Floor Jacks are invaluable devices, they enable us to lift heavy vehicles with a few pumps on the handle, so it’s easy to forget just how much weight is being suspended on the Jack and it’s paramount that we make sure we do it safely.
Following the simple steps below will ensure a trouble free, safe experience.
How to Safely use a Floor Jack
– Make Sure Your Jack is in Working Order. Check your jack for obvious signs of wear and tear, in particular watch for any fluid leaks, this indicated this system is no longer a closed one and as such you may lose pressure, this can result in the jack failing. Also look for any obvious structural damage, in particular in the joints of the Jack.
If you are in any doubt about the state of your jack, replace it. Simply put it’s not worth risking injury, or worse for a hundred bucks or so.
– Check your jack is rated to take the weight of your car. Make sure your Jack is able to bear the load of you vehicle, sounds obvious, but it is often the cause of Jack failure and can be extremely dangerous.
– Use a quality Jack. I can’t emphasis this enough, it makes me shudder when i see people risking their limbs, or worse their lives (or others) by using cheap, inferior jacks. Don’t do it! You need to make sure your jack is produced to the highest safety and quality standards, check out our review of some best floor jacks you should consider, click here.
– Ensure the vehicle is in park and the hand brake is on before beginning to raise your vehicle. You want to make sure the car is stationary and unable to move. When raising your vehicle up, depending on where you are jacking the car up, there is the chance the vehicles wheel will roll in one direction or the other. Placing the handbrake on while the car is in park will prevent this.
– Use Wheel Chocks to prevent the car rolling. An often overlooked step to ensure safe car lifting is using wheel chocks. Wheel chocks push up against the tires located at the opposite end of the vehicle to which is being lifted. This prevents further protection to prevent the car rolling in a direction. A house brick will do the job, but we recommend buying purpose built wheel chocks.
– Place your Jack on a flat, stable surface. The last thing you want is for the Jack to slip while you are using it. The way to prevent this is to try as best you can, to place the jack on a surface that isn’t undulating, sloped or unstable in composition (dirt, gravel etc.). Level bitumen or concrete surfaces are best.
It’s unlikely you will be on a surface smooth enough to encourage slipping, but to be extra safe, inspect the area and make sure there is a enough grip for the surface to be tactile.
– Always use a pair of Jack stands. Your Jack should be able to hold the weight of your vehicle, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Once you have raised your vehicles, placing Jack stand under the vehicle at the appropriate points will help share the loads and provide a safety mechanism, should the jack fail. Adding Jack stands will also add stability, this provides even more safety in the event someone bumps into the vehicle while you are underneath it. Pinch rail or the sub frame are the two most commonly used lifting points under your car.
– Lift your vehicle at the correct points. Check your owner’s manual to locate the safest, most sturdy lift points on your car. These points are not random, they are the strongest parts of your vehicles chassis, ONLY use these points when using a jack on our car.
– Take Your Time. Don’t rush the process. This applies more so when releasing the pressure in the jack to lower your vehicle, rushing only ever leads to accidents, take your time and be aware of your surroundings.
– Test stability before reaching under the vehicle. Once raised in the air, give the car a bit of a push, just to make sure the Jack doesn’t slip
– Always make sure every part of your body is clear of the vehicle when lowering it. Once again this one may be a no brainer, but make sure you (or anyone else for that matter) are clear of the car when lowering it.
Lifting and suspending a large weight in the air, especially if you’re going to placing any part of your persons underneath it, can be a dangerous task, but using a floor jack correctly and following the above safety tips, will take all the risk out of the process and ensure you can safely work on your car, change your tiers etc.