Floor Jack How-To: Safely Lifting Your Vehicle

 

Lifting a vehicle with a floor jack can be a daunting task for the inexperienced vehicle owner. The weight of a vehicle is enough to cause serious injury or even death if the unsafe lifting techniques are used. Follow the steps below to safely lift your vehicle each and every time. As a disclaimer, floorjackadvisor.com always recommend that you read your vehicle’s manual before attempting any service. Furthermore, floorjackadvisor.com will not be held responsible in the event that you injure yourself or damage your vehicle while following the guide below.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER EQUIPMENT

Before lifting your vehicle you need to make sure that you have all of the equipment listed below

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Floor Jack with a lifting capacity equal to or greater than your vehicle’s weight
  • A pair of Jack Stands
  • A pair of Tire/Wheel Chocks
  • Plywood (if needed)

SURFACE EVALUATION

When a vehicle is lifted, the weight that is normally spread out among the tire’s contact patch (the area of the tire that makes contact with the ground) is concentrated into the smaller contact patch under the wheels and casters of the floor jack. The same goes when supporting the vehicle with jack stands. It is important to make sure that the surface your floor jack and jack stands rest on is hard enough to support this concentrated weight. Most concrete surfaces can handle the concentrated weight, but clay, dirt, grass, and many asphalt surfaces cannot. the best practice is to move the vehicle to a proper lifting surface. If this is not possible then you will need to place plywood (5/8″ thick at a minimum) under the floor jack and Jack Stands to distribute the weight more evenly over the surface.

LOCATE YOUR VEHICLE’S LIFTING POINTS

This can be tricky, and getting it wrong can be dangerous and potentially damaging to your vehicle. The best place to find the proper lifting points on your vehicle is to reference your vehicle’s owners manual. The information is normally found in the “Emergency” section or the manual. If you can’t locate your vehicles manual and want to make 100% sure that you have the correct information you might want to order the Automotive Lifting Institutes (ALI) $10 guide HERE. Another alternative is to search the internet for forums related to your vehicle and ask the forum community where the lifting points are for your vehicle.

IMMOBILIZE YOUR VEHICLE

Its now time to make sure that the vehicle stays in place during the lifting process (Note: engaging the parking brake is not an adequate). If the vehicle roles while lifted it can possibly slip off the floor jack or jack stand resulting in serious injury or even death. The best practice for immobilizing the vehicle prior to lifting is to place tire chocks on both side of the tire on the other side AND axle of the vehicle (diagonal). For example, you are using the lifting point closest to the driver’s front tire then you would place the tire chocks on both sides of the passenger rear tire.

POSITION THE FLOOR JACK AND LIFT YOUR VEHICLE

Once your vehicle is immobilized and you have identified the proper lifting point you should move your floor jack so that the saddle (the part of the jack that makes contact with the vehicle) directly below the lifting point. In order for the jack to hold pressure and lift the saddle when pumped the hydraulic valve needs to be put in the closed position. You can do this by turning/twisted the handle clockwise until it stops. Once the handle no longer turns you can begin to slowly move the handle up and down until the saddle is about 1″ away from the lifting point. Double check that the saddle is going to come in contact with the lifting point and not damage any other part of the vehicle. Once you have verified the correct position of the saddle slowly continue to move the floor jack handle up and down to raise the vehicle to the desired height. Note: It is normal for the floor jack to role slightly during the lifting process due to the way the floor jack lever system operates.

SUPPORT YOUR VEHICLE WITH JACK STANDS

Floor jacks CAN and WILL fail. If you are relying on your floor jack to support the vehicle while you work on it then you are risking your life. Let me say it again, floor jacks CAN and WILL fail. This is the step that so many people leave out, but it is one of the most important when it comes to safety. I have heard countless horror stories of people being crushed by their vehicle when the floor jack fails. You might loose a limb, you might lose you life. Don’t risk it! Once the vehicle is raised to the desired height, place a Jack Stands with sufficient weight capacity under the vehicles axle close to the tire/wheel or under the vehicle’s lower control arm. Slowly twist/turn the floor jack handle counter-clockwise until the floor jack begins to slowly lower the vehicle onto the Jack Stands. Give the vehicle a firm shake to make sure it is firmly resting on the Jack Stands.

Your vehicle is now properly lifted, secured, and stabilized. It is now safe to work on and under your vehicle.

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