ACCC urges caution with DIY vehicle maintenance

21 June 2019

Around 120 Australians have died as a result of do it yourself (DIY) car maintenance accidents since 2000, while many hundreds have been hospitalised due to injuries, and the ACCC is warning consumers to take extra care when repairing their vehicles.

The ACCC has developed a safety campaign which includes a video explaining the correct procedure for common DIY car maintenance tasks to help raise awareness about the associated dangers.

“Tragically, many people, including some experienced mechanics, have been crushed and killed while working under their car,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.   

Most of the fatalities were men and involved the vehicle being lifted or supported in the wrong way. Most victims were aged 40 to 49.

“We’ve created this video to help people understand and avoid the common unsafe practices with DIY repairs to help reduce the likelihood of an accident.”

Research shows most fatalities happen when the victims are working under a vehicle and using equipment incorrectly, with many of the fatalities involving the use of vehicle jacks. 

“We want to get the message out that people should never get under a vehicle supported only by a jack, they should always use support stands or ramps, and chocks,” Mr Keogh said. 

Many of the DIY activities also involved fuel tanks or fuel lines and the use of power tools, increasing the potential risks.

Common unsafe DIY practices that can lead to accidents can include:

  • Performing vehicle maintenance on unsteady ground, sand or a sloped surface;
  • Using makeshift support stands such as wood or bricks;
  • Not applying the handbrake and not putting the vehicle in gear or in park;
  • Failing to “chock” the wheels on a raised vehicle;
  • Incorrectly using a vehicle jack or using a jack with a known fault.

Additionally, while some people may have applied safeguards such as applying the handbrake, the work they are doing while underneath the car may disengage the handbrake, leading to potential accidents. 

“This is why it’s so important to have multiple levels of safety controls in place.”

The ACCC has also spoken with Robinette Emonson, whose husband died after being crushed by his car while working in his garage.

“Despite suffering this tragic loss, Robinette has shared her story to help raise awareness, and share an important message with others,” Mr Keogh said.

To watch these videos, go to our website.

More information about safe vehicle maintenance is available at productsafety.gov.au/DIYCarSafety.

Release number: 
97/2019
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