Most of us don’t start out working on cars in a well-equipped garage. If you were lucky, maybe your parents or a friend had one of the best floor jacks, and you got to use it for your automotive work. But when most projects seem to require buying or borrowing a new specialty tool, a new, high-quality car jack can be low on the list.

We struggled along for years using either cheap car jacks, or even the scissor jacks that come with most cars, and it was always the worst part of getting a vehicle off the ground. They’re cumbersome, slow, inconvenient, and sometimes dangerous. When we finally upgraded to a real service jack (our Editor’s Pick), it immediately became one of the best tools we ever owned. If you want to get any work done on your vehicle, a floor jack is a must have. These will speed up the process during maintenance like changing tires, brakes pads and rotors, oil, and are vital for larger jobs like suspension work.

There’s a lot involved in picking the best floor jack, such as how much it needs to lift, what material it’s made of, how the saddle is formed, and how tall or heavy the jack is. Floor jacks are designed to help you lift your car quickly, but be sure to follow safe operating procedure. Not only should you lift your vehicle on flat and level ground, but a major part of safe lifting is to also use jack stands and wheel chocks to stabilize the vehicle. Always push and rock your car around by hand to make sure it won’t fall before you ever get under it.

In addition, these jacks have different weight ratings, feature both aluminum and steel construction, and vary in size, so they can be used under a variety of different cars, trucks, and SUVs. Some of them will even work with ATVs or UTVs, or trailers. 

However, a quality, fast-action hydraulic floor jack isn’t always the easiest thing to move around. For more portable units you may want to check out a bottle jack, air jack, or scissor jack. As you’ll see with our Editor’s Pick, many (but not all) brands of jacks appear to be identical, or nearly so, and are made by the same few factories.

Below, you’ll find our picks for the best floor jacks based on our personal experience, features, build quality, and customer service. For more information on car jacks, including use and safety tips, refer to our Table of Contents.

1: Editor's Pick: Arcan 3-Ton Quick Rise Aluminum Floor Jack

 Arcan 3-Ton Quick Rise Aluminum Floor Jack

We use a version of the Arcan 3-ton aluminum jack in the AutoGuide Garage.

The Arcan is the same 3 ton floor jack with different branding as at least five other brands (and the Blackline model from Arcan), including the Sunex 6603ASJ, and JEGS 80077, which is what we use in the AutoGuide Garage. Big Red/Torin/TCE also sell a jack which, other than a different rear caster design, appears identical. This is an excellent opportunity to shop for the best price, as you’re just getting the same thing in different colors. When we wrote this, the Arcan was priced much lower than the other two.

This is more than a basic hydraulic jack, designed to lift heavier vehicles with its three-ton capacity. It is constructed from aluminum so it’s 15 to 20 pounds lighter than a three ton steel car jack, making it easier to maneuver around your garage. The Arcan is listed at 56 pounds, and measures ‎30 x 13.5 x 8 inches. If you can pick up almost 60 pounds, it has large, convenient handles; otherwise, the casters roll easily. Weights listed vary for the different brands; our identical JEGS was advertised at 58 pounds and shows 54.8 pounds on a digital scale. Maybe yellow paint is lighter than green.

To raise the 4.5-inch rotating saddle quickly, it’s built with dual pump pistons, while a reinforced lift arm contributes to increased strength, chassis torsion control, and durability. Under load, we’ve found it takes about 10 full pumps to get the full 15.75-inch raise, from 3.5 to the maximum height of 19.25 inches.

There is a rubber insert in the saddle, which isn’t particularly useful; and a foam handle bumper to protect against accidental run-ins with your vehicle, which is useful. The side-mount handles help for convenient positioning, and we haven’t found that they get in the way. Our has performed extremely well, lifting our 4,200-pound Dodge Magnum RT (along with a diesel Kubota utility tractor) easily and dependably.

When you buy it with Arcan branding, you’re saving as much as $100 over the Sunex, while getting exactly the same jack in a snappy green finish. If you really want to save money, the original manufacturer (which also makes products for Husky, AC Delco, Performance Tool, Craftsman, and many others) will sell you a convenient 300-piece order of them for around $110 each. Plus shipping.

Promoted Product: Pittsburgh 3-Ton Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump

Pittsburgh Floor Jack

When it comes to value, the Pittsburgh 3-Ton Heavy Duty floor jack is hard to beat.

As the name implies, this jack has a working capacity of 6,000 pounds, but our favorite feature is the Rapid Pump technology that is able to lift most loads in just 3 ½ pumps thanks to its dual parallel pump system.

With a minimum height of only 5 1/8 inches, the Pittsburgh 3-ton floor jack can slide under most any vehicle and boasts a maximum lift height of 18 ¼ inches. As well, the jack has a total length of 27 1/2 inches, width of 14 3/8 inches, and handle length of 45 5/8 inches. With an advertised shipping weight of 83 pounds, make sure you lift with your legs…and maybe give the delivery guy a tip.

Other features include a protective foam bumper on the jack handle to protect your vehicle from scratches, extra-wide steel casters for added stability, and heavy duty precision welding. It also offers precision control load descent so your vehicle doesn’t drop down too aggressively.

2. Best for Low Cars: Powerbuilt 2 Ton Extra Low Profile Floor Jack

powerbuilt xtra low profile floor jack

Powerbuilt’s 2-ton low profile jack is a great solution when you don’t have much clearance.

If you have a lowered vehicle, or just a sports car or classic car, Powerbuilt’s Xtra Low Profile Floor Jack is designed for vehicles as low as 2.75 inches, and it’s capable of raising up to 15.5 inches. It’s also a good option if you’ve got a unibody vehicle and you’re finding it difficult to position jack stands without accessible frame rails. That’s because it’s equipped with a steel safety bar that slides under the lift arm, securing the jack in its raised position. Although the company says the safety bar eliminates the need for jack stands, we would still use jack stands if at all possible any time we were getting underneath our vehicle.

Other features on this floor jack include a wide base and roller to improve stability, while the ball bearing swivel casters make it easy to maneuver around your garage. A rear carry handle lets you carry the jack to storage when it’s not being used.

The drawbacks are that the all-steel construction adds weight, at ‎58.7 pounds, and the arm design means you can’t get it very far under your car. It is compact and measures ‎13.4 x 24.7 x 7.75 inches. The saddle is small and doesn’t rotate. It has a rubber insert, but they don’t last long in any jack. Users report trouble lowering slowly and smoothly; we recommend bleeding all jacks before you use them the first time, or when you have problems. See the Table of Contents for tips on setting up a jack before using it, and bleeding it if there are problems.

3. Best on a Budget: Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack

Pro-Lift F-767 2 Ton Low Profile Service Jack

It’s not great, but the Pro-Lift jack is infinitely better than a scissor jack.

If you don’t work on your car often, but still want a major upgrade from a scissor jack, we (and tens of thousands of other people) like this jack from Pro-Lift. It’s a single-cylinder, low profile car jack with a two-ton capacity, and features a lifting range of 3.5 to 14 inches. The company uses a patented bypass device to protect against over-pumping, while a built-in safety valve provides overload protection, meaning it won’t lift if there’s too much weight on it, which can blow out seals and valves. Both these features contribute to safer operation, but again, always use jack stands when crawling underneath a vehicle.

Conveniently, it’s 30 pounds, which is a lot lighter than most other hydraulic jacks, and it has a molded plastic top handle for lifting. We’ve had light-duty car jacks with top handles like this before, and they’ve held up just fine. It measures 17.91 x 5.32 x 8.47 inches, which is a smaller than the big jacks, as well. Being narrow isn’t good for stability, you’ll need a more pumps to raise it than with a dual-cylinder quick-lift jack, and it doesn’t raise as high, but it’s only 3.5 inches tall at it’s lowest, so there isn’t much it can’t get under. A small 2.25-inch saddle rotates freely. That’s not a very large area to support a car, but it also fits into small factory jacking points that a garage jack might not.

Using the Pro-Lift F-767

Pro-Lift F-767 2 Ton Low Profile Service Jack

Oil should just cover the top of the cylinder, and this plug is a pain to remove.

Our biggest complaint with the Pro-Lift F-767 is how many pumps it takes for a full lift. When we got it into the AutoGuide Garage, we tried it out before bleeding, and it took 52 pumps to get all the way up. Our double cylinder Jegs (Arcan/Sunex) jack needs seven. We were actually excited to be able to demonstrate how important it is to bleed a new jack, but after running through our complete bleeding procedure four times, it still took exactly the same 52 pumps. Ours also came very low on fluid, requiring us to buy a bottle of hydraulic jack oil and pour in several ounces before there was enough to cover the top of the cylinder. The filler has a tightly fit rubber plug that requires a thin flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers to remove, and we we worried about ripping it. There was no sign of leaks either before filling or after, so it looks like it was underfilled from the factory, and we don’t anticipate having to add more any time soon.

Loose bolt on a Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack

Our inspection also found a loose bolt. Lock washers don’t work, anyway. Threadlocker would be better.

Pro-Lift Warranty and Customer Service

According to the user manual there is a good two-year warranty on the Pro-Lift F-767 jack, although other materials say 90 days. If you need warranty service, Pro-Lift requires you pay shipping, which may be more than the cost of the jack. The Pro-Lift site has toll-free and local US and Canadian phone numbers for parent company Shinn Fu (maker of brands including Hein-Werner, Blackhawk, and Omega), customer service web forms, and manuals. We’ve had trouble contacting Shinn Fu in the past.

4. Best for SUVs and Trucks: AFF 4 Ton Heavy Duty Floor Jack

AFF 4 Ton Heavy Duty Floor Jack

The American Forge & Foundry four-ton jack is built to lift trucks and big SUVs

When SUVs like a Chevy Tahoe can weigh almost 6,000 pounds, you need a serious jack if you’re going to work on one. American Forge and Foundry makes a four-ton (4T) that offers near-professional performance for a consumer price.

At 105 pounds of solid steel, don’t plan on tossing it around. A 14.33 inch width gives you extra stability with heavy loads, and it’s 28.82 inches long. Higher lift heights are important with bigger vehicles, and it has 16.2 inches of lift, from 4.3 inches at its lowest, to 20.5 inches at the highest. It has a pinned and padded rubber saddle, which is different from the metal saddles with rubber inserts on lighter jacks, and is important for keeping trucks and SUVs from slipping.

It uses two hydraulic cylinders to make lifting easier and faster, and the long handle comes apart to help with storage. 

A wide variety of repair and replacement parts are available from the manufacturer.

5. Best for Offroad and Lifted Vehicles: Pro Eagle 3 Ton Kratos

Pro Eagle 3 Ton Kratos jack

The Kratos jack is built like a tank and can lift 28″ high

If you’re offroading, you probably have a high-lift jack that can lift several feet, but those aren’t convenient or very stable for everyday garage use. Cooke’s 3 ton Pro Eagle jack gives you the convenience of a hydraulic floor jack, with up to 28 inches of lifting ability, at least a foot more than any regular service jack. The three ton capacity makes it useful for more than just offroad vehicles, and it would be perfect for UTVs and ATVs, trailers, and small tractors. 

It’s also designed for rough surfaces, with oversized tires and heavy duty axles. It comes with an eight-inch adjustable lifting post, an there’s an optional additional 13 inch extension if your frame is that high off the ground. It’s built with sealed bearings to keep out dust and water, all-stainless fasteners, and beefy sideplates for stability. The all-aluminum chassis keeps weight down to a very reasonable 60 pounds. The minimum height, without the extension, is six inches, which will be too tall to get under lower cars.

The large wheels give it a big footprint,  ‎34 x 15 x 10 inches, and between that and the height, you won’t be tucking it away in a tight corner. Some versions come with standard side handles, while others have a grab handle, but the mechanical construction is the same. Numerous accessories including mounts, pads, toolkits, and the 13-inch extension are available.

6: An Affordable Aluminum Racing Jack: Daytona 1.5 Ton Professional Racing Series Aluminum Floor Jack

Daytona 1.5 Ton Professional Racing Series Aluminum Floor Jack

Stepping up to even an affordable aluminum jack makes your projects much easier

We’ve used bargain-basement floor jacks in the past, and they have the ability to make a fun project into a nightmare. It’s still better to have one than nothing, but you’ll want to step up to the next level if you’re using it more than a few times a year.

You can get Daytona jacks in a number of different configurations like low profile and long reach, in 1.5 , 2 , and 3 ton models, but if you’re starting out on a budget, the basic 1.5 ton model is a good choice.

It lifts 10.75 inches, which isn’t a large amount, from 3.5 inches to 14.25, but it comes with many of the features of more expensive jacks, like a foam guard on the handle, lifting handles, and a solid rubber saddle. It’s 20.4 inches long and 10.1 inches wide, making both compact and wide enough to be stable. It weighs 32.3 pounds, which is light enough to be easily portable. It’s a lot of jack for the price, and should hold up to regular, if light-duty use.

7: So You Want to Start a Shop: Hein-Werner 4 Ton Long Chassis Service Jack

 Hein-Werner 4 Ton Long Chassis Service Jack

Not many people need one, but a Hein-Werner 4 ton jack will outlast you

There’s no more stepping up to anything from the USA-made all-steel 4 ton Hein-Werner, aside from a garage lift. This beast has a 20.75 inch lift, from 5 inches to 25.75 inches, and is 49 inches long to get under almost anything. The chassis is incredibly heavy-duty, contributing to the 219 pounds of garage floor-hugging weight. It’s 15 inches wide, too, which is important with the big loads it is designed to hold.

Model number HW93657 has a sealed, dual-piston hydraulic cylinder that is internally protected from over-pumping and overloading. The long handle has three pumping positions and rather than twist to release, uses a knob for precise lowering control. Four tons gives you enough capacity to lift one end of the largest passenger vehicles, a loaded trailer, a small dump truck or other commercial vehicles, or agricultural equipment like tractors. 

Everything You Need to Know About Floor Jacks

Car Floor Jacks

Photo credit: ikuyan / Shutterstock.com. It’s easy to see how this car could tip over without jack stands.

A car jack is an essential part of a DIYer’s garage, and a good one can make a huge difference in how you work on your car. Floor jacks come in a few shapes and sizes and help for both big jobs and small ones. You can certainly just put on a spare tire with your stock scissors jack, but after the second or third time, you’ll start looking longingly at a floor jack.

Once you start doing even basic maintenance, repairs, and upgrades, you’ll rapidly discover the limitations of a scissor jack. They only work with one specific area of the car, and are often in the way when you’re changing the oil or brake pads. Spending several minutes cranking one up and down gets old, fast, and the time adds up. A service jack is also much more stable—there isn’t much margin for error with a narrow scissors jack, and your car can fall off if you’re not careful.

The best hydraulic jacks are an investment, but when you consider how much you can save over even a few trips to a mechanic for oil changes, or a tire store for changeovers, it makes the decision easy.

How Big a Jack Do I Need?

A good rule of thumb is to stay under 2/3 of your jack’s capacity. If you have a 3 ton jack, don’t lift more than 2 tons with it. But remember: You’re probably not doing anything that will lift a whole car. A new Escalade might weigh 5,800 pounds, but if you’re lifting one end of it, that’s 2,900 pounds, or 1.5 tons. A bigger jack will definitely make that jacking easier and faster, but a 2 ton jack is enough for the job.

Safe Hydraulic Jack Lifting Capacities

 

1.5 ton jack 1,800 pounds
   
2 ton jack 2,400 pounds
   
3 ton jack 3,600 pounds
   
4 ton jack 4,800 pounds

Why You Shouldn't Trust Hydraulics

It’s really tempting when you buy a quality garage jack to let it be all that holds up your car. But it’s a rule throughout industry that you should never trust a load held up with hydraulics. Very simply, hydraulics depend on valves and seals to keep the pressure in and if you’ve ever seen an older piece of construction equipment, you’ve seen the stains from leaking hydraulics. Generally, these are slow, but two thousand pounds of car coming down slowly rather than fast on your arm isn’t much of a consolation.

Every jack will eventually get a leak so bad that it won’t hold up a car. That could happen if you haven’t used it in a while, and nothing happens when you try to lift. But Murphy’s Law says it’ll probably be at the worst possible moment. Always have mechanical support for your car when you’re under it, whether that’s jack stands or just a stack of 4x4s. All hydraulics will eventually fail, and you don’t want to be in the way when they do.

What is a Floor Jack?

Rather than lifting straight up like a scissor, high-lift, or bottle jack, a floor or service jack uses an arm to distribute the weight of your vehicle into a frame and across wheels.  This makes them more stable than the other types, but also gives them a larger footprint. Leverage against the arm can make lifting a lot faster and easier, taking just five or 10 pumps to lift more than a foot, although how easy or fast it is depends on the car jack you’re using. You generally get more speed and with the more money you spend.

The wheels, long chassis, and handle of a hydraulic jack allow you to get one not just under the side of a car, but underneath a frame rail, differential, or other hard point. If you’re doing suspension work, you might need to jack up the car, put it on jack stands, then use your floor jack to support the suspension. There are also adaptors to support a transmission, although you wouldn’t want to use one regularly.

Mostly, hydraulic car jacks make lifting your vehicle easier, faster, and safer.

What to do When You First Get Your Jack

A jack low on hydraulic fluid won't work properly

Photo credit: US Army Logistics Data Analysis Center

Because a hydraulic jack has a cylinder filled with hydraulic oil, they both need occasional maintenance; and often setup, especially after shipping. You’re lifting the weight of a vehicle and a lot depends on your jack, so you need to start with a visual inspection.

First, is there any oil on the jack or its box? This isn’t necessarily a reason to worry, it’s not unusual for a relief valve not to be fully tightened at the factory, or for some to leak out with rough handling. Check your manual for where they are, then tighten any loose valves. If oil has leaked out, you should assume that it’s enough that you’ll need to top it off.

Inspecting a hydraulic jack

A dry box with no oil stains is a good sign.

Next, check bolts, and welds. Welds should make a smooth transition from base metal to weld and back, without any holes, cracks, or pits. Spatter—little droplets of metal that fly off during welding and stick to surfaces—are normal, but a good welder will clean them off. If you’re not sure, ask a friend if it’s ok. Tighten all the bolts and screws.

Finally, all hydraulic jacks should be bled before use. This just means getting extra air, or air bubbles out. Fortunately, this isn’t complicated, you just need to do a lot of pumping. See our next section for how to bleed and fill a jack.

Checking jack oil level

It can be hard to tell if a jack has the right amount of oil, so use something as a dipstick.

How To Bleed (and Fill) a Hydraulic Floor Jack

Removing a floor jack cover plate

Most jacks will have a protective plate you’ll need to remove to get to the filler.

Only hydraulic jacks need bleeding, because only hydraulic jacks have oil. It’s easy to do, if long and boring, and you usually don’t need any tools at all. Start out by unboxing your jack and assembling if necessary, reading the instructions, running through the inspection steps above. Then place it on a flat surface like your driveway or garage floor, with no weight on it.

Removing a hydraulic jack fill plug

Low end jacks often have a rubber plug, while more expensive ones have a screw.

How To Bleed Your Jack Before Use

First, open the lifting valve and pump 10 times. If your jack goes up, your valve is closed. It shouldn’t raise up with the valve open.

Second, close the valve and pump it all the way up. Keep pumping another 10 times with it fully raised.

Third, release the valve and let the jack all the way back down. You might have to push it down a little with your foot.

Fourth, repeat twice more. This should separate all the air and oil.

Bleeding a shop jack

Be sure to get your jack all the way up when bleeding it.

Fifth, if your jack still doesn’t lift right, repeat one through four, then with the valve released and the jack all the way down, find and very gently open the filler valve slightly. You should hear a hiss of escaping air. A little hydraulic fluid will probably come out with it. Close it as soon as the air stops.

Filling a Car Jack With Hydraulic Oil

You could need to repeat the whole thing several times. If your jack was low on fluid, you’ll need to fill it. Simply locate the filler, either a screw or plug you pop off. If all you see inside is oil, you don’t need to fill your jack. If you see metal, that’s the top of your hydraulic cylinder, and you should fill your jack with good quality hydraulic jack oil until it’s covered (not until completely filled). Replace the plug and then…start bleeding your jack. Again.

Hydraulic jack oil

Use a good quality hydraulic jack oil. If you have leaking seals, you can try one with leak stopping additives, but don’t expect miracles.

If your jack is in good condition, you might go years without bleeding it. If it happens a lot, it’s either defective or, if it’s older or used a lot, needs to be rebuilt. 

Why Buy a Floor Jack?

The last time we had to go to a tire shop to get new wheels and tires mounted, there was a six-week wait. Combine that with paying someone else hundreds of dollars to put on wheels and tires you already own, and a car jack can easily pay for itself.

A hydraulic jack gives you the freedom not only to get things done on your car when you want them done, but opens up the door to all kinds of work short of removing an engine. Almost all routine repair, maintenance, and upgrades can be done at home without too many specialty tools, especially if you have a few friends who can help out. Plus, most parts stores have rental or even loaner tools, if you need them. 

How do Floor Jacks Work?

Floor jacks work with either hydraulic power or mechanical power. The latter are typically smaller, lighter jacks and are easy to store, but have a lower lifting capacity and can require a bit of elbow grease to work.

Mechanical Jacks

Mechanical jacks can work in several different ways. Old service jacks like you might have used in a Prewar garage often use a long handle for leverage, and a ratcheting bar. You push down the handle and it clicks forward a notch or two, raising the jack. As far as we know, no one makes a new ratcheting floor jack. They were extremely heavy, and often over four feet long.

However, if you take the same concept and turn it upright, that’s the basis of a high-lift jack. Capable of lifting 48 inches or more, these are standard equipment for all off-roaders, who have to cope both with lifted vehicles on large tires; and rough terrain where they might have to jack in while in a hole.

The most common types of mechanical or manual jacks, like the scissor jack included with almost all cars, use something called a lead screw, which is the same concept that Archimedes was playing around with 2,400 years ago, himself having picked it up from an Egyptian water moving method in use around 2500 B.C.E.. A shaft with grooves called threads passes though a ring or collar, and uses mechanical advantage to multiply the force you put in. The disadvantage is you do a lot of turning for not much lifting, but they can be extremely light and compact for their capacity. There are lots of variations on this theme, including ultra-low profile jacks that go as low as 1″, and many different style of bottle jacks.

Electric jacks almost always just add an electric motor to a scissor or other screw jack, greatly speeding up the process.

A third, specialty kind of mechanical jack uses a rotating handle to turn a gear box, which lifts a toothed post. They are very slow and have limited range, but they are capable of lifting weights comparable to a bottle jack, up to 50,000 pounds, and there’s no chance of a hydraulic failure. The slow raising and controlled lowering can be useful in applications requiring extreme precision.

Hydraulic Jacks

Whether you know it or not, if you’re buying a jack, you’re probably already using hydraulics. While electric steering and brakes are becoming more common, almost all cars on the road have hydraulic brakes and steering, and often other hydraulic systems, as well. The principle is the same for all hydraulics, whether it’s in a jack, a car, an excavator or a Boeing: Generate pressure in a cylinder full of fluid, then send that pressurized fluid somewhere to do work. Hydraulic jacks use a light oil that you pressurize by pumping. Because the oil can’t compress much, it has to go somewhere, which is through a one-way check or ball valve into another cylinder and piston, which forces the jack up. You then open a release or bypass valve to let the fluid back out. There may also be an accumulator tank to hold pressurized hydraulic fluid.

Bottle jacks have a slightly different design but operate the same way. The difference is that a floor jack builds pressure before the lifting arm starts to move, and the lifting cylinder in a bottle jack raises as you pump.

There are also air jacks, which can either use compressed air to do the same pumping work on a hydraulic cylinder, or inflate airbags.

The Different Types of Jacks

Mechanical and hydraulic car jacks come in a variety of configurations, each with their own sets of benefits and drawbacks.

Floor Jack

A new Jegs three-ton jack and two old floor jacks

Floor jacks are most useful for everyday work. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide

These are what are typically found in garages or workshops. Big and heavy, service jacks are the strongest and most capable car jacks available to the general consumer. Due to their size, it’s unlikely you’d be transporting one of these around in one of your cars for an emergency situation. However, to make moving them around a vehicle easier, they have casters or wheels. As a result, they work best on flat and level ground.

These jacks typically operate with a lever that raises an arm that connects with the vehicle’s jack point and will then raise the vehicle as needed. Then you need to lower it on to jack stands to support the car’s weight while you work on it

Bottle Jack

Two 20 ton bottle jacks

Two 20 ton bottle jacks will lift a house. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide

Another more portable jack is a bottle jack, which uses a piston mechanism to raise a vehicle. These can also be pretty easy to use and are often operated with a lever as well. It’s a helpful type of jack, but it’s limited in terms of its height. These can only raise the vehicle twice the height of the device. Additionally, these devices can be kind of tall to begin with, so it might be difficult to put them under sports cars or other lower vehicles. They’re mostly recommended for use on vehicles like SUVs or equipment like tractors.

Scissor Jack

Scissor Jacks - Foor Jacks

The scissor jack is what most people are familiar with, as they are found in almost all spare tire kits. These are for changing tires, but inconvenient for more exhaustive repairs on a vehicle. Although they’re very lightweight and portable, they are sometimes tiring to use due to the seemingly endless winding required to lift and lower with them.

High Lift Jack

A pair of high lift jacks

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Michal K.

Hi-lift jacks use a fairly simple ratchet mechanism to move the support up a post, rather than pivoting a mechanism off the floor. As a result, they can be as long as you want, although in practice, 60 inches is the maximum. You can’t get use them on most cars, as you can’t get the lifting platform far enough under the side. Instead, they’re used for offroad vehicles with heavy duty metal bumpers capable of supporting the entire weight of the lift, as well as in both first responder rescue, and agricultural applications. These are affordable and versatile tools that can be used for more than just jacking, but aren’t very useful for working on regular street vehicles.

The Benefits of a Floor Jack

Floor jacks can be used on a wide variety of vehicle body styles and sizes, and can fit in most garages and workspaces. Sure they’re not as portable as other styles of jacks, but they’re safe and capable.

They are also pretty easy to use. They have wheels or casters to move them around a car, meaning it’s easy to place them under a jack point. Then, using a level and hydraulics, they can quickly lift a vehicle. When you’re done with your work, you can lower the vehicle easily and safely.

These jacks can also be used for jobs like supporting suspension parts, or, with an adaptor, lifting a transmission.

Floor Jack Accessories

Along with your any kind of car jack, there are accessories you’ll need to make it safer to work underneath your vehicle.

You should always use a floor jack in conjunction with jack stands, which hold your car up while  work on it. Never go under a vehicle that’s only being held up by a floor jack, so jack stands are essential to performing all maintenance tasks. You use a floor jack to raise a vehicle, slide your jack stands underneath the car, and then lower the vehicle onto the stands. Some jack stands are adjustable with a pin, while others are static.

Chocking the wheels is important when jacking it up

Another important part of using a floor jack is to chock your wheels, which keeps your car from tipping off the jack once you have it lifted at an angle. They are also insurance that the car doesn’t roll and drop onto you while you’re working.

Rolling mechanics seat

Creepers and roller seats are useful if you’re going to be working under the car. Roller seats are great when you need to work in a wheel well and don’t want to sit on a tire, while creepers let you roll underneath the car. A few days of scrunching around on a piece of cardboard will make most people a convert.

What To Look For In a Floor Jack

There are a few important factors to consider when buying a floor jack. First, what kind of vehicle are you trying to lift? A sports car, sedan, and SUV all need different tools to lift them.

For example, take into consideration the ground clearance of the vehicle. A bottle jack can’t fit underneath all vehicles but may be perfect for a lifted truck. On the other hand, a floor jack would be perfect for a sports car, because many are low profile and can slide right under them.

Another important factor to consider is weight. Jacks are commonly rated by how much weight they can lift and support. So if you have a bigger, heavier vehicle, you need a jack with a higher weight rating. Jacks are most commonly rated for between 1.5 and 3 tons, which should be enough to support most cars. Bigger vehicles like large full-size pickups and SUVs may need a 4 ton jack. It’s also important to realize that the jack won’t be supporting 100 percent of the vehicle’s weight, but it will be doing a lot of work the closer to the engine it is.

One final thing to consider when looking at a jack is what material it’s made out of, and how good the build quality is. Jacks with more metal components, nice even paint finishes, and fancier materials are showcasing their construction, and will likely last longer than models with sloppy paint jobs and plastic components. This item is going to lift your car off the ground, it should be sturdy and robust feeling, rather than cheap and toy like.

How to Jack Up a Car Safely With a Scissors Jack

how to safely jack up a car

Photo Credit: Kenny CMK/Shutterstock

You don’t have to go to the gym to get jacked, at least when it comes to your car. You just need a solid jack to do the job and you can finally understand all those “bro, do you lift?” memes.

If you want to change tires, brake pads, rotors, or even get to your oil pan to change your oil, then you’ll want to jack up your car. A jack is a handy tool, and many cars come with a scissor jack to help someone change tires, but that kind of jack is only suitable for changing tires and not bigger jobs. It’s not the easiest item to use and doesn’t have a great weight rating. In comparison, a floor jack would do the job much quicker and easier.

But quick and easy is one thing, safe is another. This guide will explain how to safely use a floor jack to lift your car.

  1. Only use jacks on flat and level ground. Gravel and sand-covered surfaces aren’t a good place to use your jack because the loose nature of them can lead to instability, which can cause a lifted vehicle to feel unstable on a jack. Then use chocks or bricks to brace the wheels of the car. Finally, apply your car’s parking brake.Apply parking brake firstStep 2: Use wheel chocks
  2. From there, find your vehicle’s jack point. For the best information on where they are, check your car’s owners manual. Typically, there are at least four of these jack points on a car and they’re normally on the chassis, on the driver or passenger side of the vehicle, and close to the wheels. You can usually spot them because they have a slight indent or perforation along the chassis rail.Step 3: Find jacking points
  3. Line up the jack point to the flat part of the floor jack, and start pumping the lever. This will raise the jack up to the jack point and begin lifting the vehicle. If you’re using a bottle jack instead of a floor jack, then the lifting process is very similar, but if you’re using a scissor jack, like what’s commonly found on spare tire kits, then you’ll need to screw the jack to lift it. Step 4: Place the jack under the jacking pointStep 5: Raise the jack until it's seated on the jacking pointStep 6: Attach the crank to the jackStep 7: Crank the vehicle to the desired height
  4. Once the wheel is in the air, line up your jack stands under the car, someplace close to the jack point. You need to then lower the vehicle onto the stands, either by releasing a valve or using the lever to lower the lift. While it’s on the stands, you’re home free! You can remove the tire as needed or use a roller chair or mechanic creeper to get under the car, and when you’re done, you can raise the jack to lift the vehicle off the stands, then remove the stands and then use the jack to lower the vehicle.

Be sure to remove the chocks before driving the car away after lifting and lowering the vehicle! Or else you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.

 

Recent Updates:

March 16, 2022: Added hands-on review of Pro-Lift  F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack. Updated How-To sections.

February 18, 2022: Updated link for Jegs jack.

December 21, 2021: Expanded FAQ section.

December 13, 2021: Removed Blackhawk jack from recommendations, added Pro Eagle 3 Ton Kratos. Added Daytona 1.5 ton jack and Hein-Werner 4 ton jack to recommendations. Expanded FAQ section.

December 8, 2021: Updated information for Arcan 3-ton jack, and gave it Editor’s Pick. Removed Torin jack from recommendations.

March 18, 2021: Since many floor jacks are very similar when it comes to features, we’ve removed several recommendations to make it easier to shop for the right floor jack. We’ve also updated some of our recommendations with newer and better models. Images were also updated for some products and content was edited for clarification.


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Photo Credit: thanom / Shutterstock.com. Pro-Lift Jack photos Credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com