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Vehicle: Car: Service
Rent-a-Garage   (+5)  [vote for, against]
Lift included, tools extra

Drive, tow, or push your wreck to the nearest Rent-a-Garage, and spend the day fixing it. I like doing work on my car, but some of the equipment needed, such as the lift, is too expensive for an individual to obtain. How about having a place where you could rent a well equipped mechanics shop for half a day or a day? There could be several bays, with a mechanic there to oversee/answer questions. This whole complex could be adjacent to an autoparts store chain, like AutoZone or the like. Tool rentals would of course be available. I'd bet that with a price of up to $200 per day on weekends and $100 per day on weekdays, a place like this could stay full. Vehicle storage on premises for projects that weren't completed would of course be available for a fee.

Buy the parts, rent the away.
-- gabe, Nov 26 2003

(?) Auto Hobby Shop http://www.lajes-se...auto_hobby_shop.htm
One of many. [Cedar Park, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Baked in many US armed forces bases as a "Auto Hobby Shop". Rent stalls and do the work yourself, with qualified staff for the tough stuff (rotor/drum turning, suspension, etc).
-- Cedar Park, Nov 27 2003

I like this idea and especially DrCalculus's spin on it. Even something as simple as being able to try a different monitor on your PC without having to lug it in to work would be a boon.
-- dobtabulous, Nov 27 2003

Yeah, hella Baked but probably rare in the commercial sector due to insurance considerations.
-- phoenix, Nov 28 2003

With the two mentions of *Insurance* - is this speculation or fact? While I also assume it to be true, can fire & casualty premiums be lowered by having waivers of liability signed by those using the service?
-- thumbwax, Nov 28 2003

I remember reading a few years ago about a New York stereo store that was open only thursday nights and saturday and sunday. it was staffed by people with other jobs but were passionate about stereos and worked almost for free and the place was mobbed. Imagine taking in your car or computer to a place filled with others interested in the same thing- it would be more of a party than a service session.
-- Creation is a patient search, Nov 28 2003

The tools would be protected by auto-ID tags, which will likely be replaceing UPC codes in supermarkets soon. Each tool will have its unique ID, and after each session, if a scan reveals that the tool is missing, it is taken from the deposit.
-- gabe, Nov 29 2003

The "Cartalk" guys on NPR started out running a garage like this back in the '70s IIRC. They ran out of customers after a while, and converted over to a regular garage. Here's a quote from Ray's bio:

"We knew our idea was brilliant and thought we'd have wheelbarrows full of money to show for it. Of course, the do-it-yourselfers who came in were such klutzes that we felt sorry for them, and we'd end up working on their cars for $2.50 an hour, which is what they were paying to supposedly do their own work. So we ended up fixing all the cars that came in. I mean, if some poor chump is spending all day trying to change his spark plugs, you can't help but give him a hand. Consequently, we ended up helping everyone all the time, and we made no money at all."
-- toiyabe, Nov 29 2003

[drcalculus] We have a free of charge work bench at our store ... complete with thugs like me to help, spare cards, diagnostic equipment, etc ...
-- Letsbuildafort, Nov 29 2003

Baked and eaten... There was a place such as described, nice heated either six or eight bay garage in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the early 80s where I sometimes changed my oil in cold weather. It closed up and was dormant for some time before becoming something else. The owner told me it was insurance that did it in. Could some ironclad waiver be the answer? Be nice to hope so! Is there a half baked lawyer in the house?
-- hulot, Nov 29 2003

Baked as far as spaceship repair goes, at Mako's. From the Han Solo prequel trilogy.
-- Eugene, Nov 29 2003

Such places already exist in Canada.Brampton ,example.
-- python, Nov 30 2003

I've had this idea in the past as well; didn't find this until I posted it and waugs linked. Here's my take that might fix some of the woes:

Add a club membership spin for those who are more dedicated. Post a website group for rating local mechanics and car discussion between club members. Include lots of waivers to deal with the insurace, warranties, etc.

Use a deposit and / or trade of license to deal with the tool issue. Turn in all the tools clean and in working order, and you get most of your deposit back. Break or steal something and you've bought it. And we have your license.

Long term storage facilities available, by day, by week, or by month.
-- RayfordSteele, Mar 14 2004

Hi.. I have been working on the business plan and funding for this for 2 years now in the Washington DC area.

I am a motorcycle fan, and love to customize anything. I figured i would bring my skills to public using this idea that I enjoyed when I was in the Army in the '80's. I started the idea based on motorcycles and kit bikes, but have also included cage .. I mean car :) lifts, etc.

In research we have found 2 major issues and costs. (There are many more TRUST me ļ )

The biggy Insurance. This is an uncontrollable reoccurring monster. You have little control over your liability cost except to convince the underwriter you are doing everything and then some to ensure you customers are safe and protected while in the shop as well as years down the road (You are treated like any other auto business but you are allowing an unknown person to use your facilities (Injury lawsuits)

The Next, I call them the toxic laws.. As any other auto shop, paint shop, etc you have to abide by zoning, EPA, and (most states have one) the local environmental folks.

We currently have in hand and ready to start with, 3 motorcycle lifts, 2 car lifts, a portable motorcycle Dyno (You can see this at We are looking for feedback on this and an outside partner. You can drop me a note at
-- rikk, Aug 02 2004

Instead of "renting" the bays or requiring Membership, why not make it a timeshare situation? Ownership should help to alleviate the liability issues, you can't sue yourself, in most cases.

For $500, you get 50 hours of bay time per year. Overnight storage is charged off at 15 minutes per hour, so that to store it 16 hours overnight would only eat up 4 hours of your alloted time. Additional hours could be aquired for $10 per hour usage fee in blocks of 10 hours. Annual maintenace fee of $500. Transfer of ownership subject to $50 transfer fee.
-- roland3c, Aug 28 2004

Interesting you bring that up. I have done somthing simular I am renting space from a nice person with a large shop that purchased it for his use on the week ends..

Make things simple I mentioned my idea and his location (Not the greatest location but it is in the mountains :) ) He mentioned that you provide a card. Each item has a cost and needs to be monitored for use. The user would be deducted or their credit card charged as needed.

Now a timeshare would be interesting in its self. A group of people get together and purchase the "shop" then devide up ownership. I would do this..
-- rikk, Sep 01 2004

We are getting ready to open a full service do it yourself auto hobby shop in Charlottesville,VA For the hourly rental rate of $28(to start.hope to get it down to $22), you get a bay with a fully stocked 12 drawer toolbox, jack and 4 jackstands, workbench and stool, creeper and seat, drop light, towel and cleaner, etc. With the rental you have access to, at no extra charge, tire balancer(pay for weights only at cost), tire changer, brake lathe(bits at cost), computer diagnostics by technician, pipe bender and welders, engine hoist and stands, transmission teardown table, etc. The only service we won't offer is wheel alignment and frame straightening equipment. Specialty tools will be checked out from tool locker at no extra charge.The name is TheAutoHobbyShop(.com) and my email is We will be looking to expand to other cities after we work out the little kinks in the first store.
-- MERCNRY, Feb 27 2005

I thought of this same idea, and the same concept applied to woodworking shops. Supply a couple hundred square feet, some chopsaws and lathes and bandsaws and planers and stuff. But what I kept being told was that if you give someone your tools and allow that person to use them, and that person cuts off their hand et al, YOU are undeniably liable. YOU should have known that these tools are dangerous, and YOU should have taken proper precautions to keep people from injuring themselves, and YOU should have known that you cannot possibly take proper precautions against these kind of mishaps.

I don't think any kind of waiver is ironclad, considering the stuff that our legal system allows people to get away with. I've heard that waivers, as well as prenuptuals and all other types of 'preventative' paperwork get thrown out of a court case as fast as they are mentioned.
-- natewill, Mar 01 2005

Before you can rent space the first time you have to have a safety spiel and a shop tour. We are looking into having a safety video. We also have a very long release form that states that you know that what you are doing in inherently dangerous and accept FULL responsiblity. You release the staff and shop of all liability and if forfeit all rights to sue. You have to agree arbitration. Several attorneys have looked this over and it's as good as it gets. You have no rights when you enter the shop and rent space. If a technician tells you not to do something and you do it anyway, you are subject to immediate removal regardless of the state of repair. If you don't like my rules then don't rent from me and don't try to intimidate me either by sueing me. If you mention anything about sueing or that's not right and it's your time, I will give you your money back and bar you from using my place again. You won't even be allowed to help a buddy who is renting space. We are allowing you to rent from us, and it's a way street. I'm fair to you and you are fair to me. OLD SCHOOL.
-- MERCNRY, Mar 01 2005

i think a local engineering/boatbuilding firm does that here and they dont really need many liability waivers because nobody really sues around here
-- andrew1, Apr 08 2005

This Idea Is In Action In Detroit area, in Michigan , check it out http:// /RentaBay/ Auto Hobby shop is What the Military Uses as Their call Name for this Idea,at a Much Better discount than a commercial place could Match, but thats why It's Commercial huh,..Check here for those, http://aolsearch aol/ search?query=the+ auto+hobby+ shop & invocationType Peace All
-- rbmotorsport, May 27 2006

random, halfbakery