Self Serve U-Wrench Shop

Anyone ever use a U-Wrench self serve shop? There is one in Calgary I used last week. They will rent you a hoist to lift your vehicle. This is up the Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is not part of a chain or anything. To address liability issues you have to read and sign a short liability sheet and sign it. Anyone helping you has to do the same. I'm not sure if that liability sheet would work in most States in the US. Anyway, it's first come first serve. It opens at 10:00 AM everyday, 11:00 on Sundays. With the present Covid issues, you have to wear a mask while inside the building. You wait outside the door and a guy comes out and talks to you to ask what repairs you are doing that day and assigns a bay to you. He then guides you in to the bay and you park the car, turn off the ignition, but leave the keys with the car in neutral and the driver's side window open. They position the car, set the lift legs, and get it off the ground. They show you how to use the controls and you are good to go. You operate the lift up and down as required. They charge $35 per hour ( about $26 US per hour). If you you don't finish the job by 5:00 PM you can leave it overnight. You can also rent an acetylene torch and a few types of welders. They also provide air hoses and you can rent an impact wrench or bring your own. There is a separate section for body work. Advice is free, and also a few free-lance mechanics are available. www.U-Wrench.ca Here is a pic of my 2005 Taurus on the hoist. Enjoy.

059094F2-23D3-406D-8060-4B77ECBF3629.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Astro14

$100 Site Donor
Staff member
Messages
12,337
Location
Virginia Beach
The US DOD had auto hobby shops as part of the base services that worked the same way, of course, they charged 25 cents an hour... Since the decline of interest in the hobby, many of those facilities are now closed. In Virginia Beach, a similar private shop* has opened. $30/hour plus free tool rental. I think. https://americandiyg.com/adiyg/ Interesting business model. Tom and Ray Magliozzi (click and clack from Car Talk) started out this way - renting bay space and tools. They found that they spent so much time "helping" that it was better to simply do the work and they became a regular shop. *Coincidentally, a block away from my shop. Which is not for rent, but perhaps I should look into the monetization...
 

Snagglefoot

Thread starter
Messages
7,973
Location
SE British Columbia, Canada
Originally Posted by diyjake
They provide the tools?
I bring my own, but once in a while I need something that I forgot. If you use their's you might be competing with others for stuff.
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,510
Location
SW Ohio
Generally speaking, insurance liability (extremely high costs) makes this a non-starter here in the US. A liability release isn't always an automatic "get out of jail free" card for the establishment.
Originally Posted by Astro14
The US DOD had auto hobby shops as part of the base services that worked the same way, of course, they charged 25 cents an hour... Since the decline of interest in the hobby, many of those facilities are now closed.
In some local groups (FB, reddit, etc), it's been mentioned that Wright-Patterson AFB still has a garage facility on base for enlisted folks and possibly even contractors. I think people have mentioned that if your friends with someone who works there, you can bring your vehicle as long as they accompany you.
 
Messages
1,420
Location
ZFW
There was a DIY shop here in DFW that was really good. Worked the same way- rent a lift, some tools available, etc. Unfortunately, it closed down last December. Just not enough traffic, I suppose. I'd imagine there's a lot of overhead you'd have to clear. I love places like these just because there's a lot of stuff I can't do in my apartment's parking lot, but they don't seem to be able to stick around for long.
 
Messages
25,173
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
In the US no way. First you would be lucky if you weren't sued the first week no matter what they signed and second most of the tools would be gone even quicker. The whole thing would be a major fiasco.
 
Messages
1,420
Location
ZFW
I've often wondered if a place like a NAPA (privately owned) wouldn't be able to attach a garage with a few lifts to the back of their store. Seems like it would be an alright model- sell parts/fluids, offer to rent a lift to do the work, rental tools still available through the counter, etc. Insurance is still a hurdle, but I don't see why it wouldn't work outside of that.
 
Messages
2,661
Location
utah
A more interesting model for USA would be a timeshare shop. You invest in a nice warehouse shop and get to use the lift/tools a few times a year as needed. Everyone involved is an owner and therefore is not likely to sue the partnership.
 
Messages
4,510
Location
SW Ohio
Any shop owners care to post how much they pay for liability insurance (in the US) ? Granted, this covers everything from vehicles in the shop to when they have to test-drive a vehicle. Now, take that number and double, triple, or quadruple it since it will be "amateurs" that will be "working" there.
Originally Posted by JustN89
I've often wondered if a place like a NAPA (privately owned) wouldn't be able to attach a garage with a few lifts to the back of their store. Seems like it would be an alright model- sell parts/fluids, offer to rent a lift to do the work, rental tools still available through the counter, etc.
I think people greatly overestimate the amount of DIY auto repair work that gets done, especially any that needs a lift. You also have the convenience of doing work at home, for example, taking a break to eat lunch/dinner or even stopping for the night and finish later. At a rent-a-lift place, the clock will keep ticking....
 
Messages
1,420
Location
ZFW
Originally Posted by hallstevenson
Originally Posted by JustN89
I've often wondered if a place like a NAPA (privately owned) wouldn't be able to attach a garage with a few lifts to the back of their store. Seems like it would be an alright model- sell parts/fluids, offer to rent a lift to do the work, rental tools still available through the counter, etc.
I think people greatly overestimate the amount of DIY auto repair work that gets done, especially any that needs a lift. You also have the convenience of doing work at home, for example, taking a break to eat lunch/dinner or even stopping for the night and finish later. At a rent-a-lift place, the clock will keep ticking....
Very true, and not something I thought about because I'm one of those people who can't stop working until it's done. Otherwise, I lose my place and forget where everything went lol.
 
Messages
4,510
Location
SW Ohio
Originally Posted by JustN89
...and not something I thought about because I'm one of those people who can't stop working until it's done. Otherwise, I lose my place and forget where everything went lol.
Oh, trust me, I do try and finish things vs stopping and re-starting the next day and there's been plenty of times I've attempted to go to bed at 1am, still smelling like oil or grease or dirt and been "nope, nope".
 
Messages
3,899
Location
Canada
I miss U-Wrench when I moved to BC from Calgary, AB. frown The ability to do your own repairs and maintenance with the assistance of others (if needed) was priceless.
 
Messages
36,163
Location
ME
I work on my own stuff to save money. Spending money goes against that philosophy. The only thing I ever needed a lift for was an exhaust mid-pipe for a saturn s-series. It's 4 feet long and has to approach the rear suspension upward at a 45 degree angle before it, itself meets the catalytic. So I cut the brand new pipe in half and welded a coupling instead. I have access to a DOD hobby shop, it's ~$7/hr now IIRC but closed due to [censored]-19. Never used it. I like having a "parts runner" just in case, as well as contingent tools (bolt extractors etc) at home that I wouldn't think of packing when planning a job. I, like others, would hate to have a car "stranded" on a lift with the meter running. I like to take my time for quality-- greasing things, fixing rustproofing etc when it's apart.
 
Top