A trolley jack can raise your vehicle off the ground effortlessly and in total safety as long as you follow the instructions.
For many people who repair or maintain their vehicle, raising it off the ground to gain access to the underside, or simply to remove and replace a wheel can be a bit of a struggle.
My advice is to forget the flimsy scissor jack included in your emergency kit and invest in a sturdy and reliable trolley jack to lift the vehicle high enough to get axle stands in place.
While a scissor jack is often included in your emergency kit I would treat them as such – a last resort to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Deciding which is the best car jack for your needs will involve thinking about what you intend to use the jack for. After all, what seems like the ideal piece of garage equipment to one person could be viewed as an overpriced tool to someone else. So here’s a few things you should consider:
- Lifting Weight
This is obviously important because you will need to ensure that the jack it of sufficient rating for the vehicle you will be lifting. And I’m going to also suggest that you be generous with that amount and go at least one size up. For example, if you need a 2 1/2 ton jack then you should realistically aim for a 3 ton or bigger unit.
- Lift Height
If you have a fairly high vehicle such as an SUV or truck then you are going to need a high lift jack that will safely and comfortably raise your vehicle to the required height. It is also worth checking that the jack is a ‘quick lift’ model or you will spend forever pumping the lever!
- Low Profile
On the flip side, if you have a ground hugging sports car then you will need a low profile jack that is low enough to slide under the jacking point comfortably.
While this may seem a minor point, you will also need to think about how you are likely to store the jack. for many keen DIY mechanics the jack will be used regularly, so simply pushing it to a corner or a storage room will suffice, while if you will only need the equipment a couple of times a year then buying a jack complete with storage case will make sense.
How To Use A Hydraulic Jack
First off, it’s important to note that this is only a general guide and you should ALWAYS read the manufacturers instruction manual prior to using your jack. That said, there are a number of things you need to consider when using a jack:
- Gather Everything You Need
Before you begin you should make sure you have all the tools and parts you will need to hand so that you can complete the job without leaving the raised car unattended.
- Park Flat
Park on a solid flat area and place chocks around the wheels that will not be raised off the ground in order to prevent the car from moving when raised. If possible you should put the car in gear and use the handbrake.
- Lift The Vehicle
Locate the lifting points on your vehicle as marked in your owners manual and slide the jack into position so that the lifting plate is roughly underneath.Making sure the jacks release valve is closed pump the handle slowly a couple of times to raise the lifting saddle into position. Make any minor adjustments so that the jack is in the correct position. Now continue to pump the handle until the vehicle is lifted to the required height.
- Axle Stands
Place axle stands into position and then lower the vehicle onto them, ensuring everything is stable before you begin working on the car. NEVER work underneath a vehicle that is supported only by hydraulic jack as any fluid leaks will cause the jack to lower unexpectedly.