There are many maintenance or repair jobs that require lifting a car. And although the operation is the most common, it is not without risk since a vehicle weighs … While traditional car jacks are fairly reliable, but you are never immune to failure. By paying a little attention you will probably have noticed that some vehicles awaiting repair in garages are placed on funny supports. These are usually auto car lift stands, and their use is not incidental. Here is a practical guide for you on how to use a car jack stands and a selection of the best models.
Car jack is a special device with usually a triangular shape and a tripod or square base. By design, it ensures perfect stability of the vehicle throughout the duration of the work. In reality, any professional garage owner or self-respecting auto mechanic should have one. The floor jack is indeed very practical for changing a wheel. But when it comes to carrying out work under the car, its sole use becomes less obvious. Combined with the jack, the use of a car jack stands to make lifting more secure and makes it easier to carry out work under the vehicle.
We know all the traditional hydraulic jack and crank jacks as well as the workshop crane. We cannot speak of car lifting without these tools which we no longer present. Tools beside which the mention of jack stands could seem superfluous. But it is not.
Each of these tools has serious limitations. Although they have impressive lifting capacities, workshop cranes are more intended for lifting and handling vehicle components such as the engine block. They do not offer the supports and guarantees necessary to safely lift the entire structure.
As for the jack, it is not so much without the ability to lift the car that is the problem. It is not for nothing that all vehicles are equipped with it. It has most likely already saved more than one on a punctured wheel. One of the problems with the jack is the height at which it is able to raise the car. If its use is perfect for changing a wheel, it is much less if it is necessary to carry out work under the vehicle.
Aside from the height, the use of a jack in this type of situation also poses a safety problem. Although the tool itself is very reliable, it can be very dangerous to slip under a vehicle in this position. Auto jack stands then ensures the perfect stability of your car once it is raised.
It would, therefore, be ideal to have a lift, but this option is another twist. Already, a car lift is a fairly heavy investment, and the device itself requires space. This is where the car jack solution comes into its own. It makes it possible to secure the lifting and thus avoid an accident in the event of failure of the lifting tool. You or the mechanic can easily carry out work under the vehicle without having to worry about the reliability of the jack. The jack may drop or the oil in the jack may leak and it may gradually descend. Jack stands are therefore essential if you plan to work under the car.
The car jack is a safety device. It’s what will keep the car from falling on you while you’re under it. For your own physical integrity and that of the people who could use it, you should absolutely not tinker with it. Before proceeding with the actual lifting, be sure to install the car on a horizontal surface. To properly use a car jack, its base must be placed on a flat and stable surface. It would, therefore, be ideal to carry out the operation inside your garage, on asphalt or concrete. Otherwise, gravel or even a lawn will do the trick. But in this case, you will have to ensure the stability of the jack by installing a solid board under its base.
You must also ensure that the vehicle remains perfectly stationary. It must absolutely not rip or slip. So in case, the wheels have not been removed and they have remained on the ground, install chocks on all sides.
You should know that the floor jack stands do not land anywhere under the vehicle. In order to guarantee the integrity of the structure, it is essential to place them in specific locations. To do this, consult the car manual. The manufacturer has in fact the legal obligation to indicate the reinforced jack lifting points provided for this use.
In trade, car floor jacks are often found in pairs or individually. However, certain brands or models are also offered in sets of 4. The device generally consists of a pyramidal structure, the base of which is made up of 4 or 3 feet. Other models, on the other hand, have a cylindrical structure with a square or circular base.
The upper part of the device includes a cylindrical or square perforated rod and a safety pin at the end of a small chain. On some models, this central rod is not perforated. In these cases, the mechanism is called a rack jack which, once adjusted, is automatically secured by the weight of the car. The rod that slides in the central sheath to adjust the lifting height.
On the upper part of the perforated upper, there is a sole whose shape varies according to the models. This section is used to ensure contact with the vehicle to avoid any risk of slipping. Regarding the base of the instrument, it should be remembered that in principle a 4-legged stands will be much more stable than a 3-legged model.
In addition, each of the supports must necessarily bear an identification plate conforming to standard EN 1494. The maximum capacity must also be included. As far as heavy vehicles are concerned, the jack stands designed for them are special. Easily recognizable by their wingspan, these jacks are massive and have a rather unusual lifting height.
With proper maintenance, a car jack can be used for a very long time. The lifting capacities of existing models vary from 2 to 20 tonnes, and they are quite easy to find. They are generally made of steel or aluminum and some models are even foldable for easy transport.
Here are the different criteria for purchasing a car jack:
- The very first thing to consider when choosing a jack is non-negotiable. It’s about the quality of the device. A jack stands worthy of the name must weigh a certain weight. Experts generally recommend a minimum of 6 kilograms. The robustness of the jack will depend on the assurance that you will not see the installation collapse.
- Next comes the lifting capacity. Always make sure to allow yourself some leeway by never subjecting the jack to its maximum load. You don’t need to go to get a jack stand for a truck to lift a small car. In the case of a passenger vehicle, a capacity of 3 tonnes per lifting point will be more than sufficient.
- Regarding heavyweights, you will have to go to specific jack stands’ models. Reinforced and more massive, these jack stands are specially designed to provide the stability and security necessary to lift and maintain vehicles such as a van or truck. Some experts even recommend doubling the jacks per lifting point.
- When making your auto jack stands to purchase, you will mainly have to choose between the pin and rack models. Both are of course very reliable. But when it comes to ease of use, it’s the rack model that wins.
- The budget: it goes without saying that it is ultimately the element that will determine the type of car jack you can afford. There are of course a multitude of brands. But prices generally vary between $30 and $100 per pair or set of 4 for 3-ton car jack stands.
Although the jack is an accessory tool to traditional lifting equipment, its use is essential if you plan to slip under the vehicle for work. You’re never safe from a jack failure. For obvious safety reasons, you should never DIY or modify the structure of the floor jack yourself. It plays too important a role to allow a failure at this level.
When lifting the vehicle, the jack stands must always be placed on a flat and stable surface. Ideally your garage or a tarmac surface. If the wheels have remained on the ground, install chocks on both sides. Always take care to never subject the car jack to its maximum load. Some experts recommend using only 70% of its total capacity.