How to Choose the Best Floor Jack?

What’s the Best FLOOR JACK for Your Garage?

Having the right tools in your workshop is the key to ensuring that you are able to perform tasks in a relatively easy manner. A floor jack is one of the essential tools that you can have in your garage.

How to Choose the Best Floor Jack?

Definition of a Floor Jack:

Before getting into the details of the best floor jack, it is important to understand what it is. In simple terms; a floor jack is defined as a mechanical device, which is used to lift heavy loads to an advantage position. This is also referred to as a car jack or a garage jack and has a wide range of functions. However; in most cases, this will be used to lift automobiles so as to access the components that are beneath the vehicle.  There are different mechanisms used by floor jacks to facilitate the lifting, with most of them using lead screws and hydraulics.

Using a Floor Jack:

With the understanding of what a floor jack is, it is easier to discuss the various uses. In most cases, some of the repair and maintenance issues will require adequate ground clearance so as to access beneath the vehicle. Some of the common tasks that will require one to use a floor jack include changing oil, changing brake pads, suspension works, transmission works, and exhaust works among others. Besides lifting the car, floor jacks are also used to lift the motor so as to provide additional clearance within the engine bay.

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Different Types of Floor Jacks:

There are 3 main types of floor jacks on the market:

  • Hydraulic Floor Jack
  • Bottle Jack
  • Scissor Jack

✓ Hydraulic Floor Jack:

This is the most common type of floor jack and will be found in most auto shops. Most users gravitate towards this jack as a result of the convenience it uses. The hydraulic jack is commonly referred to as the trolley jack since has a trolley, wheels, and housing for the hydraulic cylinder. The cylinder will lower and the load in small intervals. The hydraulic jack comes with a detachable lever, which is pumped to activate the lifting mechanism.

This jack is easy to use and requires minimal effort to lift your vehicle to your preferred height. Hydraulic jacks have a high lift range and this allows you to lift the vehicle quite high. The wheels on the trolley enhance the stability of jack as it supports the vehicle. The only major drawback with hydraulic jacks is that they are expensive and quite heavy, making them less portable.

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✓ Bottle Jack:

Bottle or Piston best floor JackThe bottle jack is also known as the Piston jack and is operated throwing hydraulic pressure. It has two concentric cylinders which will trigger the lifting mechanism. The bottle jack works pretty much in the same manner as the hydraulic floor jack, with the compact size being a major advantage. The jack has a small footprint, which stabilizes the jack; even when you are working on uneven surfaces. One of the biggest challenges with the bottle jack is the fact that they have a very high free height. As such, you cannot use them on lowered cars and other vehicles with an average height.

As a result, you will commonly find these jacks being used for lifting trucks since there is adequate ground clearance. Bottle jacks are said to have the highest lifting capacity compared to other types of jacks.

✓ Scissor Jack:

Mechanical or Scissor JackThis is the default jack in most vehicles as it is provided by the vehicle manufacturer. These jacks are common with the main advantage being that they are smaller in size and require minimal storage space. In the event of a flat tire, you can use the jack to replace the tire with a lot of ease. They have a lead screw mechanism which will be used to lift the vehicle. The scissor jack has limitations in terms of the height and weight lifting capacity, due to their compact nature.

When using this jack; you will require a whole lot of physical effort to turn the lead screw. This jack is meant to facilitate a simple task like changing a flat tire and cannot be used for serious tasks that require lifting the engine bay and other parts of the vehicle. If you need a jack that you can move around with, then the scissor jack is the best option.

how to Safely Using the Floor Jack?

Personal safety is one of the critical considerations when using a floor jack. Here are some safety principles, which you should adhere to so as to ensure your safety when using a floor jack:

✓ Make use of Jack Stands:

Irrespective of the type of jack that you have, you should not trust it on itself. Always make sure that you have jack stands that will be used with the floor jack. The floor jack is a mechanical device and it is prone to malfunction at any time. Floor jacks that have been used for some time may accidentally fall when in use. The hydraulic jack tends to allow the car to fall slowly, which can be unnoticed and the person underneath may not have the time to escape.

A pair of jack stands will hold the vehicle in place, even if the floor jack fails. You should never go beneath your car until you have supported the car with jack stands. Do not rely on the floor jack since it can fail without notice.

✓ Place the Jack on Level Ground:

Place the Jack on Level GroundUnless there is a serious emergency, you should never use a floor jack on a surface which is not leveled. When you place a jack or jack stands on an uneven surface, there is a very high possibility of the jack slipping and causing damages and injuries. You should never make the mistake of trying to lift your car on a slanted terrain as it poses a serious risk.

✓ Use Slow Intervals to Raise and Lower the Vehicle:

While most modern floor jacks have the capacity to lift your car rapidly, you should make it a habit to lifted the car slowly and also lower, it’s in the same manner. This will allow you to notice any challenges and prevent a serious hazard from happening. Using slow and controlled movements will is advisable so as to ensure your overall safety.

✓ Use Specified Jacking Points on Your Car:

Use Specified Jacking Points on Your CarCars are designed in such a manner that there are specific places on the frame of the car; which can be used to support the car when being raised. When you look at the owner’s manual for the vehicle, you will find these points clearly outlined. There are some vehicle models that have these points clearly marked. You should not make attempts to lift your car unless you are sure of the location to use as the jacking point.

Things Should Be Considerations When Buying a Floor Jack?

There are a number of key considerations that you should bear in mind when shopping for a floor jack. Here are some pointers on what you should consider:

✓ Type of Vehicle to Use the Jack on:

When thinking about the type of the vehicle to use the jack on, the main consideration is ground clearance. Like mentioned earlier, if you have lowered vehicles, the bottle jack may not be ideal since it has a very high resting height. Ground clearance refers to the height the jack point, from the ground. For the sports cars and low cars, the hydraulic jacks are the best option since most of them are low profile jacks.

✓ The Weight of the Car:

Every floor jack has a maximum weight capacity that it can lift. You should be very clear on the weight of the jack that you intend to purchase.  The 2-ton and 3-ton jacks are the most common on the market. They are ideal for small to mid-sized cars. It is important to look at the maximum weight rating that is on your jack so as to avoid any cases of overloading it. Most of the modern jacks have safety levers which will prevent any cases of pushing the jack to lift loads that are beyond its capacity.

✓ Construction Quality:

The other essential consideration is checking the quality of the jack. You need to check the quality of the material that has been used in making the jack. If you buy a floor jack that is of poor build quality, you will have to buy another one after a short while. Worse still, poor quality jacks may break down and cause serious injuries to the person and damages to the car. In most cases, floor jacks will be made of heavy duty steel or aluminum. Hydraulic jacks are made of aircraft-grade aluminum and this makes them durable and long lasting.

With all the information above, we do hope that you can be able to make an informed decision and purchase the right floor jack.