Step-by-Step Guide How to Safely Raise a Car Using a Jack

Learning to use a car jack is a necessary step to mastering the DIY automotive maintenance skills that drivers need to be able to handle small breakdowns like flat tires. Most jobs that require a jack also require other safety gear, and understanding how to set yourself up for a safe project is an equally important part of the DIY experience.

Gathering Necessary Tools

No matter what the job is, you should be prepared to handle the entire process before you raise a car. That goes for any DIY project from changing tires after a flat to replacing your shocks. Once you have a vehicle lifted, it is not safe to leave it unattended while you search for tools, even if you have additional safety precautions like jack ramps in place.

Sometimes things just happen, so preparing your toolkit and planning every step of the job before lifting the car minimizes the times you might be drawn away. That also minimizes the time the car is lifted, which helps control risks. In addition to gathering tools, you should also use this time to clear the area so that there are no bystanders who are not working on the project.

Safety Precautions

Using a jack safely requires a flat, even surface. Setting a standard manual jack on gravel, sand or other loose surfaces can provide opportunities for the jack to shift under a raised vehicle. If you are doing a project that requires work underneath the vehicle, you also need jack stands or ramps to stabilize the car so that you do not have to rely on the jack holding.

Jack stands need to be placed carefully, but they avoid the potential point of failure that all jacks have, which is the malfunction of the mechanism that keeps them lifted. You can add stability to either stands or floor jacks with jack pads designed to keep contact and weight distribution even when you lift a vehicle.

If you are changing a tire or performing another task that does not require you to go under the car, it is generally safe to work with a well-placed jack for a short period. Finding the right location to lift the car is as important as finding a stable surface. To find the jack points on your vehicle, check the owner’s manual. They are generally behind the front wheels and in front of the back ones, but the exact position changes. Those points are designed to be safe for lifting the vehicle.

Maintenance & Inspection

Before you lift the vehicle, the last step should be to check the jack you are using for maintenance issues. It is also a good idea to perform a regular maintenance inspection of your floor jack the way you would for any equipment with serious safety concerns attached to its use. Once it passes inspection, all you have to do is place it and raise the vehicle. Preparation is almost all of the work.

High-performance hydraulic jacks are generally reliable, but like all tools, they need to be properly cared for if you are going to enjoy them for a long time. Start looking into proper maintenance for floor jacks like yours today, because every jack design is a little different.

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