Protect yourself with floor jack safety knowledge. This is one topic that brings back a bad memory. When I was just a kid growing up my neighbor was killed by his own vehicle that slipped off of the floor jack and landed in his lap.
He was performing a brake job and trying to save a few dollars by doing it himself. Not following standard safety protocols cost him his life. This was in part because he did not take the time to put a couple of jack stands that he already owned under the vehicle. I personally prefer to use ramps and only lift a vehicle at home with a floor jack when it is completely necessary.
Floor Jack and Stands for Safety
When I do my own oil changes, I scoot under the vehicle and do not use a floor jack at all. I only perform this lifting of the vehicle activity when it is absolutely necessary and always use extra jack stands for safety.
Yes a vehicle can be raised off the ground by a hydraulic floor jack safely. At the lifting end of the jack is what is called the lifting pad. The pad must be positioned under an area of the vehicle’s frame or at one of the manufacturers recommended lifting points. Your owner’s manual will list safe jacking points in a few different areas but is usually included in the spare tire section. Do not guess at where to place the jack.
Never place the lifting pad under the floor pan or under steering and suspension components. These areas may look strong enough to hold a lot of weight but are not.
Not only can these parts be damaged by the weight of the vehicle but when they let loose can cause severe injury to you. Floor jack safety tip 101. Never use a hydraulic floor jack to move something heavier than it is designed for.
Always check the rating of the floor jack and also the jack stands to be used on the vehicle. Then verify that the vehicle weight is below this rating. The (GVW) gross vehicle weight is in your owner’s manual and also on the driver’s side front door jam on most automobiles.
Safety stands also called jack stands are supports of various heights that sit on the floor. Make sure the surface they sit on is strong, flat and level. Concrete is preferred and blacktop areas could be unsafe due to softness.
I use 1 1/2 inch thick plywood under the jack stands on black top areas so they don’t sink into the surface. Safety stands are placed under a sturdy chassis member, such as the frame or axle housing to support the vehicles weight.
Once the safety stands are in position, the hydraulic pressure in the jack should be slowly released until the weight of the vehicle is on the stands. Like a floor jack, safety stands also have a capacity rating. Always use a stand of the correct size and weight rating.
Never put yourself under a vehicle when only a hydraulic jack supports it. Rest the vehicle on the safety stands before moving around the vehicle. The recommended reason for removing the hydraulic floor jack after it is safely supported on the stands, Is this will eliminate a hazard such as a jack handle sticking out into a walkway.
A hydraulic floor jack handle that is bumped or kicked can cause a tripping accident and also cause the vehicle to fall. Because of my bad experience with floor jack safety as a child I believe in using several redundant backups when lifting a vehicle and removing wheels and tires.
I own an extra sets of jack stands. I would rather be safe than sorry and take the extra minute or two to slide a few extra jack stands under the vehicle just in case something happens. Again my number one piece of advice is if you can get away with not lifting the vehicle then do not lift the vehicle.
Floor jack safety has no quitting time! Take a couple of minutes and review more tips to keep you safe when performing car repairs. This next page is an overview of the dangers of auto repair. Go from floor jack safety to auto repair safety. One of the newer sections of the you fix cars website is the video area. Most of these clips I made myself but I also got a couple of good ones off you tube. This next link takes you to the auto repair videos. Back to the homepage is the destination of this next link. Learn about the mechanic that thinks some can fix cars with good auto repair advice.