A floor jack is quite essential when it comes to lifting vehicles. Without a proper jack; it is almost impossible to be able to lift a vehicle off the ground. Vehicles tend to be quite heavy and if proper precaution is not observed, the process may end causing serious injuries and in some cases, even death. It is one thing to own a floor jack and a totally different thing to use it in the right manner. If you have never operated a floor jack before; you should follow these guide so as to ensure that you are using it in the right way. This will prevent damages to the vehicle and injuries to yourself.
It is advisable to check the vehicle’s manual as well as the floor jacks manual so that you can enhance your safety through proper use. Here are some key elements to bear in mind when using your floor jack.
How To Safely Use a Car Jack?
✓✓Preparation of the Floor Jack:
Vehicles are quite heavy if you have to work underneath the vehicle, you should make every effort to enhance your safety. Take time to make all the necessary preparations before lifting the vehicle and going underneath. First and foremost, ensure that you have protective clothing like safety goggles, coveralls, gloves and steel-toed footwear whenever you are using your floor jack. Before placing the jack under the vehicle, inspect it and the other accessories like the jack stand to ensure that they are working as required.
Be sure to check that the floor jack has the capacity to lift the weight of the vehicle. All floor jacks will have a maximum weight capacity rating. If your vehicle has items inside, account for the extra weight; if you cannot offload the vehicle. Part of the preparation is to ensure that the vehicle is parked on a flat surface; preferably a concrete surface. This will guarantee the proper stability of the jack and the jack stands when they are supporting the vehicle. You should never make any attempts to jack the vehicle on an uneven surface as this may result into a serious catastrophe.
✓✓Identify the Jack Points on the Vehicle:
This is one of the most delicate and tricky bits of using a floor jack. If you place the jack on the wrong points; it will damage your vehicle and you will not achieve the desired performance. If you do not have any idea of the jack points on your vehicle, you should refer to the vehicle’s manual, mostly under the emergency section. You will get all the information that is required including the jack points that should be used. In some cases; you will find the vehicle marked in specific places, which are the optimal lifting points of the vehicle. If you do not have that information; you can use the internet and search for the lifting points of your vehicle.
✓✓Place the Jack and Lift the Vehicle:
One you have parked the car on a flat surface and have identified the jack points, you can place the floor jack into position. The saddle of the floor jack should make proper contact with the frame of the vehicle at the identified lifting point. You should check to ensure that the valve of the hydraulic floor jack is in the closed position. This is the only way that the jack will be able to hold pressure and lift the saddle when you start pumping. If the jack is not labeled properly, just turn the handle clockwise, up to the point where it stops.
Once all this is done; you can start lifting the saddle slowly and check to ensure that it is in contact with the right place. If the saddle is in the right place, continue pumping slowly, until the vehicle is lifted to the desired height.
✓✓Use Supporting Accessories:
Irrespective of the type of hydraulic floor jack you are using; there is a very high likelihood that it will fail. You can never fully depend on the floor jack to support the vehicle while working underneath; this taking a huge risk with your life. There are many people who will choose to leave out this section; but I consider it to be the most important. Once the vehicle is raised to the desired height; place jack stands that have adequate capacity to support the weight of the vehicle. When the jack stands are in place, twist the jack handle counter-clockwise until it starts to lower the vehicle on to the jack stands.
You should never work under a vehicle that is not supported as this may cost your life or serious injuries. Besides the jack stands, you should also chock the wheels opposite to the vehicle that you are working on. The wheel chocks will prevent the car from rolling off while being supported by jack stands. When using jack stands; ensure that you have a matching pair and you should use a single pair per vehicle so as to get excellent support and avoid fatalities.
The key to the safe use of a floor jack and the jack stands is the surface that you are working on. When you attempt to lift a vehicle on the surface that is not leveled; you are increasing the risks. You should also ensure that the surface is not soft; since soft surfaces may cause the jack stand to start sinking and this will affect the stability of the vehicle. If you can follow this guide and be able to use your floor jack safely, then you will be able handle a number of maintenance tasks under your car. This saves you the cost of having to go to an auto shop every other time.
You should not attempt to use the floor jack if you are not sure how you should go about it. Consult your mechanic if you are uncertain about a particular issue so as to enhance your personal safety and also avoid potential damage to your car.