Nowadays, you don’t need to have a home garage or take your vehicle to a repair shop just to have it raised. With a few essential tools such as a floor jack and a jack stand, lifting your vehicle to change a tire or perform minor repairs can be performed in the shortest time possible. But, before we get any further, do you really know how to use a floor jack?
You see, a floor jack is one of those essential tools that any enthusiast driver dreads. It allows you to lift your vehicle whether you’re beside the road or in your home garage. With a floor jack, you can replace a flat tire, change engine oil, replace your winter tires or access your car’s transmission, differential or gearbox during a maintenance schedule.
But, despite being a brilliant addition to your lineup of garage tools, most people don’t really know how to use a floor jack. For that reason, this short guide will take you through a detailed step-by-step procedure on how to use a floor jack.
What is a Floor Jack?
Before we begin, it’s important that we clear the air by explaining what a floor jack is. In simple terms, a floor jack is a device used to lift a vehicle off the ground during repair or maintenance. Unlike ordinary jacks, a floor jack is commonly found in a repair shop or a mechanic’s garage rather than your car’s boot.
The reason why it’s uncommon to find this type of jack in a home garage is due to the massive weight that makes it difficult to lift or move around. But, to make mobility a breeze, most manufacturers fit low-profile wheels to floor jacks to make them maneuverable.
Also, these jacks are designed with long handles and low ground clearance to enable them to slide under cars. So, with such a jack, you don’t have to make yourself dirty by sliding under a car just to raise it.
When it comes to the working mechanism, a floor jack uses the Pascal principle to lift an object. The principle states that Force = Area x Pressure. So, to function, hydraulic fluid is filled inside a piston pump. The piston pump is then operated by a cranking mechanism that occurs when the handle is jacked repeatedly. This provides an enormous force that’s needed to lift heavy weights.
So, How Do You Use a Floor Jack?
Things You’ll Need
- Floor Jack
- Jack Stands
- Step One: Find a Perfect Working Place
Now that you have your floor jack ready, let’s now learn how to use a car jack. The first step you need to take is to locate a perfect workplace to work on. In most cases, a flat hard surface such as your garage is considered the best. However, if your garage doesn’t have enough space, then you can find a concrete surface that’s free from dirt and debris.
Always avoid jacking your vehicle on an uneven or soft surface as this can cause the jack to sink to the ground or lose its balance. Any error at this stage can cause fatal consequences if you’re not careful.
Other than that, check the condition of your floor jack to ensure there are no missing or damaged parts. Check the weight rating of the floor jack to ensure it’s within the recommended weight rating. Lastly, ensure that you wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, work boots, and an apron.
- Step Two: Park Your Vehicle
So, once you’re through inspecting the jack and locating a perfect parking spot, the next step is to park your vehicle. Here, you have to shift to Parking gear and engage the hand brake. Use wheel chocks to secure wheels on the side you’ll not be jacking up.
- Step Three: Test the Jack
Now that you’ve parked your vehicle in a secure location, the next step is to inspect your floor jack for the final time. Make sure the jack can raise and lower smoothly. Also, inspect the condition of the jack stands to ensure they’re in perfect order.
- Step Four: Locate the Jack Points
With everything ready, it’s now time to lift your vehicle off the ground. Here, you’ll start by locating the jack points. Remember, different vehicles have different jack points. For that, you need to consult your car’s manual to know the exact jack points.
You can also search the internet to see the specific jack points for your car model. However, as a rule of thumb, most jack points are located just near the front and rear tires. Lastly, it’s important that you double-check the jack point to ensure that you don’t end up jacking the car’s body or any delicate component.
- Step Five: Lift the Vehicle
With the jack points figured out, check the wheels to confirm you’ve chocked them perfectly using the wheel chocks. This will keep the vehicle intact when lifting is in progress.
Once the chocks are perfectly in place, start by pushing the jack under the car just below the jack point. The best thing about floor jacks is that they have caster wheels that offer easy mobility. This means that you won’t bother lifting the bulky machine at all.
Also at this point, it’s important that you learn how to use a jack stand as you’ll have to use it to support the car once it’s lifted. So, start by pumping the handle to lift the jack’s saddle to the preferred height. Make sure the vehicle is lifted high enough to suit the maintenance or repair job you’re intending to accomplish.
- Step Six: Place the Jack Stands
Once you’ve lifted the vehicle, the next step is to place the jack stands on the jack points to set your floor jack free. To do that, you need to position the jack stand underneath the jack point then lower the floor jack slowly. Continue lowering the floor jack until the weight of your vehicle rests on the jack stand. Once the jack stand bears the weight of the car, proceed to lower the floor jack to the ground.
- Step Seven: Lower the Vehicle
Assuming you’re done repairing your vehicle, the last step you’ll take before hitting the road is to lower the vehicle to the ground. So, how do you accomplish this? Well, the first thing you’ll need to do is to position your floor jack underneath a jack point.
Next, raise the floor jack until it matches the height of the jack stands. Continue raising the jack until it bears the weight of the vehicle. At this point, the jack stand (s) will be free. Clear them out of the way. Next, twist the handle counterclockwise to open the release valve.
This way, the jack will lower the saddle and in the process, your vehicle will lower to the ground. In case you’ve been wondering how to use a floor jack without a handle, then this is the recommended process.
Using a floor jack to lift your vehicle seems like an effortless endeavor. However, there are many risks involved as the process involves raising thousands of pounds. Thankfully, this short guide has discussed everything you need to know when lifting a vehicle using a floor jack. With that said, always exercise caution and don’t forget to use the right tools and accessories.