How to Jack Stand your Car

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If you have never used Jack Stands before then you to need to read on to find out the best way to Jack up your vehicle. While a Jack Stand is a handy tool – if not well used it can be disastrous.

If you plan to do some car repairs like changing your brakes or an oil leak, then you will need to lift the car off the ground. You can use the various jacks available – hydraulic, scissor or bottle.

Lifting several thousand pounds of car weight can be dangerous. If the Jack fails – and they do fail often – it can be disastrous if you are underneath. That is why Jack stands where developed. To give your car stable and secure when doing repairs.

Once you have purchased Jack stands – check out our article on the best jack stand review – the next step is to position them around the car’s pinch welds carefully.

The Jack has the sole purpose of raising the car off the ground and should not be used to support it. Some people use cinder blocks and other objects – including the spare tire – for support.

These methods are very unsafe. Cinder blocks are subject to breakage and stones can cause more harm to your car’s bodywork. There some factors that you need to consider before placing those Jack stands.

Car Body frame

If you have a truck and some types of SUVs, then the frameis separated into the rear and front while most cars have a full frame. Each of the vehiclehas recommended places to place the jack stands. You will also need to consider the distribution of the car’s weight.

Some have more weight in the front than in the rear. Now how the frame holds the cars’ engine and suspension. Your car’s manual offers valuable information on where to place the Jack Stands.

Most of the full framehas the lift points under the frame while for the unibody they are found in the rocker panels. Check behind the front wheels for notch or projection.

Since you cannot place the Jack and the stands together, you will have to look for another place to for the Jack stands. As a precaution avoid areas where there electrical wires and brake lines. Suitable locations include the axles or the differentials.

Make sure that they are a distance apart and the car is secure. You can use Jack stand adapters to protect your car frame from damage. In some vehicles, you can use the trailing axle. Avoid the engine components and the oil pan.

Protective Gear

Make sure that the area you are going to work on is solid ground. Concrete is most preferred. Avoid fresh earth. Wear protective clothing when working in the garage. Wear goggles to protect your eyes and gloves for your hands. Clear any slippery fluids in the garage and make sure the garage is well light.

Lifting the car

Step 1: Drive the vehicle onto solid ground. Engage the park gear and put the brake. If you have wheel locks, place them in the rear wheels. Some people enormous boulders for this.

Step2: If you want to change the tires then use the breaker bar to loosen the nuts. Do not completely remove them but leave them loose. Locate the lift points and attach your jack to them. Lift your car off the ground to a level where the wheel can be easily removed. Use the breaker bar to remove the nuts completely. Since the nuts are loose, you can also use your fingers.

Step 3: You can now place the jack stands on the lift points. Suitable locations include the suspension mount, tow hook and the cross members). You can set them one at a time. Remove your tire after you have ensured that the car is in a stable position. Ensure that you have put all the jack stands on the same height to keep the car on an even level.

Step 4:Once you are done with the repairs replace the wheels and nuts. Raise the car a bit higher with your jack and remove the jack stands. You can tighten the nuts once the vehicle is safely on the ground.

Pin or Ratchet Type Jack Stands: Which is more secure?

Jack stands usually have four interconnected legs at the base. When it comes to safety, you can either have the ratchet mechanism or a pin style. In the pin style locking system, the bar that holds the car weight has holes in them that you put in place a compact pin.

The pin can rest on the top of the base,or it can pass between the flexible tube and the top base. More modern jack stand pins pass between the topbase and the flexible tube.

Pros

  • Pins are strong enough to withstand the pressure
  • Most preferred Jack stand for Heavy vehicles
  • You do not have to jack up few millimeters like the ratchet to release pin

Cons

Pins often break. Have a spare every time you are working with the stands

With a ratchet system you pull out the supporting bar to a specific height,and the locking system automatically locks itself into place.

Pros

  • Automatic locking system
  • You can make tiny height increments
  • Using fine adjustment, you can relocate the Jack stand to another place if it’s getting in the way.

Cons

You will need to jack up the car a few inches up to release the ratchet

Both jacks stands offer pros and cons. Depending on the vehicle you are working on you can choose either. For heavier vehicles use a pin style-locking jack stand while for small increments the Ratchet mechanism is preferred.

Ramps vs. Jack Stands: Which are Best?

If you have a car and do not want to incur additional costs hiring a mechanic, then you have to decide on how you will lift your car. Your options range from ramps, jacks, and jack stands. Inbuilt hydraulic systems are the other rare options; though they are costly. The challenge is between the ramp and the jack stands.

Car Ramps

If you have gone to a service station or auto car, you will often encounter the ramps. Using them is very easy,and most of the mechanics prefer them to other methods.

All you have to do is drive through the ramps and when the car is firmly in position to engage the handbrake and use wheel clocks at the rear to prevent the vehicle from falling back. Have someone guide you through the ramps.

Due to the large surface area offered by car ramps most people can attest to their safety. Unlike Jacks, you do not have to fear the hydraulic mechanism failing. The other benefit to the car ramps is that they are very affordable. If you can calculate the overall costs of buying jacks and jack stands, then the ramps have a clear win.

The downside is that it can be hard changing the car brakes as the wheels offer support instead of jack stands. There is also the probability of the car sliding if the area around the ramps is wet. They are also not portable like the jack stands. You will have to use them in a fixed position.

Jack Stands

Jack stands require one to have intimate knowledge of the cars lift points. To use them you will need to engage the parking brake on your vehicle, jack up the car with your jack, and use wheel clocks on wheels that will remain on the ground. Once the carhas been lifted, slowly lower you jack until the car is only sported by the jack stands.

The advantages of using Jack stands are that they are very portable. Unlike the ramps, you do not need precision hoisting the car. Jack stands offer greater flexibility when working underneath the car. The downside to using the Jack stands is that they do not allow for a margin of error.

If you place them in the wrong place along the pinch welds, they can destroy your car’s bodywork. If one Jack stand is poorly positioned and breaks,the car will come crashing down on you. Jack stands are not meant for beginners. You will need some form of tutorial to use them.

Jacks stands and ramps are very different. If you do not have prior experience with maintenance work, you can choose to begin with the ramps. Jack stands offer the most flexibility due to their mobility but are more prone to accidents than ramps. Your garage size could also be a determining factor when selecting the two.

Conclusion

Jack stands are an important tool to use in your garage. However, they require a bit of a tutorial before using them. Placed in the wrong lift points could lead to disastrous results.

The car can come crashing on you. It is equally important to check the Jacks stands condition before any maintenance work begins. Some of the Jack stands are made from iron or steel,andtheymaybe susceptible to rust. Keep them away from moisture.

How to use Jack Stands is a continuous process that is worth the your time. A good place to find information on how to use your Jack stands is the car’s manufacturers manual. Read it before any maintenance work.

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Steven Reilly
Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.

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