Out in the warmer states, auto and motorsports enthusiasts get to enjoy their pastimes all year round. Meanwhile, us northerners are stuck inside going stir-crazy as our babies sit idle. Talk about seasonal depression… Most gearheads spend the winter wrenching on their project cars, but what about those who already have their dream ride pretty-well-built to their liking? Just because the ground is covered in snow and that prized ride is tucked away for a few months, doesn’t mean there aren’t garage activities to keep you preoccupied.
Off Season Spring Cleaning
This one comes from personal experience. Throughout the summertime, I try to do my part to keep the work area clean. But if I have the choice between rewarding projects like fabrication and welding or tedious cleaning, then you can bet I’ll pick the former. So it’s my own fault that by the time the first snowfall drifts across the ground, I’m dealing with a major mess that makes my head spin.
Yea, “spring cleaning” is a thing, but who wants to do that when the weather is nice? Move that work to the list of poor-weather projects.
First things first: clean out the junk. You can’t work on anything in a cluttered environment. And besides being a distraction, it’s a safety hazard. Have a yard sale or put some listings on Craigslist, but get Grandma’s furniture and the broken Christmas lights out. They’re taking up valuable space! Once you can see the floor and the surface of your work table or bench, you can start acquiring (or updating) your hand tools.
Besides, a decent cleaning can take at least a few days of winter doldrums. And since we still have several months until the earth cozies back up to the sun, there’s no pressure to hurry. Gut the place section by section and organize every last inch. See how fast you start beating those winter blues when your garage looks worthy of TV show.
Every weekend warrior and die hard enthusiast has a plethora of broken or rusty tools sitting in their collection. During a good shop clean up, you can take inventory of everything that’s busted, broken, or rotted. Once all of these tools are accumulated, get to work.
Tools with lifetime warranties, like those pesky ratchets that skip teeth, can be replaced. Rusted-up pliers and adjustable wrenches can get a good cleaning to get them working again. And of course, the power tools with worn brushes can be serviced too. It may not be the same as actually working on your car, but these quick garage projects will surely give you the sense of accomplishment you need to get through the winter. And truthfully, the maintenance-type recommendations on this list are not top of mind when the sun is shining and the Porsche 911 can come out to play. Do yourself a favor and plow through the grunt work when there’s really nothing better to do.
Build Your Tool Collection
Sure, a shopping spree for new tools sounds like our kinda fun, but n-o-t when all those nickel-and-dime parts keep your pockets poor—preventing you from building up that great tool collection. If you’re trapped inside this winter with less to see and do, it’s safe to say you’ll be saving some dough. So guess what you can do with all that extra cash? Shopping…Tim-the-Tool-Man-Taylor kind of shopping.
While cleaning, organizing, and repairing, take note of what tools are missing from your collection. Winter is an opportune time to consider upcoming projects. You might find that you need some specialty tools to get certain jobs done. If you’re working within a strict budget, there’s no shame in checking out sites where you can possibly snag a gently used specialty tool at a fraction of the cost. Tools are a big investment and a lot of guys dig themselves a hole right out of the gate by throwing thousands at tools that perhaps they don’t really need or don’t do what they thought. Full retail price may not be warranted for a newbie DIYer, nor for tools that are expected to do small odds and ends from time to time. So, there’s nothing wrong with hitting up eBay or Craigslist to start out with a reliable, second-hand item.
We know, shopping doesn’t beat wrenching, but it’s certainly a proven morale-booster. If you’re looking for some great tool ideas, check out our sister post later today: “Top 5 Tools You’ll Need to Finish Those Winter Projects.”
Tie Those Loose Threads
Tidying the garage and setting up the shop aren’t enough work for you, right? You’re not alone. A lot of us will need to actually get our hands dirty to make ourselves feel good through the winter. But I’m willing to bet that somewhere in your garage right now is a project resting around 98% to your liking, with one or two minor issues keeping it from feeling complete. It might be pitted chrome on the underside of a bumper, a missing piece of trim, a portion of the suspension that needs a little more work… the list goes on and on.
During the summer, we tend to let these things go. (Wheeling, camp fires, and brews. Priorities, right?) The winter is a great time to take advantage and tie up all those little loose ends. Besides, what better way to gear yourself up for a big New Year’s resolution project than by clearing the deck of busy work? Sometimes even the smallest of projects can keep you motivated.
Build That Engine/Drivetrain
Many of us have dreams for our prized rides. And most of those dreams come back to the engine and drivetrain. At least for me they do. Maybe the power plant isn’t as powerful or efficient as you’d like. Or the transmission behind it may need to be beefed up or upgraded. And that dinky differential that’s keeping you from putting power to the ground is definitely holding you back.
Even if you feel like it’s enough during some of those cruises you take in the summer, the winter is the perfect time to build up a combination that will take your dream car up above and beyond your wildest dreams. While maybe not the “quickest” of quick garage projects, it’ll surely keep you busy throughout the season.
In the upper United States and Canada, many of us are facing between five and six long months of soul-crushing winter—perhaps even longer. While these five quick garage projects may not seem like much at first glance, they’re enough to get the ball rolling. And we can guarantee once you start rooting around in that garage, you’ll uncover several other ways to keep those tools busy this season.