For an inexperienced vehicle owner, lifting a vehicle with a floor jack can be a challenging task. If unsafe lifting techniques are used, the heavy weight of a vehicle is sufficient to cause serious injury or even death. Always follow the steps mentioned below to lift your vehicle. As a disclaimer, floorjackadvisor.com always insists that you must read the owners’ manual of your vehicle before attempting any service. Furthermore, floorjackadvisor.com will not be responsible for any injury that may cause to you and/or any damage that may happen to your vehicle while following the following guide.
Table of Content
Make Sure to Have Proper Equipment
Before lifting your vehicle it is necessary to have all of the equipment listed below
- Eye protection
- Floor Jack (with a lifting capacity equal or greater than the weight of your vehicle)
- A pair of Jack Stands
- A pair of Tire / Wheel Chocks
- Plywood (if needed)
When a vehicle is lifted, entire weight, which was generally spread out evenly among the contact patch (the area of the tire that makes contact with the ground) of the tyres will be concentrated into a smaller contact patch under the wheels and casters of the floor jack.
The same theory applies when supporting the vehicle with jack stands. It is important to be sure that your floor jack and jack stands are resting on a surface that is hard enough to tolerate this concentrated weight. Even though concrete surfaces can handle a concentrated weight, surfaces like clay, dirt, grass, and many asphalt are not so. The best practice would be moving your vehicle to a proper lifting surface. If moving is not possible then you need to place a plywood (at least 5”- 8″ thick) under the floor jack or jack stands to distribute the weight more evenly over the surface.
Locate Lifting Points of Your Vehicle
This can be challenging. If you get it wrong, it can be dangerous and will potentially damage your vehicle. The best way to find proper lifting points on your vehicle is to refer the owners’ manual of your vehicle. The information is normally collated in the “Emergency” section. If you are unable to locate the manual and still needs to know the correct information, you can get the assistance of the Automotive Lifting Institutes (ALI). $10 guide HERE. Another cool alternative is to search the Internet for a forums related to your vehicle and ask the forum community where the lifting points are.
Immobilize the Vehicle
You should make sure that the vehicle stays in place throughout the lifting process (engaging the parking brake is not sufficient). If the vehicle roles while lifted it is possible to slip off from the floor jack or jack stand and results serious injuries or even death. Before lifting the best practice is to immobilize the vehicle by placing tire chocks. They should be placed on both side of the tire which is on the opposite and diagonal side. For example, if you are using the lifting point closest to the driver’s side tire then you would place tire chocks on both sides of the tire, which is at passenger rear.
Position the Floor Jack and Lift Your Vehicle
Once your vehicle is immobilized and identified the proper lifting point you should move your floor jack in a way that the saddle (the part of the jack that contacts the vehicle) directly below the lifting point. In order for the jack to lift the saddle when pumped by holding the pressure, the hydraulic valve should be put to the closed position. You can do this by turning/twisting the handle clockwise until it locks itself. Then you can begin to move the handle up and down slowly until the saddle is about 1 inch down from the lifting point. Double check whether the saddle is going to contact with the exact and intended lifting point and the saddle does not damage any other part of your vehicle and you can continue to move the floor jack further up raising the vehicle to the desired height. Note: During the lifting process, it is quite normal for the floor jack to role slightly due to the way the lever system of the floor jack operates.
Support Your Vehicle with Jack Stands
Floor jacks CAN and WILL fail. If you are totally relying on your floor jack to keep the vehicle up while you work under it, then you are risking your life. Let us reiterate; floor jacks CAN and WILL fail. This is the step that so many people neglect, but carries more risk. We can find enough of horror stories of people being crushed by their vehicle due to floor jack failures. Do not risk it! Once the vehicle is raised to the expected height, keep a Jack Stand with sufficient weight capacity under the axle close to the tire/wheel or under the lower control arm of the vehicle. Turn the floor jack handle slowly to counter-clockwise until the floor jack slowly lower the vehicle onto the Jack Stands. Give the vehicle firms shake to be sure that it is firmly resting on the Jack Stands.
Now, your vehicle is properly lifted, secured, and stabilized so that you can work on and under your vehicle safely.