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Using a pit to work underneath vehicles

Mosey's Avatar
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04-04-03, 05:46 AM   #1  
Using a pit to work underneath vehicles

I've been thinking about getting a lift to make it easier to work underneath vehicles for doing jobs like engine and trans oil changes, exhaust work, trans removal/replacement, U-Joints replacement, clutch jobs, etc. It's going to be expensive and will require a garage with a higher ceiling, thus making the garage more expensive too. Does anyone have a lift? If so, is it worth the money?

Now I'm wondering if a pit would be a better idea. It wouldn't be as nice as a lift, but maybe it would be good enough. I've seen them and I've seen people use them, but I've never actually used one myself. Does anyone have one? Are they really much better then just jacking a vehicle up? One disadvantage I can see is that I'd still have to jack it up to do brake jobs and tire rotations.

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Joe_F's Avatar
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04-04-03, 09:11 AM   #2  
You have to ask yourself if a pit were a good idea, why shops have lifts .

Lifts are definitely a great thing! If you can go for it, do it!

Kestas's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2000
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04-04-03, 09:56 AM   #3  
I think pits are a great idea for the DIYer. (Lifts are a good for people who repair cars for a living.) Pits are cheaper and simpler. I used one once. Not as comfortable as lifts, but better than crawling under a car.

slumlordfrank's Avatar

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04-04-03, 12:46 PM   #4  
Pit for working on cars

Two phone calls to make first: Your INSURANCE carrier, they'll tell you NO WAY, and your city or town CODE DEPARTMENT, they'll tell you NO WAY.

Pits provide a low spot for collecting dangerous fumes which leads to fire/explosion risk. They are a big hole in an unexpected spot for firemen to fall into in emergencies.

A friend of mine in an unincorporated area has/had a pit in the thid bay of his garage. One day at a cook-out at his place one guest was a next door neighbor or some other connection to his insurance agent. He happened to mention the great pit that Jim and Judy had in their garage. Within 10 days the insurance carrier had sent a notice that if the pit was still there at renewal time he wouldn't be renewed!!

Buy a good set of ramps, jacks and jackstands and a comfortable creeper.

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04-05-03, 10:10 PM   #5  
I have had pits in the past. I have a lift now. IMHO, I would save my money for the lift. I have never had any trouble getting my home insured or selling a home with lifts installed. I just had to have my house re appraised by the insurance company because of an addition and they said it raises the value of my house so it might raise my premiums a little. My premiums did go up but not by much and that could have been more because of the addition than the lift. All of my lifts are Rotary brand lifts. I really like them. They offer models from 9,000lbs to 130,000lbs. I have a 30,000lbs two post model for home and we have 130,000lbs four post models at work, I really like them, but either one of these might be over kill for you. Rotary along with several other lift companies make portable hydraulic and pneumatic lift’s to 60,000 lbs. If you have roof clearance problems a portable lift might be something to look in to. A pit would get you buy, but you plan on keeping the home I would go ahead put a lift in. I have had several of my friends buy lifts for there own shop after coming over and using mine. There is just something about being able to sit on a stool or stand up to work on a rig. Plus you can roll your tool chest under there for easy access to tools. That is not so easy in a pit. Plus it can be a pain in the booty to bring transmission, transfer cases, and other stuff up from a pit.

Jason R's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2002
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04-07-03, 10:16 AM   #6  
I have used the pit in my garage for about 10 years now. I would hate to be without it.

However I'd rather have a lift (not have to buy or pay for the renovation to the garage). You wouldn’t have to worry about driving in the pit (or backing into it). (Never done that myself… nor have I fallen into it… amazingly and thankfully)

My pit has boards that can cover it up completely if need be.

If you happen to be working up top and drop something without the boards being on, though, you get a little tired of up and down the ladder to get that #&$*@* wrench AGAIN. (or that miniscule little nut that is about invisible)

As for the danger of fumes building up, I agree. I've never had a bit of trouble though. If I'm doing anything that releases volatile fumes in the garage I have a squirrel cage blower blowing through the pit (and I don't light matches).

The pit makes just about any project possible and easier (if it’s under the vehicle). Oil changes are a snap. Tranny changes, or fluid changes…. Much easier than with no pit or lift. (as well as all those other things you mentioned.... and more)

I’ve even replaced in-tank fuel pumps while over my pit (blower a blowin’).

It would be awesome to be able to pull in and lift the car a little and rotate the tires real quick….

I still say the lift is better, but the pit is still very damned handy. I think that if I ever design one to be built, I’ll build a set of steps at both ends…. That ladder is a pita and I can’t believe I’ve never slipped off.

I never thought about the firefighter scenario though. I’d think they wouldn’t just go running right in without looking at what their feet are touching. .

My pit was here when I got the place. If I had the cash flow, I'd choose a lift. If I didn't have the cash for a lift, but did for a pit, then I'd build a pit. It sure beats the hell out of creeping underneath... with that big ol' frame inches from your 'nads ready to fall off of those ramps or jacks. (greatly exaggerated, btw)

Last edited by Jason R; 04-07-03 at 10:55 AM.
Jason R's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 261

04-07-03, 10:53 AM   #7  
Weldgod, I just read your post all the way through.

Now I want a lift. lol

I'll still take a pit over a plain ol' garage (with no lift) though.

I have a chainfall hanging in the rafters of my garage. So far the transmissions I've dealt with in my pit were able to be lifted out by 2 people (probably could have busted a ..nut.. and done it with one person).

If it was that heavy, you can still roll in the pit whatever you'd roll the tranny on while using a lift... and use the chainfall to get it out.

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