There are many reasons that would need you to get to the undercarriage of a car. These range from simple repairs to routine maintenance work. Whatever the reason, you will have to properly jack up the car before any work commences. Here is what you need to know.
- Quality floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks/ locks (plastic, wooden, metallic or rubber)
- Firm-Level ground to work from
- Tires or wooden blocks
Familiarization with the car
Go through the car’s owner’s manual in order to identify the safety procedures of jacking up the car. Identify the safe jack points of the car where the floor jack and the jack stands will be used. These points are small divots near the wheels.You should also identify the curb weight to inform on the right jack stand to use.
It’s also advisable to go through the lifting and supporting equipment’s manual to understand their proper use.
Park on a firm level ground
Before you start, ensure that the car is parked on a firm level ground. This can be a paved ground or asphalt. Also, ensure that the area is free of debris.
Having parked the car, apply the parking brakes fullyand ensure that the gear lever is either on the park position or in gear, never on neutral.
Apply the wheel chocks
Wheel chocks to use can either be plastic, rubber, wooden or metallic. Ensure to place these on all the tires that will be resting on the ground. For the rear wheels, place them behind the wheels while for the front wheels, have them in front of the tires.
Wheel chocks are important in securing the car when you jack it up. They prevent it from rolling especially if your work is on the rear wheels. When you jack up the rear, the front wheels can still roll since the parking brakes work only on the rear wheels.
Before commencing with the lifting, ensure that all the required items are reachable. Have them arranged nearby, preferably on the side you will be working on.
Test the floor jack to ensure it is in perfect working order. Do this with your foot or hand to ensure it engages and disengages, as it should.
If you will be going under the car, I would advise having a buddy around. He or she can be of help handing you the tools, and in a worst-case scenario, call 911.
Lifting and applying the Jack Stands
The first thing is to identify the safe jack points as outlined in the owner’s manual. Get your floor jack and place it under the jack point on the side you want to rise, leaving room for the jack stand then lift the vehicle high enough for the repair job you want to do.
Take your jack stand and adjust it to the proper height, place it at the jack point and lift it to a tight fit. Ensure that all the safety precautions are followed as per the jack stand’s manual.
Gently lower the floor jack to have the car resting on the jack stands then remove the jack stand.
With the jack stands fastened, you will need to ensure that they are properly secure. Do this by testing them with your hands. Shake the stands gently and do the same on the car itself. If there is any wobbling, you will have to repeat the procedure. Readjust the jack stands to rest properly on the safe jack point, leaving no room for movements.
Extra Safety Precautions
Since you want to finish the work and get out safely, it never hurts to take extra measures. Place tires or wooden blocks under the car near or on the jack points to hold the car incase of an unforeseen incident.
Following the steps will enable you to easily do your routine maintenance checks yourself. Safety is paramount and if in doubt, consult a professional and do it practically with him or her before doing it by yourself.