Automotive mechanics are no strangers to under-vehicle maintenance activities that can strain their backs, necks, and arms. For this reason, they benefit particularly well from using creepers, which reduce strain and, in turn, boost productivity. Operators can choose from a range of models, with the best choices offering all-around benefits.
Creepers are a staple in shops that don’t make use of the overhead vehicle lift. Let’s have a look at what else there is to know about this go-to mechanic’s tool, so you can better decide whether or not you need one.
What Is a Creeper?
A creeper enhances a mechanic’s mobility under a vehicle by offering a stable wheel-propelled platform to support the body’s movements. It allows an operator to access a car’s underside sans strain-inducing positions, such as crawling, bending, and kneeling. One simply lies on the tool, rolls effortlessly under a stationary automobile, and goes to work. Comfort and functionality are the hallmarks of the best mechanic’s creepers. It’s a combination that lets operators tinker and modify for prolonged periods with zero to minimal strain.
Main Reasons To Use the Creeper
If you do a lot of car maintenance work, chances are you’ll find yourself working as much under it as you will on it. As such, you’ll want to rely on the creeper for the following key reasons:
Going creeper-less under that vehicle won’t do much for your mobility. First off, you’d likely have to crawl on your belly to access your workstation, using your arms to move you forward. If that isn’t stressful enough, once you start working on your back, you might have to crawl back out to use the bathroom or fetch a tool you forgot. The narrow space just doesn’t allow for optimal limb movement. With a creeper to rest on, you can roll in and out of the car’s belly with ease. If you need to switch positions, the tool’s wheels should help you perform those space-limited movements more smoothly.
Working on your back on a hard surface, whether for a few minutes or a couple of hours, can be uncomfortable. Prolonged periods of underbelly maintenance can even leave your back sore for days, and that’s something you’d rather avoid. A creeper should help you steer clear of that scenario in more ways than one. It offers excellent back support and also maximizes back comfort. You no longer have to worry about hard, rough, or uneven surfaces hindering your task performance.
How To Choose a Mechanic’s Creeper
As implied previously, not all creepers are created equal. Thus, you’ll have to go over some key factors to select a model that meets your work specifications, and they are:
How useful a creeper is will depend on its backboard. If you get this right, you’ll find the tool to be of use, at the very least. The backboard is responsible for minimizing the stress and pressure applied to your back. Basic creepers tend to come with thin-plywood backboards, which should be good enough for minimal underbelly maintenance, but not more than that. If you find yourself “going under” more than usual, a thin-plywood build quality won’t suffice. Not only won’t it be comfortable, but it could eventually give hours of pressure. For heavy-duty underside maintenance work, a reinforced model is more effective and comfortable. Then again, you can also purchase comfort enhancements to improve the build quality of a basic model. Lastly, in a padded creeper, make sure the padding is oil- and chemical-resistant to prevent stain formation and chemical damage.
Height and Clearance
Without an overhead vehicle lift, it’s imperative to consider your creeper’s workspace and clearance limitations. These aspects can differ, depending on the type of creeper you choose. A model with recessed wheels, for instance, maximizes free space by bringing you closer to the ground. Thus, you’d be able to move around and use your tools more freely.
A creeper’s wheels aren’t just for movement; they’re for comfort and performance, too. Choose wrongly on this aspect, and you could find yourself in for some very rough or slow rides. However, when you choose correctly or go for the safe all-around option in ball-bearing wheels, your rides should be more comfortable and reliable.
Keep a Creeper in Your Garage
If you prefer bringing your car to the shop for maintenance work, that’s perfectly fine. Chances are, you won’t need a creeper in your life. That said, should you find yourself wanting to perform minimal underbelly tasks to save money, securing a creeper can make things a lot easier. A basic version should be good enough for simple projects, but get an all-around unit for specific tasks that take at least an hour to complete. A mechanic’s creeper is an invaluable tool that can make automotive work easier and more comfortable. Make sure to have a place for one in your garage; after all, you never know when you might need it.