[Guide] Car Jack – Different Types, Usage, & Safety Tips

07 Feb.,2023


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The abundance of knowledge on the internet has made us really independent, with many people solving their issues with DIY solutions. In today’s age, we can find car spare parts and tools in any shop, with car owners experimenting to understand their vehicle better. Of course, as these DIY methods grow, it is essential to address the efficient way of doing the task. After all, your car is a piece of complicated machinery and needs to be handled that way!

In this article, we are presenting a small car jack guide that will help you understand the tool better, and at the same time, help you perform the task ideally.

One of the most obvious reasons people use a car jack is to change a tyre. But the truth is, if you want to access any car parts tucked underneath, you are going to need a car jack. Car jack lifts the vehicle so that you can have an unobstructed view of what is going on beneath the body. Having a Car Jack in your garage always comes in handy, no matter if you’re an ace mechanic, a novice with automobiles or simply a curious person who is interested in the world beneath the car body.

Before you understand how to use a car jack, you must know the different types of jacks available. Let’s take a look at the different kinds so that you can pick the right one.

The Mechanism of Car Jacks – How does Car jack work?

There are two basic types of car jacks – let’s take a look below.

Mechanical Jacks

Mechanical Jacks, as the name suggests, makes use of pure mechanical methods to lift the car. These kinds of car jacks may involve using a screw to raise or a ratcheting system to lift the vehicle slowly.

Mechanical Jack examples include the scissor jack and high lift jack – which we will be discussing in detail.

Hydraulic Jacks

Hydraulic Jack makes use of a horizontally or vertically positioned hydraulic cylinder to lift large objects. The hydraulic system makes use of the fact that liquids don’t compress easily. Hydraulic Jacks have a reservoir full of oil, where the pressure pushes the cylinder up. Once the oil flows back into the reservoir, the jack will compress.

Hydraulic Jacks include bottle jacks and floor jacks.

| Also Read: Car Tyre Pressure – A Detailed Guide on Tyre Pressure |

The Different Types of Car Jacks

Hydraulic Bottle Jack

Bottle Jacks are one of the most common and versatile kinds available on the market. To operate, you need to pump the handle up and down, and the hydraulic bottle jack lifts the heaviest vehicle without much effort.

These are fairly compact and available in various lift capacities ranging from 2-12 tons (ideal for vehicles) to jumbo sizes(20+ tons) and even 100 tons. Its modest size makes it very convenient for garage storage, and its simplicity of usage allows even the most novice car owners to use it.

For extra stability, you can opt for models that have a wide base.

Scissor Jack

Scissor Jack is probably what you have in your garage if you have never upgraded the tools. It is the most common and oldest style of car jacks and resembles the make of scissor arms. Hence, the name. They mostly come along with the cars and spare tyre. Make sure you check your trunk before going out to buy a new one.

Using the screw that connects the two sides, you can either open or close the joints that raise or lower the saddle. Apart from being extremely simple to use, scissor jacks take up a minor space in your garage and are incredibly lightweight and portable.

Unlike the hydraulic jacks, there is no worry of fluid leakage, replacement, and they demand minimal maintenance.

Floor Jack

You have probably seen a floor jack in car movies or shows, where they bring out a device with wheels and conveniently place it in position. It has long arms that make it easy to be moved around. Once placed underneath the vehicle, the long handle makes it easy to lift and lower swiftly.

Floor Jack and Trolley Jack are pretty similar, with the major difference being in their lifting capacities. Trolley Jacks are more suited for low-profile minimum height vehicles like sport and luxury cars. On the other hand, there might be some differences in the construction and internal components. For example, Floor jacks are more portable and lightweight, whereas a trolley jack is constructed with steel and release spring.

A Jack with wheels is probably one of the coolest devices you can have in the garage, and they make lifting the cars a handy task. No stooping down and breaking your back.

High Lift Jack

High Lift Jack is not designed for every vehicle and everyday use. It is only when you need the maximum lift, especially for off-roaders and trailer owners. They are not something you find in every garage.

A word of caution; high lift jacks have a tiny footplate that makes them very unsteady. To avoid any incidents, make sure you use the high lift jack with complete care and caution, or let someone professional handle it. To put it simply, you don’t need a high lift car jack if you are not an off-roader.

Before we move on to carjack use, let’s clear the confusion between Hi-Lift and High Lift Jacks. Hi-Lift is a brand of high-lift jack, not another type of car jack. All Hi-Lift jacks are high-lift jacks, but not all high-lift jacks are Hi-Lift jacks.

| Also Read: Squeaky Car Brakes: How to Stop Car Brakes from Squeaking? |

How to use a Car Jack?

It is very easy to use a car jack once you understand how it functions. In this section, we will be looking at how to use floor and scissor jacks. In both cases, ensure your car is in the first gear with the handbrake, or the parking gear, in the case of automatic cars.

Here’s a little guide on how to jack up a car.

Floor Jacks – How to use them?

  1. Before you place the jack, it is essential to locate the safe lifts points. These are the sturdiest part of the vehicle’s chassis and are usually in the front or behind the wheel arches. However, to locate the precise point, you can look at the owner’s manual or ask your trusted service centre.
  2. Once you know where the safe lift points are, place the jack under it. Ensure that the base place is directly below the sill of the frame.
  3. Start by pumping the adjustment arm until the base plate reaches the car. Align properly, warranting that the weight is evenly distributed.
  4. Continue step three, until the car is off the ground to the required position.
  5. When it is time to bring the vehicle back – move the height adjustment arm to its vertical position and twist it. The air release in the pump will slowly lower the car to the ground.

Scissors Jacks – How to use them?

  1. As mentioned above, it is very crucial to locate the car’s safe lift point. It becomes even more essential with the scissor jacks as they are used at specific points on the chassis. The base plates fit efficiently into the grooves on the vehicle’s undercarriage.
  2. Once you place the jack in the correct place, slide on the handle and twist in the direction marked “R”. Remember to be slow and steady to ensure an even and aligned lift.
  3. It is a good habit to remove the handle once the car is fully raised. It reduces the chance of getting knocked over.
  4. To bring the vehicle back to its original position, turn the handle in the direction marked “L” until you reach the ground.

| Also Read: Car Suspension Explained – How does it work? |

Car Jack Stands – How to use them?

Car Jack Stands are pretty essential, especially if you’re planning to work under the car for a long time. Many people also use a jack stand while storing a classic car. The idea behind it is to prevent the tyre from getting warped.

Here’s how you can use the jack stands:

  1. Use the instructions above, and locate the safe lift point. Utilize the car jack to lift the front section of the car.
  2. Once the front wheels are off the ground, place the jack stands on the lift points on each side. Lower the car until it is safely weighed on the jack stands.
  3. Repeat the above step with the rear wheels. And you have a vehicle that is completely off the ground.
  4. When it is time to lower the car back down, raise the car with the jack, and remove the stands. Bring it back to the ground once the stands have been removed.

Essential Jack Safety Precautions & Tips

  • Make sure you use a car jack only when trying to lift the vehicle off the ground, not to hold it in place for a long while.
  • Always use a jack stand when you are working underneath the vehicle. Using only a car jack is not enough, and many people have been crushed under the vehicle. A car jack is only secure when changing a wheel.
  • Never jack up a car without blocking the wheels. You can use bricks, wedges, or chocks to block the wheels on the side where the car isn’t raised.
  • If you’re not aware of the safe lift points, go online and figure it out. Never jack a car if you’re unsure about the safety areas.
  • Place the car in the Park in the First gear, and use the handbrake before you jack up the vehicle. It reduces the risk of rolling.
  • Make sure the jack and jack stands you choose are suitable for the weight of your car.
  • Avoid changing a tyre on a freeway or highway. Opt for road service or wait for the highway patrol.
  • It is essential to park a vehicle on level ground before you jack it up. Use a car jack on a flat, level surface.

You know the different types of car jacks and how to use them, and you are aware of the safety precautions one needs to follow. This brings us to the end of our car jack guide. Hope you found this helpful and informative.

If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to comment below.

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