We all are looking for ways to save a buck here and there. One of the common ways I save is by doing my own car repairs and maintenance- the minor ones. To do this, at times I have to go under the car and this requires jacking it up onto jack stands and this in itself carries its own risks.
I don’t want to save that coin and leave my loved ones in debt, do I? So, I have to observe safety measures every time I undertake work on my car.
Today, we look at the safety measures that you can take when using a jack stand.
Safety tips to follow when using a jack stand
Firm Flat Ground
The firs safety measure when it comes to working with jack stands is to use them on the firm flat ground, clear of debris. Park the car or truck somewhere flat preferably paved ground without any debris that can cause a slip.
The importance of this is to obey the law of gravity. A slant on the surface in which the jack stands will be resting on, will tip the balance of the vehicle and cause an accident. The use of paved ground rather than loose soil is in order to mitigate the risks of sinking under the weight of the vehicle.
Engage the parking brakes and wheel chocks/ locks
After parking the vehicle, ensure to fully engage the parking brakes. Have the gear lever either in gear or in parking mode, never on neutral. With this done, use wheel chocks behind the rear tires and in front of the front tires. The chocks can be made of wood, plastic, metal or rubber.
Read the car owner’s manual
Next, you need to go through the owner’s manual. This is to ascertain the curb weight of the car so as to use the right jack standsfor it. This is of utmost importance because if the jack stands cannot support the car’s curb weight, they will buckle under the weight with you underneath and we don’t want that.
The other reason is to identify and use the designated jack pointsand support locations as indicated. Most SUV’s and trucks have steel frames chassissupporting them but nearly all cars nowadays are “unibody”. For these, you will have to use the safe jack points.
Quality floor jack
Always use a high -quality floor jack. Every time before using a floor jack, test it to ensure that it is in perfect working order. Test it with your hand or foot to ensure that it engages and disengages, as it should.
However good a floor jack is, it should only be used to lift the vehicle off the ground. Holding the vehicle up is the work of a jack stand.
Quality of the jack stand
You should never take chances with your safety. Use quality jack stands made of either Aluminum or steel.If you can, read the support manual to understand its proper procedure for safe use.
The load capacity placed on jack stands should not exceed 50% of its rated capacity. An example I can give is this, a jack stand with 8 tons rating, has a maximum load permit of 4 tons. It is also advisable to always use the stands in pairs.
Work with a friend
When working on your own car doing minor repairs and routine maintenance, it is wise to have a friend around. A buddy with car knowledge is preferred but any friend can do. At the least, he/she can help hand you tools as you work and in a worst-case scenario, call 911 if an accident happens.
The process of jacking up a vehicle and patching it on jack stands is not a work to rush through. Work slowly, ensuring that every step is done well. After jacking the car and positioning the jacks on the safe jack points, be gentle when lowering the floor jack to settle the car on the jack stands. A sudden bump can topple the jack stands and see the car come crashing down.
For added safety, use extra support tires and wooden blocks (minimum of 4”x4”) placed under the vehicle near the jack stands. These are to catch the car in case of an accidental slip, you can never be too sure.
Following the safety procedures and using both the floor jack and jack stands correctly will surely give you a lot of security. Be sure to never ever place any part of your body under a raised vehicle not supported by jack stands. Nice workings.