This is one of the most common questions when it comes to buying a floor jack. Which is better, and why? I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer, but let’s dig in a little and see.
The primary reason that floor jacks are made out of aluminum is to decrease their weight. Steel is a denser metal than aluminum so if you were to weight identically sized blocks of steel and aluminum, the steel would weigh more. The question that most people as if a floor jack made of aluminum is as strong as one made of steel. Well, let’s look at that in the next section. Some of the other reasons that floor jacks are made out of aluminum are that it looks cool, can be color dyed, and doesn’t corrode (rust).
Many people have an inherent mistrust of aluminum when it comes to strength. Maybe it because so many things we typically identify with being made out of aluminum feel, well…weak. The truth is that depending on the grade of aluminum and the process by which a part is manufactured aluminum parts can be every bit as strong as steel. Some even stronger. If this weren’t the case you wouldn’t see things like floor jacks, jack stands or airplanes made out of aluminum. The strength of an assembled item Its not so much based on the strength of the underlying metal, but on how the individual parts are designed and assembled.
Cost of the Material
The price of steel and aluminum is continually fluctuating based on global supply and demand, fuel costs and the price and availability of iron and bauxite ore; however steel is generally cheaper (per pound) than aluminum. The cost of raw materials has a direct impact on the price of any manufactured product. There are exceptions, but the material cost of two identical parts (one made out of aluminum and one out of steel) the aluminum part will almost always cost more. With that being said, keep in mind that the cost of material doesn’t always represent the final cost of the finished product. If it costs much less to cast an aluminum part than it does to forge a steel part then it is possible to have an aluminum part cost less as a finished product.
The Bottom Line
So the bottom line is that you really shouldn’t worry about strength if you buy a high quality aluminum floor jack like the Arcan ALJ3T. These jacks are put through rigorous testing to make sure that they can handle the rated lifting capacity. If you need the jack to be easily toted around then aluminum is the way to go. You are going to pay more for an aluminum floor jack that lifts the same amount of weight as a steel one, but hey…it is going to look a lot cooler too.