Can You Work on a Car in a Storage Unit? (Storage Unit Laws)

Wanting to work on your car but not having adequate space to do it can be frustrating. Perhaps you’re in a zone where you’re not allowed to do minor repairs on your garage, or you simply don’t have a garage. Storage units seem to be the next possible option, but can you work on a car in a storage unit?

Whether you can or can’t work on your car while renting a storage unit space will depend on the manager of that storage unit. Some storage companies will allow you, but others won’t. However, you could consider searching for a rentable garage instead.

There are some general concerns regarding storage units as a space to work on cars. Therefore, we decided to take on the challenge of figuring out why storage units are so desirable, the basic laws surrounding them, and under what conditions you can use one to store your car.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

You can work on your car inside a storage unit if the staff allows it, but this isn’t always possible. This is why you must look for all the options available to you. For example, you could ask a friend to lend you their garage or look for one you can rent.

In either case, you must ensure that you have the right tools before proceeding. Not having the tools to do it is detrimental to you, whether it be minor or major repairs. This is why we believe you’ll need these:

1. Socket Wrench SetEvery mechanic recommends that car owners have this tool for repairs.

2. Professional Tool Kit Don’t waste your time trying to figure out the right tools. This set includes everything you need and more.

3. Safety GogglesDon’t underestimate the need for protection. You’ll be exposed to hazardous, chemical-based products. So, use these goggles to keep your eyes safe!

General Questions

Storage units have a lot of regulations, but many speak more about the rental agreement procedures rather than the car itself.

Yet, there are some liabilities they can be concerned about, which is why we will discuss them in this section.

Can I Work on a Car in a Storage Unit?

If the storage unit manager has no problem with it, you can work on your car in a storage unit. You should refrain from working on major repairs and keep things as neat as possible. Unfortunately, many storage units forbid this due to liability issues.

Therefore, you should consult with one of the staff members who help rent storage units before arriving.

And if you can’t find any storage unit company that allows you, try to see if you can go to a parking lot in an auto parts shop.

Are There Storage Units That Allow Working On Cars?

Some storage units allow working on cars, but they are scarce because of the liability concerns most storage unit companies have. They could have legal issues if something significant happened due to negligence while repairing your vehicle.

No storage company wants trouble arising from you working on your car, so they forbid it. Likewise, most general storage unit guidelines have strict protocols you should follow to avoid damaging your vehicle.

For example, some can require you to drain your vehicle’s fuel and even the oil before storing it.

Can You Rent Space to Work on Your Car?

You can rent a space to work on your car through a peer-to-peer garage rental, a DIY garage, or a storage unit that allows you to work on your car. Depending on your area, some of these options may be more or less accessible.

Peer-to-peer garage rentals are relatively new but are increasing in popularity. In short, a person puts their garage to rent for an amount of money per hour to let them work on their car.

Some neighborhoods have joined together to promote this practice due to its convenience.

Last but not least, you can see if there is a storage unit company willing to allow you to let you work on your car. However, they accept minor repairs only, so you should do major repairs elsewhere.

Also, remember that you need your own tools for all rental options, as they may not provide them.

Can You Use a Storage Unit as a Workshop?

Depending on your plan, you can use a storage unit as a workshop or garage space for any function you desire, although repairing cars is limited. With that being said, you could turn the storage unit into a gym or studio.

Of course, although this is possible and you are legally allowed to do it, know that this could be different per company. 

You may want to know about the code of ordinances regarding storage units in your area and follow the company’s rules to avoid any possible issues arising.

How Big of a Storage Unit Do I Need to Work on a Car?

The size of the storage unit you need to work on your car depends on the length and width of your car, which usually gives out a total of 20’ deep. A regular vehicle storage unit can range from 14’ deep to 20’, depending on the size of your vehicle.

Technically, a vehicle storage unit is the same size as a garage space or warehouse, so you can feel confident about using that space to work on your car.

However, choosing a space bigger than your car’s size is better for better handiness.

You might also enjoy our post on If it is Illegal to Leave Your Car on Jack Stands

Vehicle Storage Units

We’ve heard all about regular storage units, but did you know that there are specific ones made to store vehicles?

In addition, due to the nature of their work, they impose even stricter regulations within their guidelines. So, let’s discuss the vehicle storage units below.

What Is a Vehicle Storage Unit?

A vehicle storage unit is a type of unit designed to store your car for a long or short-term timeframe, and they’re usually shaped and constructed like a regular home garage. However, diverse companies build them with different sizes to fit most car models.

These units can help you in times of distress. For example, if your house is going through a home renovation, a vehicle storage unit is convenient because you can keep your car safe from all the havoc these renovations can cause.

There are outdoor units and indoor units. If you choose outdoor, you can give it more protection with a car cover you can find anywhere online.

It can also help you store multiple vehicles if you live in an area ruled by a Home Owner’s Association, which typically does not allow you to have more than one or two vehicles in one residential lot.

How Do Vehicle Storage Units Work?

A vehicle storage unit works like a regular storage unit; the big difference is that it’s for storing your car instead of furniture items. The company will ask for your vehicle’s information to proceed with the rental.

After proceeding with the rental, you will be asked to pay hourly, weekly, or monthly rates, depending on how long you plan to store your car.

Normally, storage unit prices range from $45 to $450 a month, so you must have a solid budget.

What Are the Rules for Vehicle Storage Units?

Although the rules of vehicle storage units vary depending on the company, there are some common rules to follow.  For example, you may need to show proof of car insurance and have your car in operable condition before renting the unit.

However, there are other rules you must pay attention to. Here they are:

  • Storage unit companies will require that your car has operational wheels. This means they have to be in good condition and cannot be broken or flat.
  • Although it seems obvious, the storage unit requires you to drive the car to the unit. Likely, they won’t do it for you.
  • Also, cars cannot be towed or stored on top of blocks. This means that the entire car has to be in good working order and out of trouble.
  • If you’re storing an RV or a boat, know that most companies will ask that they have their respective license plate for better identification.
  • Don’t wait until your car’s tag expires. Instead, renew them if they are soon-to-be expired, lest it causes issues with the storage unit.
  • Your vehicle should be drained of fuel, as much as possible, before it reaches the storage unit.

Can You Work on a Car in a Vehicle Storage Unit?

You could work on your car if it’s inside a storage unit, but it will depend on the storage unit manager’s permission. Often, storage unit companies will only allow you to do minor repairs, as bigger repairs could be complicated and risk liability.

Many storage unit companies care about liability issues because it could represent a higher cost or a huge loss.

Therefore, when they put their rules, they are trying to save you and themselves from a potential lawsuit if anything were to arise.

Are Vehicle Storage Units Big Enough to Work on Your Car in Them?

The size of vehicle storage units is sufficient to let you work on your car without much trouble since their size ranges from 14’ to 20’, the average size of a garage in a typical neighborhood. Thus, working on your car inside them should be fine.

Normally, the size of the storage unit you choose depends on your car’s size. Most standard-sized cars are about 18’ in length and 6’ in width.

Thus, working on your car inside the unit shouldn’t be a cause for concern if you choose the right size.

Solutions to Work on My Car

Of course, sometimes renting a storage unit is impossible, which is why you’ll need to consider other options.

Perhaps you’re entirely new to car repair, so you need an extra hand to understand what you’re getting into. Let’s talk about it.

How Can I Work on My Car?

If you’re new to car repair, you can start working on your car by searching for the right instructions on the web. Manuals and videos will be your best friend before you begin your journey into understanding vehicles in-depth.

Likewise, you should be aware of the tools you need for the process. Without the right ones, you’ll likely tackle a complicated job and could even be frustrated when results are not as you expect. Thus, patience is key.

Here are the tools you need to begin working on your car:

Where Am I Allowed to Work on My Car?

You can work on your car at your home (so long as you follow city protocol), in a rented garage, in a parking lot, and sometimes on the side of the road. The latter, however, is dangerous and should only be considered in an emergency.

Most places will require you to do major work inside the garage, out of plain sight, to avoid disturbing other people or harming them with the chemicals most car products contain.

This also applies to work that takes more than 72 hours in most states.

Can I Work on My Car on the Road?

You can work on your car on the road only when your vehicle is inoperable and you need to park to the side to fix the problem. However, there are safety concerns you must consider to avoid accidents.

For example, if you are driving and suddenly you get a flat tire, you should park it on the shoulder of a highway or the side of the road to get away from traffic as quickly as possible.

You should also turn on the emergency lights of your vehicle to warn others.

How Do You Service Your Own Car Without a Garage or Driveway?

You can service your car without a garage or driveway by renting a garage belonging to a homeowner or a DIY auto shop. The latter is more convenient because there are mechanics that could assist you with your car.

If you’re already a mechanic guru with the tools but struggling to get a decent space to fix your car, you may search your neighborhood and see if anyone is renting their garage.

Of course, the rate and time will depend on the person, but doing this is long-term beneficial.

Where Is the Best Place to Wrench on Your Car if You Don’t Have a Garage?


The best place to wrench your car if you don’t have a garage is in a rented space, a storage unit, a DIY garage, or a neighbor’s garage. You can ask around your neighborhood to determine where they are located and how much they cost to rent.

However, ensure that you have the right tools before renting space since most of these places won’t always provide them for you.

For example, you may need a wrench, a screwdriver, and other mechanical tools.

Related Questions

Why Can’t You Sleep in a Storage Unit?

You can’t sleep in a storage unit because it is not considered a habitable space, which normally contains necessities, such as a bathroom. In fact, it is even illegal to live in a storage unit due to this reason.

Habitable spaces are legally defined as a space with all the resources you need to keep yourself safe, healthy, and protected.

Since a storage unit does not provide these things, you’ll likely get harmed if you live in it. Therefore, it is not allowed. 

Is It Illegal to Work on Your Own Car in California?

It’s not illegal to work on your car in California, but the regulations make it almost impossible. Some of these regulations stipulate that you are allowed to do minor repairs on cars belonging to the members of the house.

The latter means that a person cannot lend someone their garage to help them repair theirs. And minor repairs only refer to work that won’t require much time or trouble—for example, adding oil to your engine or changing a tire.

Another thing that most ordinances in California mention are that you can’t use a tool that otherwise wouldn’t be found normally in a residential space.

This term isn’t widely defined, so if some liability arises, it could cause problems interpreting the law.

Can I Work on My Car in a Parking Lot?

You can work on your car in a parking lot authorized for you, whether at an auto repair shop, a parking lot within an apartment complex, or a local store. However, you cannot work on your car in a municipal parking lot.

Choosing an auto parts shop parking lot to work on your car is more convenient. Many of them may allow you without any problems, so long as the repairs are minor.

Some could even get to help you with the tools you need to work.

Final Thoughts

Renting a storage unit to fix your car is only possible if the manager of the said unit facility allows it, which is rare nowadays due to the increased hazards surrounding cars and their products.

Whenever a storage unit is not accessible, you can try searching for a rented garage space, whether a neighborhood garage or a DIY garage.

The latter is more convenient because you get to work closely with mechanics that can help you for extra cash.

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