edges will make moving and storing your ramps a lot easier.
- Do not use ramps on an uneven surface.
- Never crawl under the car unless you're certain the ramps are holding it steadily.
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