The 10 Best Car Jacks to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Car Jacks to Buy 2020

It doesn’t matter if it’s after a flat tire on the side of the road or a first home oil change in the garage. At some point in every car owner’s life, they’re going to need to lift their vehicle away from the ground to perform maintenance or emergency repairs.

As very few people on this planet can lift a car alone, let alone change a tire while doing it, that means everyone who drives a car is going to need to own a car jack eventually. But how do you know which is right for you? What makes a floor jack different from a trolley jack? If you’re asking these kinds of questions already, you’re in luck – this page was written just for you.

How to Evaluate a Good Car Jack

There’s tons that goes into figuring out what kind of car jack is good for you – everything from your make and model to the types of roads you drive on and the weather you do it in can make a difference in choice here.

Blindly buying a car jack is a great way to end up with a tool that won’t even fit under your vehicle – or might be too weak to hold it up, creating an incredibly dangerous situation for anyone nearby.

To help you make an informed purchase, we’ve broken down the criteria we used to evaluate these jacks for you.

Type

You’ll find a variety of choices of different types of car jacks, but they can mostly be broken down into options that use hydraulics and ones that don’t.

We have a lot more to say about your different choices in our guide below, so if you’re unsure of exactly what each car jack type means, make sure you check it out.

Capacity

This is the weight capacity of each car jack – how much it can lift without compromising its own integrity. Every jack we’ve chosen meets or exceeds the ASME PASE safety standards, meaning they should easily handle anything they say they can, but we do recommend caution when getting anywhere near the weight limit.

It’s best to go overboard where capacity is concerned. That means it’s important to know the weight of your vehicle and how that relates to tonnage (2,000 pounds is roughly one ton).

Lift Range

This is the height, from minimum to maximum, that the car jack can extend. Along with knowing how heavy your vehicle is, you’ll need to measure its clearance – that is, how much space there is between the underside of the vehicle and the ground below.

If your clearance is lower or close to equal to the minimum, you’re not even going to be able to get your jack under the car. Likewise, if your vehicle is too tall, even a fully extended jack might not lift your wheels. Always measure these things before making a purchase to make your life a lot easier.

Weight

Not all car jacks are created equal. Some are great for keeping in your trunk, light and easy to move around, while others are nearly hundred-pound hunks of metal designed to live on the floor of a shop or your garage. Make sure you match your needs and ideal use cases with the jack you’re buying, or else you may be stuck with a car jack you didn’t need.

Design

Design and convenience are the biggest elements that set the top car jacks apart. Under the design subsection in each review, you’ll find everything you need to know about the build quality, safety, and any unique features the car jack’s design itself provides. If there are design flaws or criticisms, we’ll also mention them here.

Convenience

This section is about general ease of use, transport, and quality of life things like warranties or customer support. With so many jacks to choose from, sometimes highly similar in use and design, overall convenience can be the deciding factor. We want to focus our attention on keeping our vehicles running well, not fussing about how to lift them.

With these aspects in mind, you should have a better idea on how we approached ranking this list. You can read on to see our picks for the top ten best car jacks money can buy, or head down to after the reviews, where we’ve got a detailed guide with everything you might want to know about car jacks.

Top 10 Best Car Jacks 2020

1. Best Overall Pick: Pro-Lift F-767 Floor Jack

Pro-Lift F-767 Floor Jack

Why we like it: A well-constructed, reliable hydraulic jack that’s simple to use and offered for a reasonable price - we found Pro-Lift’s F-767 Floor Jack a great all-around choice for anyone looking to add a jack to their garage. It’s our favorite choice for the average car owner.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Floor jack
  • Capacity: 2 tons
  • Lift Range: 3-½” – 14”
  • Weight: 30 lbs.

Design

This jack makes it easy to appreciate the simple joys of a basic floor jack. The low-profile design is perfect for getting under cars that sit too close to the ground for other jacks but can lift high enough to use on most sedans too. Our only let down was the lift range not being wide enough to use on compact SUVs despite having the capacity for it.

You might find yourself surprised at how deceptively light the packaging is once the Pro-Lift F-767 reveals just how large and sturdy it is. Despite that large size, well-oiled wheels make it easy to maneuver into place with the sturdy steel lever.

Convenience

This jack isn’t quite as portable as its smaller cousin we’ve also reviewed, but for a floor jack, it really is surprisingly maneuverable. It even comes with a carrying handle, which works in tandem with its relatively low weight to make it easy to move wherever you need it. It also builds pressure fairly quickly, meaning less pumping of the lever to worry about.

Verdict

You’ll be able to find fancier electric car jacks or behemoths capable of lifting even the largest of vehicles out there, but if you’re looking for a car jack that works great at home but is light enough you could throw it in the trunk in a pinch, the Pro-Lift F-767 will have you covered, making it our choice for the best overall car jack.

Pros

  • Simple, classic design executed well - very easy to use
  • Well-designed wheels provide great maneuverability
  • Surprisingly lightweight for such a durable jack
  • Low-profile design is great for low clearance vehicles

Cons

  • Lift range is a bit short, won’t work on higher clearance cars or SUVs

2. Best Premium Pick: ROGTZ Electric Scissor Jack

ROGTZ Electric Scissor Jack

Why we like it: For anybody looking for a car jack best described as ‘feature-packed,’ this is it. With a load of convenience features and no need for manual labor except unpacking it and sliding it under your car, the ROGTZ Electric Scissor Jack was our favorite choice for premium by far.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Scissor jack
  • Capacity: 2 tons
  • Lift Range: 4-¾” – 16-½”
  • Weight: 13 lbs.

Design

The basic design of this car jack makes it a classic scissor jack, but that’s where the old-fashioned influence ends. We loved seeing a jack that tries to innovate with modern technology. Operating this jack is as simple as pressing a button, literally. There’s an electric motor you can either power with a 12v outlet – like the ones car-based phone chargers plug into, or hook directly up to your car battery.

All of this is especially great for anyone who can’t bend over for the long periods required to operate a normal jack. Even if you’re just looking for pure convenience, this car jack is an awesome choice.

Convenience

ROGTZ really went the distance when it comes to convenience features here. You get the sturdy carrying case, an included pair of work gloves, and even a set of three extra fuses in case you blow any. On top of that, the jack itself is waterproof and includes a bright LED light on it, making it easy to use even at night or in the rain. Just about the only inconvenience here is the jack won’t handle inclines.

Verdict

It was a pleasant surprise to find such a premium offering in a settled market like car jacks. You’re not going to get out of a bind on an incline with it, and if for some reason you can’t draw power from your vehicle, you’ll have to use the included manual hand crank. But if the more traditionally designed scissor jacks on this page are a little too hands-on for you, this is an expensive but well-made upgrade.

Pros

  • No spinning a handle or pumping a lever - press a button and it lifts
  • Premium features at a great price - comparable to non-electric jacks
  • Robust carrying case provides great portability
  • Plugs into an outlet or draws power from a car battery, so you can use it anywhere

Cons

  • Will not work on inclines

3. Best Budget Pick: Torin BIG RED Scissor Jack

Torin BIG RED Scissor Jack

Why we like it: The Torin BIG RED Scissor Jack is a reliable portable emergency jack perfect for keeping in your trunk for flat tires. With the great budget price attached, this car jack is hard not to recommend for anyone looking for something light on the wallet.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Scissor jack
  • Capacity: 1.5 tons
  • Lift range: 4-⅛” – 15-⅛”
  • Weight: 7.7 lbs.

Design

The jackscrew that provides the heavy-lifting strength is prominently displayed on this bright red car jack. Torin seems to have set out to try and prove there’s still a place for older car jack designs on the market, and it’s hard to deny they’ve hit their goal.

Made of high-quality drop forged steel, you shouldn’t have any issues with durability or strength when lifting under capacity, as long as you inspect your jackscrew and make sure it’s in good condition before use.

We do think it’s worth mentioning the safety tips we have below when dealing with a design like this, as it really isn’t meant to hold out for an entire brake pad or oil change. Any time you’ll be leaving your car jacked for longer than it takes to change the tire, use jack stands.

Convenience

Because of its small size and weight, this jack is incredibly easy to store away and quick to put to use when you need it most. Fully flattened out, you might even be able to fit it in your trunk’s spare compartment – but always measure things like this ahead of time, before you make a purchase.

Like we mentioned in the design section, you always want to inspect mechanical devices for defects before using them. If there is a defect, Torin provides a warranty that will guarantee you a free replacement within a year of purchase, as long as the damage didn’t come from misuse. Do yourself a favor and always keep an eye on the condition of your tools, new or old.

Verdict

A no-frills, reliable budget car jack – there’s not much else to it, but you don’t always need more than that. If you still don’t like the sound of spinning a handle yet like the idea of a scissor jack, we’ve covered jacks that can take care of that for you.

As long as you’re using it properly and not putting it under more stress than it’s designed for, this Torin BIG RED Scissor Jack will see you through plenty of uses, and that’s why we chose it as our best budget pick.

Pros

  • Great for anyone looking for a car jack on a budget
  • Collapsible and compact, easy to store in your trunk
  • The durable yet lightweight material is the best of both worlds
  • Year-long warranty that covers all manufacturer defects

Cons

  • Potential quality assurance issues - always inspect your jackscrew before use

4. Best Bottle Jack: Torin BIG RED Bottle Jack

Torin BIG RED Bottle Jack

Why we like it: This lightweight, easy to use, and fairly priced bottle jack packs enough strength to lift even the heaviest vehicles on the market.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Bottle jack
  • Capacity: 6 tons
  • Lift Range: 8-¼” – 15-¹⁵⁄₁₆”
  • Weight: 4 lbs.

Design

Except for some specialized multi-purpose bottle jacks we’ve reviewed, you’ll notice the best of this type stick to the basics when it comes to overall design. The hydraulic piston is well-sealed but easy enough to bleed or refill if you end up needing to. The adjustable screw that caps off the piston gives you those extra few inches of reach, adding extra range to the clearance or making it easier to hit that perfect jack point.

Convenience

We found the BIG RED Bottle Jack surprisingly light and compact for its strength, making it a great replacement for the manufacturer provided bottle jack that usually comes stock in SUVs and trucks. You’ll hardly notice the absence of wheels when Torin’s offering is so light and easy to move around. Obviously, this excludes the higher capacity models – the heavier the load you’re looking to jack, the larger the bottle jack you’ll need.

Verdict

This bottle jack is best in class and easily competes with the top picks on our list. It wins out over our other bottle jacks thanks to the wide range of models available, ranging from a tiny 2 ton all the way to a 50-ton monster that could jack an entire house off of the foundations. Not to mention with proper maintenance, these should last you for years to come.

Pros

  • High enough capacity to handle the heaviest vehicles on the market
  • Compact size and low weight make it easy to store and transport
  • Capable of lasting years with proper care and maintenance

Cons

  • Higher capacities take a lot of time and effort to raise

5. Best Portable Jack: Pro-Lift F-2315PE Trolley Jack

Pro-Lift F-2315PE Trolley Jack

Why we like it: A great portable alternative to the larger floor jacks on this list, Pro-Lift’s trolley jack fits the niche of anyone who finds a floor jack appealing but doesn’t have a need for such a heavy-duty piece of equipment in their garage or trunk.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Trolley jack
  • Capacity: 1.5 tons
  • Lift Range: 5-¼” – 12”
  • Weight: 18 lbs.

Design

Pro-Lift continues to show why they’re one of the top manufacturers of car jacks with this down-sized version of a floor jack. They didn’t lose any of the reliability and build quality in the downsizing, but it’s not perfect.

You’ll definitely want to measure the distance between the ground and your car before getting a jack like this, because the biggest issue with it is the under 7 inches of lift range, easily one of the most limited on this list. Your vehicle will need to be in a bit of a Goldilocks zone for ideal use – not too close to the ground, but not too tall. Some people have had luck removing the wheels of their jack to get an inch or two more of clearance, but your mileage may vary.

Convenience

This makes for a great portable jack because of its weight, more comparable to a bottle jack than a massive floor jack. It’s only a little over a foot long, so it’ll easily fit in your trunk. There’s even a convenient carrying case, though some feel it could be a bit more durable.

Verdict

If you’ve ever been confused about the differences between a floor jack and a trolley jack, comparing this to its bigger sibling we reviewed is a great way to clear things up. What you’re losing in lift capacity, you’re gaining in portability, making this an awesome choice for compact cars. It’ll even work as a roadside jack in a pinch.

Pros

  • Carrying case and low weight make for great portability
  • The easy lifting and reliability of a floor jack but in a compact form
  • Wheels can be removed to help with the limited lift range a bit

Cons

  • Limited lift range means some cars can’t be lifted high enough to work on

6. Safest: Powerbuilt Alltrade All-in-One Bottle Jack

Powerbuilt Alltrade All-in-One Bottle Jack

Why we like it: Combining the lifting capabilities of a bottle jack with the solid support of a jack stand, Powerbuilt’s Alltrade All-in-One Bottle Jack is both versatile and one of the safest car jacks we’ve reviewed.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Bottle jack/jack stand
  • Capacity: 3 tons
  • Lift Range: 11” – 17-¼”, up to 21” if manually adjusted
  • Weight: 22 lbs.

Design

One of our favorite designs on this entire list, Powerbuilt’s Alltrade jack is something other manufacturers should aspire to. As we break down after the reviews, one of the most important car jack safety rules is to never go under a vehicle supported by a car jack alone.

The way this jack pulls double-duty means you won’t have to worry about placing jack stands – just lock the stand in place with the heavy-duty safety lock and get to work. That means if you buy more than one of these, you can use them together as a budget lift of sorts, turning your home garage into a real mechanic’s shop.

Convenience

Though a bit bulkier than the average bottle jack, it’s easy to forgive when you compare it to the size of an average jack stand and realize this does the job of both. Thanks to the great lift range, this is perfect for trucks, SUVs, and vans alike – but the 11-inch minimum clearance requirement means you’ll need more compact options for anything sitting closer to the ground. As usual, make sure you measure the gap between the underside of your car and the ground before making a purchase.

Verdict

We’re huge fans of the double-duty design Powerbuilt has pulled off here. Safety is the highest concern when it comes to working on your car, so being able to get the reliable support of a jack stand out of a hydraulic bottle jack can’t be praised enough. It isn’t as well suited for low-clearance vehicles as our more compact bottle jack options, but is a brilliant addition to the garage for anyone with the right car.

Pros

  • Can hold a vehicle almost two feet off the ground, giving easy access to the underside
  • Locks in place and doubles as a jack stand
  • Works great in tandem with itself

Cons

  • Almost a foot of minimum clearance required rules out small cars

7. Best OEM Replacement: Pro-Lift B-004D Bottle Jack

Pro-Lift B-004D Bottle Jack

Why we like it: Rounding out Pro-Lift’s car jack offerings, this is a great, basic bottle jack at a cheap enough price you can replace the OEM jack in your SUV or truck with on a whim.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Bottle jack
  • Capacity: 4 tons
  • Lift Range: 8” – 15-⅜”
  • Weight: 9 lbs.

Design

Extra attention has been paid to the durability of this simple looking bottle jack, the most stressed parts undergoing extra heat treatment. That means you’re getting a jack with parts that can stand the test of time. Thanks to its size it’s another jack that makes for a great replacement for the often harder to use jack your vehicle comes with.

We did notice some people have had issues getting the lifting piston to retract entirely, but lifting the jack from the bottom after unlocking it should give you enough room to pull it out from under your vehicle.

Convenience

This jack is light and easy to move around, another great choice for anyone seeking a good bottle jack for their collection. But we did find a few speed bumps where convenience is concerned. The instruction manual leaves a lot to be desired, covering only the basic operation and nothing about safety. It’s highly recommended you check out our safety tips on this page if you’re going for this jack.

Verdict

Pro-Lift’s Bottle Jack doesn’t stand out quite as well as their other car jack offerings, but that doesn’t take away from its quality. You’re getting a no-frills bottle jack with some extra attention given to durability, leading to a potentially longer-lasting jack.

Compared to the Torin Bottle Jack, Pro-Lift’s offering isn’t as available in as many sizes nor does it have as well written instructions, but you’ll find it does the job it’s meant to just as well as the competition, especially for the price.

Pros

  • Great replacement for your OEM bottle jack
  • Inexpensive but doesn’t sacrifice quality for the price
  • Heat-treated stress areas make for exceptional durability

Cons

  • Won’t retract as easily as some other bottle jacks - requires actual weight on the saddle
  • Instructions in the box aren’t as clear as they could be

8. Most Versatile: Torin BIG RED Floor Jack

Torin BIG RED Floor Jack

Why we like it: A durable high-capacity floor jack with a removable extended saddle neck and easy maintenance, the bright, cherry red paint job isn’t the only thing about Torin’s BIG RED Floor Jack that demands your attention.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Floor jack
  • Capacity: 3 tons
  • Lift Range: 6” – 21”
  • Weight: 45.4 lbs.

Design

As if it isn’t obvious at first glance, this heavy-duty floor jack packs a ton of strength and has one of the widest lift ranges on this entire list. Thanks to the removable extended saddle neck, it’s easy to use on everything from sedans to vans and light-duty trucks, as long as they don’t exceed the rated capacity.

With the saddle neck attached, it takes far fewer pumps to actually get your car lifting – which is a relief because a lot of people have complained about the short length of the handle, making it awkward to pump at times.

Convenience

We did find this jack a little expensive compared to the competition on this list. The biggest difference in practice between the two is the extra ton of capacity on the BIG RED, but it’s hard to justify such a large increase in price for a single ton. Otherwise, it’s easy to roll around thanks to well-designed wheels, and isn’t so heavy you can’t pick it up and store it away on a shelf.

Verdict

Though it’s priced at a higher point than similarly strong car jacks on this list[, Torin upholds a reputation for quality jacks. The BIG RED Floor Jack rounds out their selection, along with the scissor jack and bottle jack that also made this list. The ease of use suffers a bit with a too-short handle, but if you can afford it, this is easily one of the best and strongest floor jacks available.

Pros

  • Great lifting range means it works on a variety of vehicles
  • Extendable saddle neck saves a lot of time when lifting high clearance vehicles
  • Maintenance seals are easy to access, refilling or bleeding fluid not a problem

Cons

  • Handle could be longer, sometimes hard to raise
  • High price compared to similar floor jacks

9. Easiest to Use: Arcan Quick Rise Floor Jack

Arcan Quick Rise Floor Jack

Why we like it: With a dual-piston pump that drastically reduces the time you’ll spend working the lever, this car jack is perfect for those looking for convenience and minimal time spent lifting.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Floor jack
  • Capacity: 3 tons
  • Lift Range: 3-¼“ – 18”
  • Weight: 58 lbs.

Design

What really sets this jack apart is the dual-piston hydraulic lift. Nearly all other hydraulic jacks on the market operate off a single piston, which does the job well enough. Adding a second doubles the lifting force you get from each pump of the lever, making it far quicker and easier to raise to maximum height than other floor jacks.

This floor jack also features a large, rubber-padded saddle instead of a small, sharp metal disc. That protects the underside of your car and helps prevent any unnecessary bending of your jacking points. It also helps the jack’s stability quite a bit.

Convenience

The low profile of this jack means you’re going to have a hard time finding a vehicle it won’t slide under, making it a great choice for a garage that sees a variety coming through. It’s been seen lifting everything from 4Runners to low clearance stock racing cars. You’re really paying for this convenience, though, given the hefty price tag attached.

For something so expensive, we were a little disappointed to hear people have had issues with loose bolts and quality assurance on this Arcan floor jack as well. Though it’s nothing you can’t fix with a few tools laying around your garage, the fact that it’s necessary sometimes in the first place is a bit of a letdown.

Verdict

As the most expensive car jack on this list, higher even than the relative high-tech premium jacks on the market, the Arcan Quick Rise Floor Jack seems to have its sights set on the enthusiast and professional market. Still, if it’s good enough for them, it’ll most definitely meet the average person’s garage needs as long as they’re willing to part with the steep asking price.

Pros

  • Dual-piston lifting jacks your vehicle up in surprisingly few pumps
  • A large rubber saddle protects both the jack and vehicle while raising
  • High capacity but low profile means it’s great for all but the heaviest of vehicles

Cons

  • Very expensive - you could buy several other jacks for the price
  • Rare quality assurance issues, you may need to tighten bolts yourself

10. Most Stable: Alltrade Powerbuilt Heavy Duty Triple Lift Jack

Alltrade Powerbuilt Heavy Duty Triple Lift Jack

Why we like it: Thank to its wide surface, the Alltrade Powerbuilt Heavy Duty Triple Lift Jack

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Notes

  • Type: Floor jack
  • Capacity: 2 tons
  • Lift Range: 5-¼“ – 17-¾“
  • Weight: 85 lbs.

Design

Just one look at this heavy-duty car jack is all you need to know it means business. The wide, heavy, stand out feature is the ‘triple lift’ – called such because of the lift saddle and two padded lift rails that cap off the hydraulic arm. You usually see these lift rails on dedicated motorcycle jacks, but Alltrade has come up with a great design that works in the best of both worlds here.

The lift saddle provides a balanced jacking point while the rails help keep your vehicle as stable as possible. You can even remove the lift saddle, converting it fully into a motorcycle or ATV jack. This makes it perfect for adventurous types looking to maintain both their daily drivers and rugged exploration machines.

Convenience

While generally as hassle-free as one should expect from a floor jack, it does suffer from a few setbacks. The release mechanism for the jack can be a little unintuitive and tricky to operate – some people find their jacks apparently stuck with no way to lower, and others find it releases far too quickly, losing all strength immediately. We highly recommend reading through the instruction manual thoroughly, taking care to operate the floor jack correctly.

There have also been reports Arcan’s customer service is less helpful than they could be if you can get in touch with them at all. Luckily, this is a quality floor jack that shouldn’t need much interaction with the distributor, but it’s worth keeping in mind in case you do end up with issues.

Verdict

As with many of the heavier-duty jacks we’ve reviewed throughout this article, you’re going to have to pay a lot for a jack this large that is made out of quality metal. If the wide saddle is something important to you, though, we think that’s a fair price to pay for a jack that can lift almost anything with wheels, as long as it’s within capacity.

If you’re looking for durability like this without such a steep price tag, Alltrade’s Powerbuilt line also includes the Powerbuilt All-in-One Bottle Jack, which is reviewed elsewhere on this very page.

Pros

  • Incredibly heavy-duty and durable, easily the most on our list
  • Wide saddle means very little chances of slipping while jacking
  • Works great on ATVs, motorcycles, and even light trailers

Cons

  • Somewhat prone to difficulties lowering the jack
  • Complaints about unresponsive customer service are common

Guide to Car Jacks


scissor jack lifting vehicle

If you own a car, you’re going to need a car jack – it really is that useful of a tool. Flat tires are inevitable, and it’s an expensive, time-consuming process to take your vehicle to the shop for simple things like oil changes. Ignoring these issues won’t work either – driving on flat or bald tires can be very dangerous, and neglecting oil changes can take literal years off the life of your car.

It’s important for every vehicle owner to understand how to use one of these. But if you’re feeling a little intimidated approaching the topic, not sure which car jack is right for you or how to safely operate them, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide to car jacks.

Car Jacks Explained

kneeling mechanic using hydraulic jack

Today, car jacks come in tons of shapes and sizes, allowing a single person to lift thousands of pounds with minimal effort. Using a car jack is easy enough most people take it for granted. Try to imagine how hard changing a tire would be if we had to hold the vehicles up ourselves!

Motor vehicle jacks are essential when it comes to maintenance and repair, so you can see why every car owner needs to spend some time learning about them.

Types of Car Jacks

several different types of car jacks

While car jacks come in many different forms, you might be surprised to learn that most of them can really be categorized as one of two types – hydraulic or jackscrew. The difference comes down to how the jack actually gets its lifting strength and holds your vehicle up.

Jackscrew

The most classic type of jack is known as a jackscrew, or screw jack. They’re named for the large screw that makes their lifting mechanism possible. These use manual force alone rather than pressure, relying on something called mechanical advantage to turn a small amount of force – like spinning a handle – into enough strength to lift a vehicle.

As far as car jacks are concerned, there’s really only one type of screw jack you need to know about – the scissor jack. You can find a great example of a basic scissor jack on this very list. These work by using a jackscrew to expand the device like an accordion. There are even electrical jackscrews available that handle the spinning for you.

While the quality and safety of your jackscrew rely entirely on how well made the screw is, they’re a reliable design that’s been around as long as we’ve had jacks. It’s hard to go wrong with the time-tested option.

Hydraulic

The other type of car jack most commonly seen is a hydraulic jack. If you’re not familiar with hydraulics, they use a pressurized liquid (usually oil) to generate massive lifting force. You’re more likely to find hydraulic jacks inside of a shop or garage than in the trunk of your car, because they aren’t as flexible as jackscrews when it comes to ground condition and jacking points.

One major thing to note is hydraulic jacks are incredibly sensitive to shipping conditions. If they are handled carelessly or aren’t kept upright, they can easily leak fluid or find themselves with excess air inside. You can just as easily fix it yourself by learning how to maintain and care for a hydraulic jack – there are plenty of resources for that online, even in video form. There may even be businesses in your city that specialize in repairing and maintaining hydraulic equipment.

There’s a little more variety when it comes to hydraulic jacks than screw jacks. They range from ones perfect for personal use to those mighty lifts mechanics use to hold vehicles high enough to stand under, but the ones covered on this page are the ones you’re most likely to find while shopping.

  • Bottle jack: Resembling their namesakes, these are bottle-shaped jacks with a support pad affixed to an extending top. They’re strong but need a lot of clearance to get under a vehicle.
  • Floor jack: Close to the floor on wheels, a long lifting arm connected to a support pad provides lift. Flexible enough they fit most vehicles, you’ll find floor jacks in most mechanic shops.
  • Trolley jack: Similar to a floor jack, these set themselves apart by their more compact size and lower profile. If there’s a hydraulic jack in your car, it’s probably a trolley jack.

These aren’t the only types of jacks available to you, but they are the most commonly encountered ones. The difference between a floor and a trolley jack might be small, but it’s worth knowing, especially when ordering car jacks online.

Safely Using Car Jacks

van on jack stands

It doesn’t take an expert to understand how dangerous trying to lift something as heavy as a vehicle is. You’ll want to take every safety precaution you can so you can focus on the task at hand without worrying about injuring yourself or damaging property. Studies have shown nearly 10,000 people a year injure themselves using motor vehicle jacks, and you don’t want to be one of them.

If you’re looking for some starter safety tips, we’ve put together a few to help you cover all of your bases when you find yourself using your car jack:

  • Park the car on the most level, paved surface available to you. If you have to park at an incline, park near the curb and point your wheels toward it.
  • Never use a jack on a soft surface like dirt, sand, or grass.
  • Consider using something to chock the wheels furthest from where you’re lifting, like bricks or wheel wedges.
  • Make sure you’re in park and the emergency brake is pulled.
  • Follow your car jack’s instructions carefully, taking care to place the jack properly.
  • If you’re going to work underneath the car, always use jack stands with your jack. Never use a car jack by itself when working under the car.
  • When the work is finished, safely remove any jack stands, slowly lower your vehicle, and remove any wheel chocks you used.

Even following all of these tips, it’s up to you to stay alert, aware, and smart when it comes to working on and around your vehicle. You might not even need a car jack for every job when a vehicle ramp could do the job just as well at home.

Car Jack FAQs

We’ve covered most of what you need to know, but if you’re looking for a quick answer to a question, read on to see what we think about some of the most frequently asked questions involving car jacks.

How Safe Are Car Jacks?

Used properly and kept in good shape, car jacks are perfectly safe to use. That said, because you’re dealing with heavy machines, it’s extremely important to follow the proper safety procedures, which we’ve detailed elsewhere on this page.

Can I Use a Car Jack Without Jack Stands?

As long as your car jack is rated for the weight it’s carrying, it should be able to support the weight of your vehicle on its own. We still highly recommend using them, however, as they’re quick and easy to set up but provide a strong extra layer of safety. The portable jacks you keep in your trunk work well but are only meant to be used alone in an emergency situation, like changing a tire on the side of the road. You should never go under a vehicle supported only by a car jack.

Do You Have to Use a Car Jack on Both Sides of a Car?

No, you don’t usually need to jack up a car on all sides unless you’re going to be leaving it that way for an extended period of time or you need access to the entire underside of the car. If you’re just changing the oil or a flat tire, lifting just the area of the car you need will work fine.

How Long Can a Car Jack Hold a Car?

Alone, a car jack should be able to hold a vehicle up as long as necessary, but if it’s going to be lifted for more than a day or so you should be looking into jack stands, as they provide a stable, reliable solution compared to a hydraulic or screw jack by itself.

Final Thoughts

Owning a car means owning some sort of a car jack – there’s no getting around that at the end of the day. Whether you’ve just got something for emergencies stashed away in the trunk of your car next to the spare or an elaborate set up with jack stands and ramps in your garage that can handle any vehicle you throw at it, you’ll be using a car jack at some point.

Knowing you’ve bought something you can rely on and learning how to use it safely means fewer worries about accidents, and the types of maintenance car jacks enable will mean your car will run smoothly for years to come.