Vehicle by automotive lifts in a repair shop

Equipment You Need Before Opening an Auto Repair Shop

You’ve done your research. You have excellent business acumen and years of auto mechanic experience. Now you’ve decided to work for yourself and open your own automotive repair shop.

Getting started is much easier said than done. First, have you defined the tools and equipment you’ll need for your shop? Answering this question is the first step. After all, having the right equipment will improve efficiency and accuracy and reduce safety risks.

If you haven’t made your list yet, keep reading this article. In it, we’ll highlight some of the top automotive shop equipment you’ll need before you open for business.

The Basics

 When compiling your list, start with consumables, including cleaning towels, face masks (N95 or equivalent), electrical tape, funnels, protective eyewear (heavy-duty goggles and face shields), gloves, earplugs, and rags.

After that, you’ll need ancillary support items like flashlights, fuel-injector cleaner, battery chargers, jumper cables, first-aid kits, steel-toe shoes, and fire extinguishers.

Basic Consumables:

  • Cleaning Towels
  • Face Masks
  • Electrical Tape
  • Funnels
  • Protective Eyewear
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Earplugs
  • Rags

Ancillary Support Items:

  • Flashlights
  • Fuel-Injector Cleaner
  • Battery Chargers
  • Jumper Cables
  • First-Aid Kits
  • Steel-Toe Shoes
  • Fire Extinguishers


Once you complete your list of basic consumables and support items, you’ll want to define a separate list of tools for your mechanic shop. Your list should include the following:

  • Screwdrivers: Make sure you have a complete line of screwdrivers with multiple gauges, lengths, and sizes.
  • Wrenches, Pliers, Drain Pans, Vice Grips, & Socket Sets: You’ll need needle-nosed, bent-nosed, and slip-joint pliers, multiple drain pans, vice grips, calibrated torque wrenches, socket sets, and oil filter wrenches.
  • Impact Guns: As you already know, impact guns, also known as impact wrenches, remove rims and wheel bolts much faster than manual wrenches.
  • Grease Guns: Grease guns are essential for providing lubricant to multiple areas.
  • Grinders: Grinders are needed to grind down surfaces before repair and painting.
  • Wheel Chocks: Wheel chocks are placed behind each wheel to keep the car in place and are critical for technician safety.
  • Digital Multimeters: Digital multimeters are electrical diagnostic tools that allow you to measure voltage.
  • Paint Sprayers: Paint sprayers allow you to paint large surface areas after they’ve been ground down.
  • Mechanic’s Stethoscope: A mechanic’s stethoscope helps you detect any noises or clunking noises within the engine or transmission.
  • Feeler Gauges: Feeler gauges provide measurements of gaps or voids.


After purchasing tools, your next step is purchasing equipment for your automotive shop, including vehicle lifts, brake lathes, engine hoists, and air compressors. This step requires careful research and consideration. When researching, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What types of vehicles will I be working on the most?
  2. Will I ever expand the size of my bay?
  3. What is the condition of the concrete slab in my bay?
  4. What is my top priority: safety, efficiency, or cost-effectiveness?

Vehicle Lifts

There are several types of vehicle lifts, but the two most common for automotive service centers include two-post and four-post lifts.

Make sure your chosen lift is a well-recognized brand name with several safety features, accessories, and a footprint that aligns with your available space. Mobile lifts are a good option for smaller automotive shops that may expand in the future.

When choosing a vehicle lift, you’ll also need a better understanding of what type of vehicles you’ll be servicing. Will it be light-duty vehicles, heavy-duty, or a mix? Be sure your lift has the right load capacity. You’ll also want to pay close attention to installation instructions and always have a professional install your lift. Is your concrete slab thick enough for the lift you want? If not, you’ll have to fix your concrete before installing the lift.

Brake Lathe

It won’t take long before you need to repair or rework a car’s brakes. Having a brake lathe is a must-have in these situations. With a brake lathe, you’ll be able to resurface rotors in-house without having to send them outside for servicing. There are two primary brake lathe options: on-car and bench. On-car lathes can potentially save you time; some will even feature reverse and upside-down operations. Bench lathes offer more versatility and safety and sometimes feature independent feed options and speed adjustment. 

Similar to vehicle lifts, ensure you’re using a brake lathe from an established brand that offers support services. Your brake lathe should have a long lifespan, feature exceptional vibrational control, and feature digital readouts to improve accuracy.

Engine Hoists

Like vehicle lifts, knowing what vehicles you plan to service is a must because the type of engine hoist you need will vary based on the weight of the engines you’ll be servicing. Once you’ve established the average weight of engines you’ll be lifting, you’ll want to choose a hoist with a slightly bigger weight capacity to ensure safety. 

There are also a few types of engine hoists you can choose from, including hydraulic, chain engine, and electric. Hydraulic hoists are usually fast and easy to operate but do take up some space. Comparatively, chain hoists are slower, relatively inexpensive, and less bulky. Electric hoists can be expensive, especially for shop owners that plan to service heavy-duty vehicles, but they are extremely fast and easy to operate. 

Additionally, some hoists are foldable, which can be ideal for shop owners focused on finding space-saving solutions.

Air Compressors

When choosing an air compressor, carefully consider your budget, how much power you need for daily operation, and if mobility is a priority. There are portable compressors that are easy to use and store, and they come in various configurations, including twin-stack, hot dog, pancake, wheelbarrow, and inflator.

There are also other considerations in air compressors, including:

  • Maintenance Preferences
  • Noise Level Preference
  • Safety/Environmental Protection

Take your time looking through all of your options, and be sure to pay extra attention to the specifications of each compressor you consider.

Get Help From Allied

Opening your automotive service center is a challenge, which is why Allied is here to help you every step of the way. Located in Ann Arbor, MI, we’re an industry-leading automotive service equipment distributor serving shop owners throughout the United States.

We offer a full line of automotive lifts, air compressors, and other automotive shop equipment. We even provide facility design services for shop owners who are opening a new shop or expanding their current one. In addition to our impressive inventory, we provide a wide array of value-added services for local shop owners in Michigan, including facility design assistance, ALI-certified inspections, and equipment installations.

Please contact us today to learn more about our services and products or for help selecting the right automotive shop equipment.