Auto repair, whether DIY or professional, can be a dirty and dangerous business. Every time you go under the hood or under the car, you’re sure to come out the other end of the job with a new layer of grease—and maybe a nick or two. Still, just because that’s “normal” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a pair of work gloves to keep your hands as clean as possible. It so happens that proper work gloves protect you from a lot more than just dirt.
With a good pair of gloves, cleanup is much simpler: remove the gloves and the dirt stays with them. You may also need to handle other items between parts of a job, and it’s easier to remove gloves than to fully degrease your hands. Keeping yourself and the rest of your vehicle clean is the most obvious reason to put on a pair of gloves. But there are also more important reasons you should wear the right work gloves when working on your car.
Abrasion and cut resistance
Mechanics encounter lots of sharp edges and rough surfaces when working on cars, which is why you should probably also have a first-aid kit in your toolbox! Prevention is always the ideal approach. Utility gloves add an extra layer of protection between you and whatever you’re working on. They also help you keep your grip when car parts or hand tools are oily, grimy, or dusty.
Protecting your skin from harmful chemicals is another important reason to wear gloves. Engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and coolant aren’t particularly great for your skin. Other automotive chemicals, such as brake cleaner, parts cleaner, or engine degreaser, also irritate your skin. Latex and nitrile gloves are inexpensive, disposable protection against most automotive chemicals. If you’re allergic to latex, nitrile gloves are the way to go. Nitrile gloves also tend to last longer than latex gloves.
Hard surfaces are another thing your car has in spades. Ramming your knuckles or jamming your hand between a tool and a control arm or brake caliper just isn’t pleasant. Impact-resistant gloves usually have thick padding or rubber bumpers to absorb some of the blow. They’re usually made so you can still use your fingertips for fine work, like threading on lug nuts or caliper bolts.
Let’s face it: sometimes you have to work on your car even when it’s more than a little chilly. Some work gloves offer basic protection against the cold with a layer of insulation. These usually don’t allow you to do fine fingertip work, but they can make changing a flat tire slightly more comfortable.
Now that we’ve covered a few of the benefits of wearing work gloves, it’s clear that no single pair of gloves could possibly offer them all. Professional mechanics have multiple pairs of gloves for just this reason. Taking off tires and working on brakes are jobs best tackled with utility or impact gloves, which last a long time. When it comes to bleeding brakes or changing oil, however, disposable latex or nitrile gloves offer quick and cheap protection. Watch as Chris Robinson explains these and other important, “handy” tips in the video below.