Floor Jack Buying Guide 2017
Do you know what the one thing is that no mechanic, technician or garage owner can live without? Screwdrivers and wrenches aside, for vehicle repairs the most important part of the garage inventory has got to be the floor jack. If you own a car and plan on doing some work on it, or you just opened up a garage, a floor jack needs to be at the top of your list of things to buy.
Buying a floor jack is a risky business. This is the device that will hold a heavy vehicle up while you work on it or even under it. If your jack should fail, you will end up with some serious injuries. Jack failures have led to death in the past, so be careful! Do not, if you value your life, buy something that is either unbranded or overly cheap for the features offered. Anything that even smells unreliable has to be avoided like the plague.
Top Selling Products of 2017
|view pricefull review||Arcan|
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JEGS Performance Products 80006
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|view pricefull review||Hein-Werner|
The Different Types of Jacks
Before you check out the top ten hydraulic floor jacks for the upcoming year, you should understand what the different jack types are, and how you can benefit from each kind. There are many types out there, each with variations in price, quality, and function. Picking one that suits your needs perfectly is the best way to ensure that your car work goes off without a hitch.
These are the most common jacks on the market. They have been around for decades now. Garages all over the world have at least one of these in their inventory. More commonly known in the professional circles as a trolley jack, it is instantly recognizable.
The trolley jack stays low to the ground. It is built for ease of motion and has four wheels at the bottom so it can be wheeled around. The body of this jack contains a hydraulic system which lifts a vehicle when a handle (sometimes more than one) is pumped up and down. The handle is typically removable.
A hydraulic system works by amplifying any force applied to it. Every little push you give to the handle is translated to a much larger lifting force due to the hydraulics. If you have a garage, you should have a hydraulic jack, regardless of what type of vehicle you have in the garage. This is a multifunctional, versatile and reliable workhorse.
If you own a car, you own a scissor jack. Nearly every new car has a scissor jack included in the trunk. It is small, light and easy to use. This is by no means a service jack but is useful for quick tire changes on the go. It works by turning a screw in one direction or the other. The rotation is translated to lifting force because of the scissor-shaped arrangement of the jack.
Bottle type jacks
These are shaped like a bottle standing normally. They have a single hydraulic piston that can lift directly upwards. Because of their height, they won’t fit under a normal car, although they are perfect for trucks and larger vehicles. A detachable handle can be used to lift the jack up, and down. Buy one of these only if you have a vehicle with a higher clearance level from the ground. Also remember that a bottle jack is only safe if it is operated on an even surface. The smaller area over which the stability is provided results in a tendency to rock on uneven surfaces.
What Makes Floor Jacks the Best?
There are many advantages that floor jacks or hydraulic jacks have over their counterparts. Each of these solidifies the reasoning that a floor jack needs to be a critical component of your garage. Check out these advantages and watch as the realization dawns that you do really need a hydraulic floor jack:
Hydraulic jacks are a lot faster than their siblings, the scissor types. Because of the way in which they function (using hydraulic systems), they only take a few pumps of the handle to raise some pretty heavy loads to their maximum height. The better models of hydraulic jack even have dual handles for faster lifting. In stark contrast, scissor jacks require as many as 30 turns of the screw to lift your car up even halfway. You shouldn’t have to put in that much effort to do a small lift.
One of the best parts of the floor jack is that it is very stable. The jack has a large surface area on the base, plenty of positions to grip the floor from, and are one of the most durable types of jack. They don’t move at all, not even when lifting loads of up to 3 tons. In contrast, both scissor jacks and bottle jacks have a far smaller base area. This leads to them tilting on uneven surfaces, which can cause some serious safety issues. However, this doesn’t mean that you should feel safe about simply lifting the car with a floor jack and working under it. Always make use of additional stands to support the car. This way if the jack fails, the stands will keep supporting it for as long as is necessary.
Easy to use
Have you ever used a floor jack before? If you have, you know just how easy it is to work one. They are one of the simplest jack types out in the market right now. From the actual operation of the device to the simplicity of the functioning, this is the jack that will make life far easier for you. All you have to do is push the handle up and down, and the vehicle will lift as far as you want it to. Lowering it involves gently twisting the handle so that the hydraulic pressure is reduced in the arm, causing it to move downwards. When you compare this to the standard scissor jack in your car, which involves blood, sweat and tears galore, you know just how lucky you are with a true blue floor jack by your side.
What to Think About When Buying a Floor Jack
When you go to the hardware store looking for the perfect jack, you have to think about a bunch of different factors. Don’t listen to the recommendations of other people alone to influence your buying decision. Remember that most people recommend what they use for their own vehicles. More often than not, your car isn’t going to be suited for the same model or type of jack. Pay special attention to these details when you check out the specifications of jacks at the store.
The capacity of a jack is the amount of weight it can lift without buckling. This is basically the maximum weight the jack can handle safely. Typical floor jacks are rated in tons (that’s really how much they can handle!). Two and three-ton jacks are the most common type by far, although others do exist. When you are out shopping, make sure that the jack you’re getting has a capacity that is larger than the mass of your car. Even if you don’t ensure this, you should remember that only a fraction of the vehicle’s weight is going to be placed on the jack itself – only one corner is typically lifted, which is about 60% of the total weight of the car.
If you’re confused as to the weight of the car and working with all those numbers, go with a general formula. If you have a small or medium sized car like a compact, coupe or sports model, get a 2-ton floor jack. For larger sedans, SUVs, and minivans, a three-ton jack is better. If you own a truck, jeep or a large van, you will have to work with one that has a capacity of four or five tons. While it isn’t essential that you stick to this rule, it might be best if you did. If you’re at a store, though, you can always ask the people there by telling them your car’s model and figuring out the best jack for you.
Build quality and material
The material of which your jack has been made should be a deciding factor too. Most normal floor jack models are made of either steel, aluminum or an alloy of the two. Typically, you would be able to get a lower price on a steel model than an aluminum one, but at a cost. Steel is nearly twice as heavy as aluminum, which means that it can be far less portable and a lot bulkier. The lighter, prettier aluminum jacks are in demand by reason of their quality, but you would wind up paying quite a pretty penny for this premium material. Neither is less safe than the other, although if you’re someone who plans on bringing the jack to races, you will need the portability that the aluminum has to offer.
Back in the day, all jacks were standardized in terms of their height and profile. However, car designs have changed in the last decade or two. The design of jacks has been adapted and evolved over this time to fit the different models of vehicles better. With people lowering cars manually or buying low-clearance models, floor jacks that sit lower on the ground are rising in popularity. If you have a low car, you will have fewer options available to you, especially if you did it on your own. To pick the right clearance for your jack, you have to know the clearance of your car. The last thing you need is to take the new gadget home and not even have it fit under your car!
The maximum height is the distance off the level of the ground that the jack you buy can lift your car. The arm can only extend so much before it reaches its limit. Some of the better floor jacks out there have about 20 inches on this rating. Pick your poison based on how far you want your car to be lifted: cars with lower ground clearance typically need a higher lift for work to be done on the underbelly of the vehicle.
Speed of lifting
This is a simple calculation. The measure is taken by the manufacturer. It is simply the number of times you’d have to push the handle in order to reach the maximum height of the floor jack. In general, though, all floor jacks are faster than the best scissor jacks due to their hydraulic system. You would typically use about 15 to 18 handle pumps to reach the maximum height. Some types of jacks offer dual handles, which basically halves the number of pumps needed to reach this height. Based on how much effort you want to put into the lifting process, pick your jack accordingly.
What you will use it for
This should be a major deciding factor in your purchase of a floor jack. Some jacks are suited to particular vehicle types, while others are more general purpose. Here are some buying tips you might find useful when you do go looking for a jack:
- For a car, there are two choices. If you use a compact car, sports car or coupe, you should go with a 2-ton capacity floor jack. For the larger cars like sedans, a 3-ton jack would serve you far better.
- If you use SUVs or pickups, opt for a 2-ton jack for the smaller trucks and a 3-tonner for nearly everything else. Most normal size SUVs and trucks require the 3-ton jack for lifting. Some oversized trucks might even need a jack with a 5-ton capacity!
If you’re on a budget, you might be worried that floor jacks will be way more expensive than you could possibly afford. The truth is that if you shop wisely, you might be able to get everything you need within your budgetary constraints. Typically though you should expect to pay a little more for high-quality floor jacks, you can count on in any situation.
Many department stores and supermarkets have their own cheap brands of jacks, but these are risky when compared to those from reputed manufacturers. Safety should be your number one priority when buying one of these, and cheap store models have been shown to have a rather higher rate of failure over time. Do not fall for the snazzy looks. If you take a deeper look at the build quality of such devices, you will clearly see where the costs were cut during manufacture.
A huge mistake that people make today is to depend on jacks that have been made in countries like the USA, Germany or Canada. Do not fall for the tricks of people who say that paying a much higher price for jack made in the USA is better than dying due to the failure of one made in Japan or China. In reality, these countries make some really high-quality jacks that are sometimes more reliable than their locally made counterparts.
The 9 Best Floor Jacks to Buy
Powerzone 380044 3 Ton Aluminum and Steel Garage Jack
This is a 3-ton floor jack by Powerzone that has been made of a hybrid between aluminum and steel. The frame of the jack is made of aluminum, which is light enough to make this quite portable. The arm of the floor jack is built of heavy duty steel that provides extreme resistance to bending forces and pressure. Of course, this is a hydraulic jack and can lift a vehicle up to a maximum height of 18.25 inches, which is really good. It lifts fast too, and the hydraulic cylinder has a safety valve equipped in it to stop it from being loaded beyond capacity – the fluid is released if the added weight is over the accepted limit. On the arm, the saddle has a rubber padding on it so that the frame of your car doesn’t get dented with use. While in use, the jack can be repositioned easily because of the capacity of the rear wheels to swivel as needed.
Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack – 2 Ton Capacity
This floor jack has one of the coolest features out there – the profile has been adapted to be extremely low to the ground. This makes it great for cars that have a low ground clearance. It can lift a vehicle up to 14 inches at the maximum height. This may not seem like a lot but is good enough for most garage purposes. With a maximum capacity of 2 tons along with an integrated safety valve feature that prevents the jack from getting overloaded, this is definitely one of the best out there. It is made out of heavy duty, high-grade steel so that it is a lot more durable. Overall, definitely a floor jack worth looking at.
Torin T83006 SUV Service Jack – 3 Ton
The Torin floor jack is called the Big Red because of its unique bright red color. It is built out of the best quality steel on the market right now. The 3-ton jack is extremely durable and very stable indeed. One of the best features of the Torin jack is that it has a higher surface area for the saddle, meaning that it can better support your vehicle without a risk of slipping or collapse. It can also be used in conjunction with a great and effective safety handle that will prevent nasty accidents while using the jack. The wheels on this floor jack are swivel-capable so that the unit can be moved around with ease. A maximum height of 20 whole inches makes this one of the tallest in the business and is the perfect pick for anyone who owns an SUV or small truck.
1.5 Ton Compact Aluminum Racing Jack with Rapid Pump
While steel construction may be amazing for some purposes, aluminum is the material of choice for racing jacks. This racing-oriented floor jack has been built out of lightweight, high-end aluminum for the highest maneuverability in its class. The handle is also made of the same metal and is knurled to improve grip in high tension situations. There is a special release mechanism included in the design of this jack, which makes lowering it smoother and far more accurate, and is small enough to be stored and transported with ease. In addition to this, the blue color of the unit makes it a wonderfully unique part of your garage! Starting with a 3-inch clearance and with a maximum height of 14.75 inches, this 1.5-ton capacity floor jack is the right fit for any racing team.
Arcan XL20 Black Low Profile Steel Service Jack – 2 Ton Capacity
Built by the famous manufacturer Arcan, this floor jack is good for lifting any vehicle with up to 2 tons of weight. It is extremely sleek in its design and sits low on the ground for better lifting of vehicles with lower clearances. In fact, this is the perfect jack for lifting sports cars and coupes. Made out of a durable, high-grade steel, it has the added advantage of being quite cheap in terms of cost. Lifting is a lot faster with this jack too, especially due to the dual handle that can lift the art twice as fast as any other single pump model on the market. Fitted with a safety valve to prevent overloading while in use, this is the safest, most awesome car floor jack out there.
Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack – 3 Ton Capacity
Another awesome production by Arcan, this is a floor jack with a high capacity of 3 tons. This capacity makes it ideal for any heavier vehicle like a full sized car, SUV or even a small pickup truck. The frame has been constructed of aluminum, which keeps the weight of the jack at an all-time low of just 56lbs. In addition to this, the arm of the jack has been reinforced to keep it highly durable while lifting your vehicle to a maximum height of 18.125 inches. Dual pumps that have been perfected by Arcan serve you well with this jack, lifting it in half the time of a normal jack. The rear wheels can swivel, and the jack sits low to the ground for additional ease of use with low profile vehicles. It also features some nifty additional features like dust shields for the pistons and bypass valves to prevent overloading of the jack.
Liftmaster Hydraulic Trolley Floor Jack 2 Ton Heavy Duty Car Lift
The Liftmaster floor jack is a hydraulic type jack that has a unique saddle. It can swivel on its own over an angle of 60-degrees, allowing for more versatility of contact with your vehicle. It is also very lightweight even though the frame is made out of tough, heavy duty steel. This allows for the jack to be repositioned with ease, which is very important for more high-pressure situations. One of the best parts of this one is that it has a frame that is coated with a finish that is very resistant to corrosion, along with a range of about 13 inches when fully extended.
3 Ton Heavy Duty Ultra Low Profile Steel Floor Jack with Rapid Pump Quick Lift by Pittsburgh Automotive
Pittsburgh Automotive is famous for its high-end products that don’t cost you too much considering what you get for your money. This steel construction jack is one of the lowest you have ever seen. It can be slid easily under vehicles that have an extremely low clearance. This is a very useful feature. In addition to this, the jack is very stable because of the rear caster wheels which are extra wide for added functionality. The saddle of this jack is padded to prevent nasty bumps to the vehicle, and the entire device can be lifted to its maximum height in just 4 pumps of the dual handle system. With nearly 24 inches of lift height possible on this jack, you can be sure of the very best service ever.
What You Need to Buy Alongside your Floor Jack
Just buying a floor jack on its own may not be enough for all the different things you need to do. You also have to consider other accessories. Some of these contribute to the safety of the operation of the jack, while others are simply there to make your life better.
Most floor jacks are advertised as being heavy duty. You can’t take this as a guarantee that they will hold up to any and all forms of abuse that you subject them to. Remember that no matter how durable a part is, failure is always an option that is lurking around the corner. Never work on a vehicle that has no jack stands on it while being propped up by a jack. Jack stands are simply additional supporting struts that can be placed under a lifted vehicle and extended to the height needed to support the car that is being lifted. When buying these, look at their capacity, lift height and other factors that you would focus on for a normal jack.
If you don’t know what these are, know that they could possibly save your life some day soon. These little gadgets are the simplest objects in a garage, yet can be among the most important too. They are wedges that you would push behind the wheels of your car while lifting. Make sure that you place the chocks on the opposite side of the lifting direction. Their purpose is to ensure that the car doesn’t roll when you lift it too high. They usually come in pairs and can work in tandem with your ebrake and other parts of your car that promote safety to prevent it from moving while you are working on it or even under it.
Ramps are exactly what you think they are. If you have been considering a small home garage or something bigger, you’ve probably seen these in action already. They aren’t as handy as floor jacks but can be used when it is necessary to do little jobs on your car. A good example of this is doing a quick oil change. Remember that when you lift your car using a ramp, you must never go under it without setting down some chocks for the wheels first. The last thing you need is the car sliding down the ramp and crushing you underneath it.
Keeping Yourself Safe While Using a Floor Jack
If you have never used one of these jacks, you probably have no clue as to the proper safety tactics to employ during your experience. Above all else, the most important thing to do is keep yourself safe. Common sense will definitely help you to do this, but some of the lesser known tips and tricks will serve you well in the future. Here are some that you should know.
- Never use a floor jack on its own
The purpose of a floor jack is simple. It lifts a heavy load, typically a vehicle. It isn’t, however, meant to support your car on its own after lifting it. Just like every other mechanical device ever invented, these have the capacity to fail. In fact, they tend to do it at a higher rate than most others! Hydraulic parts are very powerful lifters, but they also tend to cause more than a few scares while doing so due to the easily moved nature of their function. Wear and tear of the components under high loads is very likely indeed. Even worse is the fact that this kind of failure doesn’t give any indication of happening. For all intents and purposes, the jack looks like it is doing its job. Until it slowly but surely kills you, that is. To prevent this from happening, always use jack stands with your floor jack. One cannot be used without the other, or you will have a bad time.
- Use a smooth surface where possible
One of the worst things about scissor and bottle type jacks is that they tend to be pretty difficult to use on ground that is uneven or rough. Because of the way the base is designed, there is a chance that the jack could tilt or even buckle when placed at a bad angle. While your decision to buy a floor jack is one we really do support wholeheartedly, we also recommend that you don’t put too much faith in the wider base of this type of jack. It is true that a floor jack is able to resist tipping more than other types can, but it is still a dangerous game to play. There is always a chance of the jack failing or, more commonly, the car rolling downhill when jacked up on a slope. If there is any kind of incline, do not use a jack on your car. It isn’t going to end well for anyone.
- Do everything slowly
Speed kills, on the road and in the garage. If you are going to lift your car with the new jack you get, make sure you do it slowly every time. Unless you are on the pit crew of a racing team, you have no reason to rush into anything. Going slow means you see all the possible issues with the jack before they become serious. Better yet, lowering your car slowly means there is a lower chance of a sudden bump and damage to your car. Be precise, slow and controlled with all your motions.
- Pick your jacking points wisely
This is probably one of the best ways to avoid accidents in the garage while using a jack. You can’t just slide a jack under your car and pump away to get the lift you need. There are specific points underneath a vehicle that can support the forces from a jack lifting it up. You can see these either labeled when you crawl under your car or as little protrusions on the underside of the vehicle. Use them, because they are the least likely to slip and cause permanent damage to the car as well as anyone working on it!
So, there you have it. A buying guide for the best floor jacks on the market for 2017. You’ve also (hopefully) been able to get some prime safety advice at the end of the guide. Always remember to consider the different factors affecting your choice such as the capacity, size, lift height and build material (among others) when making your decision. Take things slow so that you won’t buy the wrong jack. Also, take the right precautions by buying chocks for your wheels and jack stands. With some wisdom and logical thinking, you should have the best jack for your needs.