Almost all kinds of car maintenance involve keeping our wheeler off the ground: removing wheels, inspecting your brakes, or changing oil, for example.
And it would be very smart to learn how to jack up a car without a jack and how to properly jack up a car with jack stands. As a rule of thumb, you should never put your body under a vehicle that is only kept up by a jack—Use jack stands, seriously. It is very dangerous to work without them: lifting your car is one thing, but keeping it up safely is another entirely.
- If the surface you’re parking on is soft or liable to break, lay a flat piece of wood to support the jack stands.
- If the roadway is slightly inclined, park next to the curb and turn your wheels so that they touch it, preventing the car from rolling out of control.
- You can use this trick if you don’t find anything to chock your wheels with as well.
- If you must lift your car and there’s traffic, don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights—place your emergency cones, flares, or pylons to divert traffic from you.
Start by ensuring everything is in order; park your card on a hard, flat surface to prevent it from slipping. Generally, you want to avoid parking in your yard, as dirty isn’t reliable enough and might end up shifting; hard concrete will always be superior.
It never hurts to check that your car is properly parked: set the brake and make sure the transmission reads “p,” if your car is manual, put it in the lowest forward gear.
Chock The Wheels
Any wedge-shaped block will do, but try to use metal or rubber chocks. They’re meant to keep the wheels from rolling should the car shift, so place a chock in each opposite end of the car—If you can’t get your hands on the metal or rubber chocks, bricks, cinder blocks, large rocks, or wood pieces shaped like wedges will do.
How to Jack Up a Car with Jack Stands
To start, I suggest you get a buddy to help you while you perform the maintenance of your vehicle—They don’t have to be knowledgeable about cars, their mere presence is assuring enough—, should something happen to you while you’re working, they can easily assist you or call for help, possibly saving your life.
You ought to take a good look at your car and job; depending on the task, you might need to lift just one wheel or end, or, in some cases, you might need to lift the entire car.
The first step is preparing your gear, both lifting and supporting; one end will require at least two jack stands (shouldn’t need more than that, unless you’re lifting a truck) so to lift the entire vehicle you will need four.
Almost all wheelers have several points along the body that indicate where the car is designed to be jacked. Refrain from lifting your car somewhere else: its own eight may cause damage to the frame or other parts (such as the exhaust) and it may slip and crash down.
Broadly speaking, there are jack points on each side in front of the back wheels and behind the front wheels; you might also find jack points behind the bumpers. Different companies use different ways to mark these spots, but it’s common to notch the metal or even label it with “jack” on the undercarriage.
If you’re not sure about which points you can jack, refer to the manual, it will always point you in the right direction.
Slide your lift and lift your car up; make sure it’s somewhat lined up with the jack point. Steadily make your way up to the car until the jack contacts with the metal, then keep working on it till corner of the car is a few inches away from the floor—Pay attention to any sound or movement you hear, it is imperative that the jack doesn’t slip or shift, it can do it only slightly, and it is expected.
Worth mentioning, keep your body as far as possible from the car while you lift it. Better safe than sorry!
Not an Understatement
I’ve seen many mechanics use the jack to support cars while they work underneath it. Saying that this habit could cost them an arm and a leg is not an understatement, but very much factual.
Once you’ve lifted your car, slide your jack stands underneath and adjust them in place and height, locking them in place with any pins or pawls, if applicable—Use wood blocks to support the stands only if you need to, as the wood may split.
With the stands in place, slowly lower your jack until the car rests on the supports. If you’re lifting the entire vehicle, make sure you fully lift and support one end, work it down, and then lift the opposite end.
Make sure that your stands have solid footing: Read as, not wiggling or moving. If they are, lift it up a bit and move the supports; lock the stands.
Wrap up by gently shaking your vehicle to confirm it’s locked in place; if it is, it won’t move. You’re now ready to work!
How to Jack Up a Car Without a Jack Quickly
If you need to lift your car but forgot to bring your jack, don’t panic! Here’s how to jack up a car without a lift:
Drive one of your car’s wheels onto a curb, and turn the wheel so that it sits tightly—It should give you ample space to work underneath that side, and you can be sure your wheeler won’t fall on you—, don’t forget to chock the wheels with rocks or wood blocks for good measure and you’re good to go.
If you need more space, you can park an entire side onto the curb.
Hopefully, this article taught you how to jack up a car and use jack stands. It never hurts to be careful, especially when you’re putting your body underneath several tons of metal that could potentially crush you!
Good luck with your car, and stay safe!