One of the most vital skills one must learn if you are going to be working on your own vehicle is how to use an automotive jack. There’s a lot of reasons to use a jack to raise the front or rear of your vehicle. Changing your tire is the obvious one, but other jobs like checking your brakes or suspension work will also require you to raise the vehicle using jacks if you do not have access to an automotive lift.
Along with this vital skill, you should also be aware of the safety rules that may involve your DIY project, we have a Top Ten list here. After you’ve read those ten very vital things, the 11th is the automotive jackstand, which is a mandatory part of raising your vehicle using an automotive jack.
This section explains how to use a Jack safely and efficiently, for more information on how to change a tire click here.
What is an Automotive Jack?
Automotive jacks are tools used to raise the vehicle off the ground. They should never be used to hold the vehicle in the air or in place. With the use of an automotive jack, there’s two items that must be used together with your jack. Those two items are the tire chock or tire block, and the automotive jackstand.
Always use jack stands when you work underneath your car; if you don’t, you run the risk of serious injury or even death. Always chock or block your wheels to prevent them from rolling the vehicle out from under the jackstands.
There are multiple types of automotive jack that one can use, the most common being the scissor jack found in the trunk of your car. This scissor jack is a small jack that is meant for light duty and will not hold up a vehicle for long periods of time.
How to Use an Automotive Jack Safely
- Always raise your vehicle on a flat surface or secure area – If circumstances dictate that your car won’t make it to a flat surface or a secure area, you must make the best of a bad situation. If you are stuck on a hill or incline / decline, park your vehicle close to the curb, turn the wheels toward the curb, and block the downside wheels securely to prevent the car from rolling.
- Never raise your vehicle on a freeway or highway – Not only can you be killed, injured or seriously hurt doing this by oncoming traffic, but this exposes you to possible carjackers who are looking for easy prey. Never exit the car on the side nearest traffic, rather call for road side service or AAA if you have a membership.
- Always use tire chocks – Never jack up a vehicle without blocking the wheels. Even if the car is on level ground, use something to block the wheels that are on the ground from rolling.
- Put it in Park – Be sure that your gearshift is in Park or first gear if your vehicle has a manual transmission, and raise your parking brake at all times when working on your car. The only time your parking brake should be undone is when you are working on the rear brakes or rear wheels. Use special front wheel chocks to ensure your vehicle does not roll if it’s rear wheel drive.
- Location – Don’t guess – You should never guess as to where you need to jack the vehicle up using your automotive jack. Part of knowing how to use an automotive jack is knowing where to jack it up at. Refer to your owners manual to see where they want you to place the jack and jackstands on the vehicle to raise it properly. Guessing can cause damage to your floor or chassis, and in a worse case scenario can damage fuel or brake lines.
- Test location – When you have raised your vehicle, test the movement by gently rocking the vehicle to ensure it’s stable. If there’s any movement, lower the vehicle and re-try. Never place the jack so that the weight of the vehicle rests on something that can bend, break, or give.
That does it for our How to Use an Automotive Jack article, for more DIY and How to goodness, come to My Pro Street