Hello and welcome back to our short series on tools for the beginning auto mechanic. In this series we have been talking mostly about what types of tools you should buy and how you should be using them. In this article I’m going to talk specifically about car jacks. Why car jacks? That’s easy – because in my experience the car jack is the most misused tool in any do it yourself mechanic’s garage. Typically your car should come with a scissor jack, and I still fail to understand how they are still legal. I would heavily suggest that a person looking to start building a tool set of auto mechanics make a hydraulic floor jack an absolute priority. Scissor jacks can collapse or simply fall to their sides as I have seen, causing the vehicle to fall and possibly seriously injuring you in the process.
So now that we have the scissor jack topic covered, let’s talk about what you should be using. Whenever someone talks to me about a good jack to buy for occasional use, I look at two different factors. car jack for oil change The first is the weight of the vehicle that they are lifting. If it’s a standard passenger car or a small light duty truck, typically a 1.5 ton hydraulic jack with a large flat lifting surface. Typically these will offer acceptable lifting heights and capacity for everyday use. If you are lifting a larger vehicle or require additional lifting height, I often suggest a 3 ton jack. If you need additional lift height often your only choice is a 4.5 or large jack. Never put a block of wood or anything else between the lifting surface of the jack and the frame of the vehicle you are lifting. That is very dangerous and should be avoided.
If you are working on a car that has been lowered, you may have to purchase a separate bottle jack to lift the car initially, and then use a standard floor jack once it is high enough. When it comes to bottle jacks, it’s very important to use them at the exact place that the manufacturer of your vehicle suggests you use for the scissor jack they include. This is because of the bottle jack’s smaller lifting point, it becomes much easier to accidentally damage your cars floor pan or worse.