If you are a home mechanic or you need to change your tire, you want to know how to use a floor jack the safe way. After all, many deaths and injuries occur each year because of floor jack accidents. In this guide, we cover how to use floor jacks safely.
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Why Should You Own A Floor Jack? (Overview & Benefits Explained)
The floor jack is an essential automotive tool that should be in every shop, whether it’s at home or in a professional setting. Even if you have a lift for cars, the average floor jack can still be beneficial. With the floor jack, you can quickly lift up one section of the car to get to the underside or tires.
Most floor jacks use a hydraulic system that helps to pump up the lift and hold the car. In conjunction with the floor jack, you should secure the vehicle on jack stands because the hydraulic lift can leak down or fail, leading to a higher chance of injury.
Instead of having multiple floor jacks for a variety of different vehicle sizes, it's best to purchase one that's equipped for the largest. Plus, there are other types of jacks your garage could use that operate with much the same system but for a different purpose. Consider further investigating the transmission jack, bottle jacks, and a Hi-Lift jack.
How To Use & Operate A Floor Jack? (Step-By-Step Guide)
Learning how to use a floor jack on a car isn’t too much different from figuring out how to use a floor transmission jack. Start by reading the owner’s manual of your jack. You can also follow these generic recommendations, but don’t veer from what the manufacturer recommends if the guidance differs.
- 1Park on solid, flat ground.
- 2Engage your parking brake and put wheel chocks behind the tires that will remain on the ground.
- 3Put your jack into position. Look for the jacking points set by the automaker.
- 4Prepare your jack stands so they are ready to slide under.
- 5Examine the floor jack to make sure there are no defects. If it’s leaking or broken in any way, you shouldn’t use it.
- 6Put the handle into the jack receptacle.
- 7Direct the floor jack under the vehicle to the appropriate location with the use of the handle.
- 8Pump the handle, so the saddle moves up. As it gets closer to the vehicle jacking point, make sure it’s lined up. If you need to make adjustments, do it now.
- 9Continue lifting the vehicle to its appropriate height.
- 10Put the jack stands under the chosen points and slowly lower the car onto the stands. Do this slowly by turning the handle of the jack carefully.
- 11Once the weight is rested on the stand, you can lower the jack and remove it.
- 12After you’ve finished working on the car, put the jack back under and raise the vehicle off of the stands.
- 13Remove the jack stands carefully and put them aside.
- 14Slowly bring the car back down to the ground. If you allow the descent to occur too quickly, you could damage the vehicle.
While you should never leave the car sitting on a floor jack without stands, you can do the opposite. It would be okay to keep the floor jack under the car with the jack stands in place. However, the floor jack could get in your way, making the job more difficult.
Are Floor Jacks Safe? (Extra Precaution & Tips To Consider)
Floor jacks can be safe if you maintain them and use them properly. Otherwise, this tool can be very dangerous, making it possible to get trapped or killed underneath your car. That’s why you should always follow these five safety tips when working with your floor jack.
- 1Choose an appropriate floor jack for your vehicle size. It should be able to lift ¾ of the vehicle’s weight.
- 2Don’t put plywood or bricks on the jack to make it work. You should never makeshift an extension.
- 3Only use the floor jack on a level surface. It shouldn’t be used on an incline.
- 4Only lift the car from its specified jack points. This information can be found in the service manual.
- 5The floor jack is not meant to hold the vehicle while you work on it. Instead, you must put the car on jack stands for support.
Frequently Asked Floor Jack Questions
What kind of oil does a floor jack use?
You want to use hydraulic fluid that is SAE 10 weight oil with an ISO rating of 22. Can I use motor oil in my floor jack? No, you should only use the special hydraulic oil.
How much weight can a floor jack hold?
It depends on the rating of the floor jack. If it’s a 2-ton floor jack, it’s meant to hold up to 4,000 pounds. In comparison, the 3-ton floor jack is rated for up to 6,000 pounds.
How long can a floor jack hold a car?
The car should never hold up the vehicle by itself. It’s meant to lift the vehicle high enough so you can get the jack stands underneath for a secure hold.
Is it safe to put a car on 4 jack stands?
Having four jack stands under the car is a great way to ensure protection, but it’s not completely foolproof. Jack stands can fail, especially when they aren’t used right, so you should always be careful.
With an understanding of how to use a hydraulic floor jack and how to lower a floor jack, you have all of the tips needed to work on your vehicle. Just make sure you follow all of the safety precautions, so you can get out from below the car when the job is over.