Whether you love working on your beloved vehicle or own an expert workshop, high-quality floor jacks are necessary for any garage. Weekend DIYers and car enthusiasts are fully aware of the convenience brought about by this tool. A jack is an essential requirement each time you wish to raise your vehicle for various reasons.
You require a functional jack to perform minor maintenance tasks like brake services and oil changes to more complex jobs such as transmission or clutch replacement.
Nonetheless, not every regular jack is created the same. Though many commercial jacks may be utilized on typical vehicles, you may require something different, like a hybrid floor jack, depending on whether you are working on a low-profile vehicle or a larger truck. For example, you will need to search for high-end jacks tailored to lift trucks for higher-than-normal truck owners, and a tuner will instead require a low-profile model.
Which Car Jack Do I Need?
Before contemplating vehicle repairs or maintenance, you should know how to pick a car jack.
Gravity maintains the truck or car firmly fixed on the pavement, and therefore the lifting capacity is a significant consideration when choosing a jack. Typically, cars weigh about 1,500kg, with some SUVs and trucks weighing up to 3,000 kgs. Therefore, you will need jack stands and a car jack while working on them.
How should you then pick the correct car jack for your particular application? There are various jacks to choose from when you want to lift a car, like a floor jack, scissor jack, farm jack, screw jack, Z-jack, and bottle jack. Our article focuses on the floor jack, particularly the low-profile floor jack.
Floor jacks vs. trolley jacks, are they the same thing?
Although a trolley and floor jack look and function quite similarly, they are different in their lifting capabilities, weight, and efficiency.
Trolley jacks are quite similar to floor jacks in that they are available in different weight classes, so users can depend on one of them to safely lift vehicles or machines of varying weights. They are also heavier than floor jacks, but fortunately, roll-on wheels make them easier to transport, especially over long distances.
If you want to easily differentiate a trolley jack from a floor jack, you’ll have to look at their outward appearance. Trolley jacks usually have a long pole and spring attached, which is not the case with floor jacks.
The Floor Jack
A floor jack is a stable, strong, and easy to maneuver tool used to lift vehicles more easily while offering a more rapid lifting process than other pricier tools. A wide floor jack offers extra safety features and greater stability than a narrow trolley jack. Since the lift arm moves in a curve, you require a smooth surface to facilitate movement of the jack frame beneath the vehicle. This is the perfect choice from an operator safety point of view since it is stable and offers sufficient room to insert a jack stand.
A floor jack may be termed a low-profile jack for low cars like sports cars and other lowered vehicles. On the other hand, a regular jack may provide maximum lift height capabilities and are thus perfect for SUVs and trucks.
A mechanic’s toolbox with the best low-profile floor jack makes the task easier and more efficient, particularly due to the rapid lifting feature.
Factors To Consider When Picking the Best Low Profile Floor Jack
If you value your car a lot, you might be reluctant to lift it with any floor jack offering maximum height. Therefore, before settling on the best low-profile floor jack to buy for your personal use or mechanic’s tool kit, you must be familiar with this handy tool. Below, we have highlighted the most crucial aspects of low-profile floor jack’s for you to make an informed decision while buying.
Electric Vs. Manual
We have two kinds of jacks when it comes to tools for jacking up your vehicle: electric and manual.
- Electric jacks are usually scissor-style. They serve by turning a big screw and pulling a pair of hinged joints together, pushing up the lifting platform, lifting the vehicle. From their design, the jacks cannot be low profile. The shortest of the scissor jacks are over 5 inches tall, too tall for a majority of the low-profile vehicles. Therefore, if you choose an electric jack, it will not be low profile; a manual jack is the way to go.
- Manual jacks are available in a wide array of styles, using hydraulic pressure to lift vehicles. The arms of floor jacks are long, with the wheels sliding beneath the vehicle and an extended, knurled grip handle pivoting up and down. As you lift and lower the handle, hydraulic fluid is pumped through the system, lifting the arm until it lifts the vehicle.
Type of Material
A good floor jack should be tough and robust to handle the weight of a unibody vehicle without bending or cracking easily.
Dependent on your jack model of choice, low-profile floor jacks can lift loads of between 2,000 to 8,000 pounds. Therefore, the jack must be made of superior quality materials as durability and strength are paramount.
Most floor jacks have an all-steel construction. Though the durable steel frame significantly contributes to the jacks’ weight, usually about 100 pounds, it consequently makes them strong. Therefore, you would want to use steel while lifting extremely heavy vehicles. Though it might rust with time, some regular pivot lubrication and frequent maintenance following every use should help with this.
On the flip side, a lightweight aluminum construction floor jack is a lightweight construction, at times weighing only 50 pounds, and fully capable of lifting many vehicles. In addition, you can easily roll the jacks around, they do not rust, and are sufficiently sturdy to lift the front of your vehicle off the ground without any challenge, thanks to the durable steel frame. The aircraft-grade aluminum construction lightweight floor jack might be your favorite aluminum jack largely because of the convenient weight.
The lifting arm is probably the most essential part of low-profile floor jacks. Though vehicles with great ride heights might not need uniquely designed jacks, lower vehicles such as modified and performance cars require something capable of getting to the jacking point of the vehicle without causing body damage. Therefore, the lifting arm design is a crucial consideration.
A classic floor jack arm slopes down to your lifting point, while many low-profile floor arms sharply curve to offer more clearance as you slide under the vehicle. This lets the jack’s lifting point get to the vehicle’s jacking point without causing damage to the body or crushing side skirts.
The whole idea of a low profile design floor jack is offering a bottom height that is sufficiently low to go underneath a low-riding vehicle while still being able to offer sufficient maximum height to lift the vehicle from the ground. Most of the best low-profile floor jacks have three or 3.5 inches bottom height, facilitating their ability to scoop lowered vehicles from the ground.
If you have a full-sized truck with massive tires for off-roading, consider getting a floor jack that can attain a maximum height of up to 22 inches. The lifting range will be enough to cater to the sports car in your garage without forcing you to buy another jack for your other vehicles with high ground clearance.
A floor jack’s lifting point is also known as a saddle. The size of the saddle can be a major consideration while choosing a floor jack. Reduced saddle sizes focus more pressure on a reduced region, which may lead to the caving of the jacking point in older vehicles. Additionally, an inch or two across, reduced saddle sizes may be challenging to place on bigger suspension components, like a ball joint or A-arm.
Nonetheless, a larger saddle, about three or four inches wide, may be burdensome to operate around fuel lines, brake lines, and other open components of compact vehicles. Therefore, you will have to be cautious with the larger saddles, though adhering to the manufacturer’s jacking-point guidelines usually solves the problem.
The maximum weight a floor jack can weigh is often 1 ton. One thing you need to note is that a floor jack will comfortably support up to 60% of your car’s total weight.
An ideal low-profile floor jack should be sufficiently compact to go under the vehicle while still being a powerful tool to lift the car from the ground. Taking an average compact vehicle to weigh less than 3,000 pounds, 2-ton low-profile steel jacks are usually adequate for safe lifting the back, side, or front without any challenges.
Bearing that in mind, some muscle cars and lowered SUVs may weigh anywhere between 4,000 to 6,500 pounds, meaning 3.5-ton jack capacity should be capable of safely lifting them. Therefore, though the main consideration is the vehicle type being lifted, it would be safer to use more jacks than required instead of a jack at its maximum weight capacity.
Rollers and Handles
A floor jack handle is what you will use to pump hydraulic fluid into the lifting mechanism to lift a vehicle. A longer handle makes pumping up the system easier. Additionally, such a handle is also helpful as you pull a large floor jack around; therefore, it is best to find one having a knurled grip for optimum grip.
Floor jacks are typically heavy, but the loads they are used to carry are usually heavier materials. Therefore, rubber wheels are not sufficient. Instead, robust steel, polyethylene, and rugged nylon wheels will make for the perfect jack in such applications. Durable nylon wheels, for example, have greater capabilities of handling the extra weight of the lifted vehicle and still roll relatively smooth across your garage floor.
A point you should always bear in mind is that floor jacks are not significantly easy to steer, maneuver, or roll. Therefore there is a great probability that they will frustrate you if you are a new user. Their main task is to get beneath the vehicle and lift it, not do figure eights on your garage floor.
Also, ensure you check on the quality of the jack’s finish before making a purchase. Buying a poorly constructed floor jack can put your life at risk. So don’t rush to purchase the cheapest floor jack for sale. Check the finish quality for signs of inferior body work. The first red flag should be a poor paint job especially if the floor jack is being sold as brand new. Also, check the customer review from reputable online retailers to ensure the reviewers are not bots. We advise buying from a popular brand known for making high-quality products.
Why We Recommend Floor Jacks Over Other Car Jacks
Some hydraulic jacks generally perform better than others in certain scenarios or settings. High-lift jacks are good for people with off-road vehicles since they are quite tall therefore offering a lot of ground clearance for easy repair of trucks. However, they can be quite hazardous since it is difficult to control the handle when carrying out repairs. They also require more strength to operate compared to other jacks and are not suited for cars with low ground clearance.
Hydraulic bottle jacks are another popular option which is mostly compared with the floor jack. They are compact in size, portable, and very affordable. Their major drawback is that they are unsuited for sports cars since they are tall and can only be mounted vertically. They are also less stable than low-profile floor jacks since they have narrow frames.
The simplest of all car jacks is the scissor jack. It is very popular since it is included in the spare tire kits by almost all reputable car manufacturers to make it easier for motorists to replace busted or punctured tires. Scissor jacks are small, light, and portable since they can be folded to save space before being stored for future use. They are also easy to use, so no training or maintenance is required besides regular cleaning. The disadvantage of using this jack type is that they are less stable compared to other alternatives and tiresome to use as you’ll need to squat or bend your knees to ground level.
Things to Note When Using Floor Jacks
Most high-quality floor jacks are safe to use, even for people with little experience or training. However, it is worth remembering that car jacks bear a lot of weight when a car has been suspended for repair or maintenance. Therefore, if you don’t take all necessary precautions during use, you can easily end up with life-threatening injuries in case of an accident. So, here is what you need to note when using a floor jack:
Ensure the Floor Is Even
You should only employ a jack stand when you have placed it on an even surface. Only use the jack stand when the car is to be lifted off the floor, and remember to properly secure it with a jack stand before use.
Block the Car Wheels from Moving
A car may begin to roll when you start lifting it off the ground. With that in mind, we recommend using bricks or other materials to stop the vehicle’s wheels from moving before jacking up.
Use a Jack Stand
A jack stand plays an important role in making the lifting process safe and stable. We strongly advise you use a jack stand before jacking up to prevent any jack-related accidents. Cars are very heavy, and a fall from a small elevated height could be catastrophic.
Read the Manual
The owner’s manual is the best way to learn how to properly jack a car. Ensure you carefully go through it prior to jacking up to learn the best spots for lifting and suspending the vehicle.
Engage the Parking Brakes in Your Car
Safety should be your top priority when lifting heavy machinery. To prevent the car from moving back or forth when lifting it, check to confirm that the parking brake has been engaged.
A low-profile jack is a straightforward tool. It is a jack, offering the lowest lifting capabilities than typical jacks. However, picking the best might be challenging due to the various models and variations available, including the knurled grip and hybrid construction.
Unfortunately, we cannot cover all the types of jacks available since there are too many. What is worth noting is that each car jack has its share of pros and cons. Floor jacks are good in general as they can be used to lift almost any type of vehicle. You will, however, have to accept its fair share of cons, such as bad maneuverability and bulky nature.
We hope that the information we provided in this article will be enough to assist you in making an informed decision on which feature-loaded high-quality floor jack to invest in by equipping you with practical information and features of floor jacks to look for while deciding between various low-profile floor jacks.