From changing flat tires to brake jobs or oil changes, learning how to raise and support your vehicle using floor jacks safely is essential to many DIY automotive jobs.
This skill will come in handy for everything, whether you are just working in your driveway or finding yourself on the side of the road. If you own a small garage or work on your vehicle a lot, knowing how to jack up and support your vehicle safely is essential.
If you do not take the proper precautions, working under your vehicle can be very dangerous. You should not use any shortcuts, nor should you “make do” with missing or poorly maintained equipment.
Ask a more experienced fixer for assistance if you’re unsure how to proceed. It is never a good idea to get underneath a car that is merely supported by a jack during this procedure.
To get underneath the vehicle, ensure the jack stands are securely attached. This guide can also be used to safely raise a vehicle with ramps instead of lifting it with a hydraulic jack.
How To Lift A Vehicle And Support It Using Floor Jacks
Observe the step-by-step sequence carefully to jack up the car with the floor jack. If you fail to do so, you may suffer death or serious injury.
Find solid, level ground first, if you can. Having a flat when you are driving is not an ideal situation. If you want your vehicle to be parked properly, you need to park as flat as possible.
As a first step, park on concrete or asphalt that is firm and level. Do not attempt to lift a car on an uneven surface, on soft ground, or on debris such as rocks or gravel.
If the terrain is soft or uneven, don’t raise your vehicle. In this case, serious injury or even death may be caused by the ground shifting or the jack suddenly shifting. You need to put the transmission into Park.
If your gearbox is manual, shift into the first gear. Engage the parking brake after engaging the brake. The ignition should be turned off and the key removed.
Put the automatic transmission in Park if your car is automatic. Standard cars should be put in first gear. Once you have your parking brake set, be sure to chock any wheels that remain on the ground. When you jack up the car and set the stands, it will not move.
To prevent a vehicle from rolling unexpectedly, chock the opposite wheel or wheels of where you will place the jack. Here are some examples: The chock should be behind the left wheel of the rear if you’re jacking up the right wheel.
You should put a chock ahead of the front left wheel and another behind the rear left wheel if you plan to jack up the left side of the vehicle.
If the pressure relief valve is open, grab the floor jack and shut it. A jack lever is usually twisted clockwise to shut off the valve.
Routine repairs should not be done with an emergency jack. Emergency jacks are used when a flat tire needs to be changed. Its more durable, robust design makes it more suitable for general maintenance and repair.
The jack should be repaired or replaced directly before working if it is leaking fluid or otherwise in disrepair.
Check the manufacturer’s recommended weight specifications for the jack and jack stand. When lifting/supporting your vehicle, be sure that oncoming traffic can see you, like on a narrow shoulder.
You should set up a jack point in the part where the vehicle needs to be raised. In order to make a jack secure, locate the:
- Specifically designed contact area for the jack, or
- The area where you know the vehicle will not slip off its jack if it is fully loaded.
The location of your vehicle’s jack points can be found in the owner’s manual. Each wheel usually has one. It’s possible, however, that both the rear wheels and the front wheels have additional jack points. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you don’t know.
The jack should not be placed under a body panel, as shown here. It is not only dangerous for your vehicle, but you can also be injured or killed if you follow the incorrect procedure. It is better to place the jack on a sturdy, unpainted wall of the vehicle.
The jack should be placed under the vehicle in the area of the point that you selected. You should place the jack just behind one of the wheels to raise it. Simply place the jack in front of one of the rear wheels to raise it.
With a jack point located midway between the front (or rear) wheels, you can lift both the front (and rear) wheels simultaneously as well. You may be able to position your jack under the front or rear subframe of some vehicles if there is a dedicated jack point for this purpose.
If the jack is located under the front (or rear) wheels, take care to place it exactly in the middle. You should not place a jack underneath any non-structural components, such as the oil pan, radiator, and steering rack.
You might be able to jack up both rear wheels by using the rear differential. You should consult your vehicle’s documentation if you’re not sure if this is the case; if it isn’t, you may damage it.
Make sure the jack point will have secure contact with the vehicle when raised by looking under the vehicle. The body panel includes a small arrow that indicates where the jack should touch the frame.
As you raise the vehicle, the vehicle’s angle will change. To prevent your jack from slipping off the jack point, place it in a position that will prevent it from moving.
The jack handle needs to be pushed down repeatedly before you can begin lifting your vehicle. As you raise the vehicle, make sure the jack rests properly where it contacts the vehicle.
If this is not possible, stop and look after the jack that has made good contact with the jack point after elevating the vehicle an inch or two. Release the valve slightly so that the jack can be lowered back down.
Once the jack point is in contact with the release valve, close the release valve and reposition it. Ensure that your vehicle is raised until it reaches the height that allows you to put jack stands (or safety straps) in place.
Ensure your jack stand(s) are positioned below the jack, under a secure area of your vehicle’s frame. The jack stands should be positioned near each wheel if you are raising both front and rear wheels.
Ultimately the vehicle will be raised by the jack, but the jack stand will hold it in place. Put the jack stand in a place that will support the weight of the vehicle without it sliding off.
The crank jack that comes with your vehicle should only be used in an emergency. Floor jacks should be used whenever possible. The manufacturer will direct you as to where and how your jack and jack stands should be placed once you’ve raised the vehicle.
It’s safe to raise your vehicle once you’ve checked the area around the jack stands and jack where your jack will rest for rocks and debris. After that, place the stand or stands below the grill at the manufacturer’s recommended location.
If you’re supporting a vehicle, it’s best to do so on both sides, but if you’re supporting only one side, that depends on what you’re doing. Jack stands must be leveled when used. They become unstable if tilted at all.
Lift your vehicle onto the stands and lower your floor jack. Observe the stability of the stands from different angles before stepping under the vehicle or continuing work. If a jack only supports your vehicle, it’s not safe to work under it.
After you are done working on the vehicle, you can raise it off the stand with your jack. Be careful not to apply pressure when removing the stands. Freely releasing them is essential.
Follow the instructions on your floor jack to carefully lower your vehicle. Hopefully, now you know how and where to place floor jacks.