Types of Car Jacks And How to Use them Correctly

Tire changes, braking, and leak checking are just a few of the reasons why you need to jack up your car. If you’ve ever done vehicle maintenance, you know the importance of jacks. Most car owners who are unfamiliar with vehicle maintenance are unaware of the complexity of using a jack and can unknowingly compromise safety. Hence, it is important to know how to use the jack correctly.

In addition, you need to consider the various jacks that exist and are suitable for your car. Let’s find out some of those types and how to use them properly when getting the car off the ground.

  • Scissor Jacks

Scissor jacks are the most common type of jack and can be purchased as standard jacks on most vehicles. They are portable when fully closed and do not require much maintenance other than oiling or greasing the parts.

The scissor jack is a sort of mechanical jack that includes hands connected at their ends through hinges. Each of its arms connects to the bottom of the jack and the other to the saddle that creates contact with the lifting point of your vehicle. Each arm is split into sections, with some other hinge in between. These hinges are unique due to the fact a screw runs thru them. These hinges may be introduced near each other by simply turning the screw clockwise. This causes the hands to increase and raise up your car.

The scissors jack mechanism is simple, easy to operate, and is often a reliable option. However, the scissor jack is not intended for routine maintenance and is an option offered by the car manufacturer in an emergency such as replacing a flat tire on the go. Heavy loads cannot be lifted and are typically rated at 3000lbs. Be sure to check their ratings before using them. Otherwise, the screws may bend or break.

  • Bottle Jacks

As the name implies, a bottle jack looks like a cylindrical container. These are a type of hydraulic jack that uses the force of Pascal’s Law when lifting.

The bottle jack comprises of two cylinders. One is smaller than the other and has a hinged piston inside that is connected to the outside hinge. The hinge is connected to  the lever, allowing the smaller piston to move up and down. There is  hydraulic fluid inside the cylinder, and when you move the lever, it is pushed into a large cylinder. The larger cylinder has a saddle on the outside that connects to the car’s jack point.

Due to the difference in the diameter of the piston, the power can be exchanged with a constant hydraulic pressure. The applied force doubles each time you turn the lever, making it easier to lift the car. To put the car on the ground, you need to turn the screw counterclockwise. Turn slowly so that the liquid in the large cylinder is not released immediately and the car does not hit the ground.

Bottle jacks have a small form factor and are easy to store. It also has a  lifting capacity of up to 50 ton more than a scissor jack, but in most cases a 2 ton rated jack will suffice. The 2 ton (4000 lbs) jack is relatively inexpensive and can lift most sedans and SUVs, making it an ideal  jack  for home repairs.

  • Floor Jacks

Floor jacks are another type of hydraulic jack that uses the same operating principles as bottle jacks. Both have different designs. In a bottle jack, all the force is transmitted vertically, but in a floor jack, the lever pushes the fluid and rotates the arm up, converting the force from horizontal to vertical. There is a saddle at the end of the arm that connects to the jack point of the car and fits comfortably in the body of the jack when not extended. Therefore, the jack is close to the ground and is ideal for low-profile cars.

In addition, the jack has a wide base and is fitted with wheels, which allows the jack to be placed more properly when lifting the car. This wide base increases stability and prevents the jack from tipping over as the car leaves the ground.

The disadvantage of using jacks is that they are very bulky jacks and are not easy to store. For this reason, you can find it at a car repair shop that has ample storage space.

Using a Vehicle Jack Correctly

If used incorrectly, lifting a car can be a dangerous task and can lead to cuts, bruises, and even death. You may hesitate at first, but it’s a good idea to start by reading the owner’s manual.

Here are some tips you need to know before lifting your care for your safety.

  • Make positive the automobile is on stage ground. It gives a solid base for the auto jack and stops any immoderate weight from being exerted on it.
  • If parked on loose ground or mud, place the jack on a wide base plate or wooden board for added stability when jacking up the car.
  • Make sure your car is in the park, has the brake turned up, or in first gear (if manual) so that it doesn’t move and fall while being raised off the ground. Consider investing in wheel chocks for extra safety.
  • Do not use the jack for a long time. If you want to get your car off the ground, consider investing in a jack stand instead.
  • Check the jack before using it. It should be evaluated against the weight of the car. Please refer to the owner’s manual for these specifications and Jack’s rated stickers. Look for Jack’s flaws. Scissor jacks can bend or break hinges and screws, and hydraulic jacks can leak liquids. Remove them completely once before using them in your car to see their function.
  • If you are using a busy freeway or highway, turn on the hazard lights and wait for help. Changing car tires in such locations can endanger your life and the lives of others.

Lifting Your Vehicle

Once you have taken all the necessary safety measures, you can proceed to jack up your car.

1. Find the lifting points on your vehicle.

The owner’s manual emphasizes some points near the front and rear wheels where jack saddles are placed to jack up the car. Moving the jack can damage the underbody and cause the jack to tip over, leading to costly repairs.

2. Position the car jack.

Place the jack so that  the jack is below the jack point. The saddle is connected to the lift point so you can adjust its position.

3. Lifting the vehicle.

If you have a scissor jack, use the included crank to turn the screw clockwise until the car is sufficiently off the ground.

If you have a bottle or floor jack, make sure the screw is turned clockwise before setting the lever in place. Move the lever up and down to lift the car.

With every jack, you’ll sense the weight of the auto as you elevate it up.


Knowing how to use the car jack is one of the most basic skills that every car owner should know. Meet all safety requirements before lifting to help in an emergency. As with any skill, it takes practice to master. After trying a few times, you’ll find that it’s a fairly easy task.

If you want to know more about this topic and how to jack up your car safely, the Owner’s Manual is the perfect resource. If you still don’t know, ask an experienced professional for help. They may be able to guide you better.

Ask help from our car experts here at HEART Certified Auto Care to learn more about the needs of your vehicles.