Safety, Strength And Convenience Is What It’s All About
A simple scissor jack may be great for emergency situations, but if you’re a car enthusiast you’ll definitely need a strong floor jack to safely lift your vehicle up before working on it. Not only can scissor jacks be frustrating, but they can compromise your safety as they are not designed to hold massive amounts of weight for prolonged periods of time. You can purchase a good floor jack for as cheap as $50, or if you’re willing to go for the best of the best you can pick up our top unit for around $400. To avoid being squashed by your own car when you change your oil you should pick one of our top 9 best automotive floor jacks which won’t let you down!
Best Automotive Floor Jacks
|Picture||Jack Model||Weight Capacity||Price||Our Rating|
|Hein-Werner HW93652 Blue Heavy Duty Service Jack||3 Tons||$$$||5|
|Arcan XL2T Black Low Profile Steel Service Jack||2 Tons||$$||5|
|JEGS Performance Products 80006 Professional Low-Profile Aluminum Floor Jack||2 Tons||$$||4.9|
|Pro-Lift G-737 Grey Speedy Lift Garage Jack||3.5 Tons||$$||4.8|
|Powerzone 380044 Aluminum and Steel Garage Jack||3 Tons||$$||4.8|
|Pittsburgh Automotive Heavy Duty Floor Jack||4 Tons||$$$||4.7|
|Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack||3 Tons||$$$||4.6|
|Torin T83002 Pro Series Heavy Duty Floor Jack||3 Tons||$||4.5|
|Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack||2 Tons||$||4.5|
- Hein-Werner HW93652 Blue Heavy Duty Service Jack
- Arcan XL2T Black Low Profile Steel Service Jack
- JEGS Performance Products 80006 Professional Low-Profile Aluminum Floor Jack
- Pro-Lift G-737 Grey Speedy Lift Garage Jack – 3-1/2 Ton Capacity
- Powerzone 380044 3 Ton Aluminum and Steel Garage Jack
- Pittsburgh Automotive 4 Ton Heavy Duty Floor Jack
- Arcan ALJ3T 3 Ton Floor Jack
- Torin T83002 Pro Series Heavy Duty 3 ton Floor Jack
- Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack – 2 Ton Capacity
- Can Floor Jacks Be Repaired?
- How Long Do Floor Jacks Last?
Guide To Buying A Floor Jack
If you are planning to do some work underneath your car, change a tyre or even spray down your wheels, you’re going to need a floor jack to prop up your vehicle. Finding the right floor jack for the right car is important – does your car have a low profile, is it heavier than 3 tons, do you need any accessories to safely work under your vehicle? These factors can significantly change your needs, but we have everything you need to know before choosing your own great floor jack in 2016.
What are floor jacks?
Floor jacks are used to lift up a vehicle before doing work on it. They make use of hydraulic power to raise a vehicle safely, after which they can be kept stable with jack stands for prolonged periods of work. There are three major categories of jack that you will find on the market: they are the mechanical jack, the hydraulic jack and the pneumatic jack. Some are more powerful than others, but this often comes with a price adjustment. Most of the stock tools you are provided with when you purchase your car are mechanical because they are the easiest to mass produce, but these jacks do not have safety valves or bypass valves which could save your life if a malfunction occurs. If you want a really safe and reliable jack you should be looking to buy a hydraulic one, like the ones in the list we’ve given above. Below we’ve outlined the different technologies used in jacks, and how they work.
Mechanical – The most common jacks are mechanical scissor jacks, which you will find in almost every car. The mechanical jack works similarly to a screw, and places the pressure of the lift on a mechanical arm that is raised up by the turning of a crank. The largest mechanical jacks are used to lift houses or prop up buildings that may be collapsing, and the bigger they are the stronger they can get. One of the issues with the mechanical jack is that it will not have a failsafe if it breaks, and you will have no time to get out from underneath the car you are working on.
Hydraulic – These jacks are powered by pressure created from hydraulic liquid. The valve in a hydraulic jack fills up with liquid that can’t be compressed, and this raises a mechanical lifting arm which stays exactly at the level of the hydraulic fluid until you decide to release the pressure. This technology is great because it can have bypass and safety valves on standby in-case the load suddenly increases or some sort of mechanical fault happens. The addition of hydraulic power to the traditional mechanical jack makes it a far safer and more efficient product to use. Almost all floor jacks are hydraulic and require some hand-pump effort, but they will be much easier to pump than any ordinary mechanical jack.
Pneumatic – These are air powered jacks, which work by increasing air pressure in a closed valve. Similarly to hydraulic jacks, the pneumatic jack will be more powerful and easier to use than a mechanical jack, but it will require pump, electrical power or gas bottles to work. The pneumatic jack requires the least effort of all the jacks, but they are not as popular and will often be quite pricey due to the replacements of the gas bottles. The pneumatic jack will also come with safety features like bypass and backup valves which will kick in if the load becomes too heavy for the jack to handle.
On top of the difference in the lifting arm technology itself, floor jacks can either be regular profile or low profile. The low profile jacks are designed to fit underneath really low-riding cars, such as modified dropped suspension vehicles or sports cars. A low profile jack is also great for reaching difficult strong points underneath something like a SUV which has a low hanging undercarriage.
Can Floor Jacks Be Repaired?
Yes, floor jacks can be repaired, but we recommend that you take a while to learn the procedures for the most common repairs before attempting them. One of the most common things that can happen to a hydraulic jack is that air may seep in to the hydraulic fluid and make the valve unable to create the right amount of pressure in order to lift the arm of the jack. Another less common problem could be that your handle spring has seized, stopping the piston from effectively moving the way it should. Attempting a repair on a hydraulic system should be done with caution, but there are many tutorials that you could find to help out. Here are two basic fixes for floor jacks:
Refreshing the hydraulic system:
When there is air in the hydraulic system the handle will not pump up the lifting arm no matter how hard you try. This is the easiest fix, because it only requires the opening of a single cap on your jack. There should be a visible tightened screw on the top of the body of your jack, and depending on which model you have there could be another screw covered with a sticker that reads “safety” or “emergency valve”. You should only interact with the plain un-labelled valve, as this is where the main hydraulic system is. When you open the valve you may notice that the liquid is not filled right to the top, which indicates that air has seeped into your system, so you will need to top up the hydraulic fluid. You should purchase hydraulic fluid specifically for jacks, however, as motor oil or brake fluid might have compounds in them that could eat away at the rubber seals on the piston or elsewhere. Once you have topped up the fluid, close up the valve and give the jack a few pumps to see if anything has improved. Repeat this process until there is no air bubbling up to the top of the valve. Make sure to tighten the valve cap very securely once you have completed the repair, as a loose valve cap will let more air into your system.
Fixing a Handle Spring / Piston Sieze:
This is a bit more difficult and may require two people to successfully complete, but another way that the jack can fail is in the spring mechanism which pushes the piston into the hydraulic system. If the spring can’t create pressure when you push down the handle, no hydraulic fluid will enter the chamber, and no lift is going to happen. The first thing you need to do is to drain the hydraulic fluid so that you don’t end up spilling it when you check the piston. Once you have done this you will remove the handle, then remove the ram or main hydraulic system from the body. From here you will need to remove the snap rings, and try to access the spring itself so that you can release it and clean both the spring and the piston.
We recommend taking a quick tutorial before trying any repairs, as they can be quite confusing to get just right. If you are not confident in your ability to perform a repair, rather look for workshop or a friend who will guide you through the process. It is sometimes better to repair a jack than spend another $200 on a brand new unit, but it is even better to buy a great quality jack in the first place so that you’re less likely to need a repair!
How Long Do Floor Jacks Last?
Every one of these floor jacks are made to last many years, but with the right quality and maintenance you could be looking at a good decade’s worth of lifting from the top of our list. One of the major factors in the lifespan of a mechanical or hydraulic system is the frequency of use: you will need to consider how often you will need to use the jack. Another factor is the weight of the load, which will determine how much strain is put on the system when you use the jack. You might be straining a smaller jack by lifting a really heavy truck, which could lead to complications in the hydraulic system much earlier than you would expect. Here are some of the average weights of different vehicles so that you can make up your mind which jack is the best fit for you:
Small Car – 1.34 Tons
Cars like the Ford Focus, the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Matrix would fall into this category.
Medium Car – 1.59 Tons
This category includes the likes of the Toyota Avalon, Audi A6 and the Nissan Maxima.
Large Car – 1.98 Tons
Here we are on to the likes of the Ford Taurus, the Dodge Durango, Porsche Panamera and the Chrysler Town and Country.
Small SUV / Truck – 1.57 Tons
Starting at the smaller range we have SUVs like the Ford Escape, Ford EcoSport, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV 4.
Medium SUV / Truck – 1.93 Tons
The slightly larger trucks and SUVs can be typified by vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, BMW X4, Audi Q5 or the slightly heavier Dodge Durango.
Large SUV / Truck – 2.46 Tons
The biggest vehicles are the nearly 2.5 ton trucks, such as the Mercedes G Class, the Land Rover Range Rover or the Ford F-150. The Hummer H1 Alpha Wagon would fit in this category too, but it hits the ceiling weighing in at just over 3 tons. Larger commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks and 18-wheelers are in a whole category of their own.
We would recommend purchasing a jack that is at least 0.5 tons stronger than the weight it needs to lift, as you might add extra weight to the vehicle without necessarily noticing it – for example if you have recently gone on holiday and have left most of your things in the car you would be looking at a heavier weight than usual. Buying a jack that can lift more than needed will prevent you from over-working it, and extend the lifespan of your purchase. Bear in mind that these items will come with varying guarantees, and you would not be covered for any failures that occur from lifting excessively heavy loads.
You may also need some accessories to successfully make use of your floor jack such as a set of jack stands, which will hold up your vehicle once you have propped it up. If you are working on cars often you may already have a jack stand, but these are not standard issue when you buy a car. You might want to buy yourself a set of four stands if you intend to do work across the whole undercarriage of the car, because it is always more stable to keep the weight of the car distributed evenly. Jack stands do this work for you, so that your floor jack doesn’t have to take the strain for more than a few minutes at a time.
You should also make sure that you know which points underneath your car are best for lifting, as you can damage your wheel alignment, fuel tank or even punch a hole through your car floor if you aren’t careful. Often cars will have strong joints or tow hooks which are already designed to take the weight of the vehicle, and these are great places to place the jack’s lifting arm. Below we have found a fantastic tutorial by Eric The Car Guy which will take you through the process.
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