Professional mechanics advise all drivers to have a jack in the trunk of their car when they are traveling. The two most popular options for travel or automotive repair are the bottle jack and the floor jack.
Whenever choosing between the two, the choice boils down to which jack is better for your own personal use and what you want to work on. This article will act as a guide and comparison on floor and bottle jacks and what they have to offer.
The Bottle Jack
Named after its shape, the bottle jack is placed vertically under the load to be lifted. The Jack bottle design allows it to lift much heavier loads at greater elevations. Its straightforward design makes it easier to use, making it great for speedy operations.
They are also smaller when compared to hydraulic jacks, which makes them easier to move and store. Compared to other options, bottle jacks are relatively inexpensive. Their pricing and convenience make them a favorite among truck owners and emergency workers.
When it comes to the drawbacks, bottle jacks have a narrow frame compared to other types of jacks. This makes them a lot less stable, limiting their use. They also have minimum lift heights, making them challenging to use when working on vehicles with non-standard clearance.
How to Use a Bottle Jack
- Place the jack underneath the vehicle you wish to raise
- To adjust the height of the piston, turn the piston in a counterclockwise direction
- After completing the above process, find the valve at the bottom of the jack
- With the valve, pump it up and down to change the height of the car raising and lowering it at your will
Advantages of Bottle Jacks
The bottle jack is the most popular form of jack. Here are some of the reasons that have contributed to its growth and proliferation:
Bottle jacks are designed to be as lightweight as possible while maintaining their productivity. This makes them easy to carry around and convenient as you can easily move them to your workstation. These qualities have driven their mass adoption, especially when compared to other types of jacks.
These jacks have also found popularity with DIY mechanics because they are easy to lug around and use.
They are efficient
The jack’s popularity has a lot to do with its effectiveness at lifting loads. The jack’s design allows it to lift very heavy loads while maintaining its structural integrity. You can find bottle jacks capable of lifting loads ranging from 2 tons to 50 tons. Make sure you get the correct rated jack for your load to be lifted safely and effectively.
Bottle jacks are the most affordable kind of jacks on the market. This factor, in large part, is why it is used by many people from truckers to DIY mechanics. Their cost is lower than other jack variants like the hydraulic and floor jack.
Though they are cheaper they do not differ from other types regarding effectiveness. If you are on a budget, you can seldom go wrong with a bottle jack.
These jacks are relatively small thus easy to store and move around. You can squeeze them into little spaces without much worry. In apartments and small shops where space can be a premium, a bottle jack is a great choice.
Cons of Bottle Jacks
It has a narrow frame
The bottle jack’s small size means it has a narrow frame which makes it likely to tip. When used, the large weight of the vehicle is distributed in a narrow space. This makes it unstable and likely to tilt over and collapse.
Feature a minimum height
Unlike floor jacks, their minimum lift height is high. This makes the jack more suited to trucks and other vehicles with a lot of ground clearance. This also makes it inefficient for use with smaller vehicles.
This jack lies under a vehicle and is placed under a hydraulic cylinder. They may look small but they are incredibly sturdy. They are mostly used in heavy-duty constructs to hold things as work is done on the bottom.
Floor jacks are popular but can be quite expensive. However, when well-maintained they can last a lifetime which makes them worth the investment. The floor jack is the best option for use in automotive applications.
How to Use a Floor Jack
Before you begin working with your floor jack, make sure you familiarize yourself with the safety tips concerning the machine. This will ensure you and the people around you are not hurt.
- Place the floor jack under your load
- With the handle make several pumps to raise the load
- Keep pumping until the load is at the desired height
Advantages of Floor Jacks
Ease of use
The floor jack features a long handle and a dual pump system. In just three to four pumps, you can manage to lift or lower a vehicle. It is great for quick lifting, making it popular among mechanics. Since they have low height limits, floor jacks are great for use with sports cars that have low ground clearance.
Though floor jacks are expensive at first, after maintenance costs are accounted for, they are relatively inexpensive. They are made to last as long as possible especially when considering they are built for heavy-duty use. This piece of equipment will be used for years to come if well maintained.
Unlike a bottle jack, floor jacks have a much wider base weighting the car distributed over a wider area. This increased stability means the car is less likely to tip over. The horizontal design ensures the weight is spread more evenly compared with other jack types.
Floor jacks can be quite heavy. As such, they come with wheels so they can be moved from one place to another. A lot of them are constructed with lightweight yet sturdy aluminum. This ensures they are durable and as lightweight as possible.
Cons of Floor Jacks
Low Height and Weight Limit
Since they are designed horizontally, they are limited in how much weight they can hoist. However, a 3-ton floor jack is enough for most use cases.
Floor Jacks are Bulky
Floor jacks take up a lot of storage space when compared to other options. Their size can make them troublesome when adjusting them to work efficiently. The wide design also makes them more difficult to store.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I use a bottle jack for?
They are primarily used in commercial activities to decrease the time and effort it takes to lift loads. They are popular among truck drivers for tire changes and are needed where the clearance might be too high for other jacks.
How safe are bottle jacks?
Typically, they are quite safe. They use oil that helps build up enough pressure to lift the car. Their narrow base means they tend to be unstable; using regular bottle jack stands can help stabilize them and enhance their safety.
How high does a bottle jack lift?
Bottle jacks come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes offering varying heights when lifting different loads. The key is to get the jack that works best with your vehicle. On average, a bottle jack will raise about 5-22 inches above the ground which is great for most jobs in the automotive industry.
Can a 2-Ton Jack Work for a Truck?
Although most jacks have safety valves that allow them to work past the rated weight, you should only work with the weight the jack is rated for. Exceeding the weight can be quite dangerous as the car could tip over and hurt someone.
Getting the right type of jack that caters to your vehicle’s needs is important as it can make a difference when you are stuck by the roadside with a punctured tire. Drivers should have a jack in their vehicle at all times in case of an emergency. Ensure your jack matches your type of vehicle and has the right lift capacity.
Although a bottle jack and floor jack serve the same purpose, they are used in different spaces. A bottle jack is great for use with vehicles that have high clearance. Floor jacks, on the other hand, are more popular in construction or large auto shops.