When it comes to maintaining your vehicle, owning the right tools for the job is essential. Having the mechanical knowledge is also important, but without the correct tools not only do you risk damaging the car but also your health. The average consumer is no longer restricted to bringing their car into a shop for repairs or maintenance – simply do a quick search on YouTube and you’ll find plenty of videos to help you along. Despite these resources, car tools are still required. Using inadequate equipment may lead to frustration, broken parts, damage to your vehicle and possibly your health. Fixing a broken water pan or replacing an oil pan with a crack in it may not be easy nor fun, but it can be done with a few dollars, some motivation, and the proper equipment. On the other hand, lifting your car to fix a flat tire or change your oil (requiring less mechanical knowledge) also carries with in an increased risk of injury if not conducted with the proper floor jack (also known as the tire jack, car jack, auto jack, garage jack, etc.) in the correct manner.
So, what is a floor jack? A floor jack is a mechanical tool that allows the consumer to lift heavy loads (in this case a car or truck) by providing a mechanical advantage. Hydraulics and lead screws are commonly used in car jacks, and are largely responsible for their ability to lift cars with little effort. Amateur and professional auto mechanics will at some point find that additional ground clearance is required for some repairs. Some of the most common scenarios that require lifting a car would be to change a flat tire on the side of the road, or to do an at-home oil change. Changing break pads and rotors, conducting maintenance checks on the transmission, suspension, or exhaust, or simply cleaning debris from the undercarriage are some other examples where a floor jack may be required.
Attempting to lift a car with a jack that is not rated for at least ¾ of a vehicle’s total weight is not only inefficient but completely unsafe. A floor jack technically does not have to lift the entire weight of a vehicle, but it does have to lift half of it (2 wheels will be off the ground). If you try to lift a car that is close to the jack’s weight limit, not only does it become much harder to lift the car off the ground, but you also leave no room for minor errors. Is the jack centered perfectly? Is the vehicle’s weight centered perfectly? Is the surface completely flat or is there a slight angle (there usually is)? These are just a few areas of concern that may lead to bending or distortion of your jack’s linkage bars. If this occurs, your floor jack can flip or pop out from under the car at high speeds, resulting in the vehicle crashing down above you.
This is just one dramatic example (not as uncommon as you might think) to highlight the important of taking a few moments to educate yourself on all the do’s and dont’s when shopping for the best floor jack. In this complete guide for the best floor jack, we go over some of the important stuff you should know, which is then followed by reviews of the best floor jacks.
Best Floor Jack Complete Guide
Powerzone 380044 3 Ton Aluminum and Steel Garage Jack
Powerbuilt 640912 All-In-One 3-Ton Bottle Jack with Jack Stand
Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack - 3 Ton Capacity
Hi-Lift Jack HL484 48" Hi-Lift Black Cast and Steel Jack
Arcan ALJ2T Aluminum Floor Jack - 2 Ton Capacity
Torin T84025 Aluminum and Steel Racing Jack - 2.5 Ton
Blackhawk B6350 Black/Red Fast Lift Service Jack - 3.5 Ton Capacity
Powerbuilt 647527 Heavy Duty 8-Ton Bottle Jack
Torin T10152 Scissor Jack - 1.5 Ton
Pilot Q-HY-1500L 12 V Electric Car Jack
What are the Different Types of Floor Jacks?
The scissor jack is generally what you’ll find in the trunk of a car right alongside your spare tire. Most manufacturers include a scissor jack right from the factory. Scissor jacks are lightweight and take up very little space, which is why they are so commonly used and what many people think of when picturing a tire jack in their heads. Scissor floor jacks are often used in emergency situations. For example, you get a flat tire on the side of the highway your first instinct is to pull over to the side of the road, grab your spare tire and the scissor jack next to it. The mechanical advantage that these floor jacks have is limited due to the fact that it works by compressing a scissor linkage system to elevate a vehicle with the twisting of a lead screw. Height and lifting capacity are limited due to the fact that they are designed to be compact and highly portable. While a scissor jack may be all you need in emergency situations to swap a tire, it usually takes more effort to achieve elevation and you will only be able to get the car high enough to change a tire. Doing more advanced mechanical work may require you to have enough room to completely slide under the car – a scissor jack probably just won’t suffice.
Most hydraulic floor jacks are composed of a trolley on wheels, which houses a hydraulic cylinder that is responsible for most of the work required to achieve elevation. The hydraulic jack is easily recognized by most in the car service industry, and most mechanics prefer them over jacks that require more manual labor, like the scissor jack. The cylinder is attached to a lever arm that has a small platform that connects to your truck or car, and is responsible for making adjustments to elevation. A detachable lever is usually pumped and begins the lifting mechanism. Hydraulic floor jacks have many advantages over other types: they are intuitive and easy to use, and lifting a vehicle requires very little physical effort for the user. The wheels that can be found under the trolley allow for easy positioning under the car, and also prevents jack lean – in other words, this is an all around safer, and better alternative to the scissor jack we discussed above. Unfortunately, hydraulic floor jacks are more advanced pieces of technology and therefore often come with a more expensive price tag. Also, hydraulic jacks are not only bulky and much heavier than the scissor jack, but they cannot fold flat and it is highly unlikely to fit in the same small area in your trunk right by the spare tire.
Bottle jacks are similar to the hydraulic floor jack as they are also hydraulically operated. With the simple pumping of a lever, concentric cylinders in the equipment stiffen as a result of hydraulic pressure, resulting in elevation. Because of their similarities, bottle jacks are often thought of as the portable alternative to the typical hydraulic floor jack. In some scenarios, a bottle jack is advantageous. For example, if you are working with very little space or find yourself on an uneven surface, a bottle jack may provide greater stability. Bottle jacks are often capable of providing some of the highest lifting capacity for the value, compared to other kinds. Because of the lack of free height, most of their use is found with truck owners and those with vehicles where ground clearance height is of little concern. When fully compressed, a bottle jack doesn’t flatten out nearly as much as a scissor jack or the typical hydraulic floor jack. Because of this, individuals with lowered sports cars or certain sedans that drive especially low to the ground may not benefit from the purchase of a piston jack.
Things to Consider
Type of Vehicle
Determining the type of car (or truck) you plan to use with your floor jack is important, before you go out and make a decision. If this will be mostly for personal use on a coupe with decent ground clearance, there is no need to go break the bank on expensive automotive equipment and buy more than is really needed for such a light vehicle. For those that don’t know, ground clearance refers to the amount of height between your jack point (pretty much every vehicle will have a specified area for a jack to make contact with) and the ground surface. Cars with low ground clearance tend to be much easier to lift with the typical hydraulic floor jack. Race cars, sports cars, or other lowered vehicles do especially well with a low-profile floor jack. If you’re looking for an all-around compatible jack, hydraulic floor jacks are suitable for most vans, trucks, SUVs, sedans, and coupes. If you have a lifted truck or any other vehicle with particularly high ground clearance, a bottle jack may work better for you. If you’re perfectly fine with a bit of manual labor and want something that can slide right into the small spaces of your trunk, an inexpensive scissor jack may be your best bet. Generally speaking, a hydraulic floor jack is what we recommend for most consumers, as the top-rated jacks are well-rounded for most vehicles, built with durability in mind, and do most of the work for you.
Not all floor jacks are equal when it comes to their maximum weight capacity. It is very important to make sure the jack you use is rated for weight sufficiently. What this means is that your jack should be capable of lifting much more in weight than the vehicle that you plan to lift weighs. Always make sure maximum weight capacity exceeds the vehicles total weight. Not only does this ensure your floor jack can adequately lift your vehicle when the time comes, but also gives you a bit of wiggle room in case of small errors or variables you cannot control for (e.g. changing a flat tire on the side of a road that is not completely level). What you’ll find is that most ratings are in tons (2, 3, 4 ton jacks seem to be the most common and do fine with the typical vehicle). Keep in mind that the jack will never have to lift the entire weight of the car. Lift near the engine and you approach 50-60% of net weight. Need to change a flat towards the rear and it’ll probably be even less. Generally speaking, compact, sub-compact, and economy midsize sedans usually have no problems when a 2 ton jack is used, though a 3 ton would be better (the price difference between them isn’t enough to justify the purchase of the lesser). Luxury midsize cars, SUVs, vans and most trucks can probably get away with a 3 ton jack as well. For those with a much bigger rig are probably better off with a 3½ or 4 ton jack just to be safe.
Quality of Materials
Over the long run, you’re better off spending a little on a floor jack if it means you can do without replacing for many years. A lower price tag may catch your attention, but considering replacement costs for multiple jacks over a lifetime, and you’ll soon realize that you come out on top if you invest in a high-quality floor jack with exceptional build quality on your first go. Generally speaking, the most well-designed floor jacks are composed of mostly metal parts (steer clear from the cheap floor jacks made predominantly of plastic components). Brushed and polished metal with detailed lines in the paint is often an indication of high quality metals – some of the lower quality brands will cover most if not all of the jack in paint and you’ll see over-spray and undefined lines. High-quality floor jacks are often heavier and have an overall better user experience. If you are unable to test out each floor jack in person, the next best option is to read expert reviews, as we have provided you below.
Maximum lift height refers to how high the lifting arm of the jack can elevate a vehicle. In most cases, you probably won’t ever need to max out the lift height, but it is good to know and more is always better. The typical scissor jack that you might find in the trunk of your vehicle has a maximum lift height of 14-16 inches in most cases (more than enough to change a flat for example). Most of the best-rated floor jacks have a max lift height of 17-22 inches (sometimes more).
The lift speed of a floor jack can be measured in terms of how many pumps of the handle it takes to reach the max lift height. Regardless of the jack you see reviewed in this guide, you can be sure that it is not only faster that the typical scissor jack or jack that utilizes a screw mechanism, but it is also physically easier. The majority of jacks seem to reach maximum lift height somewhere between 10 and 20 strokes of the pump. Dual cylinder “quick lift” systems can be found, which manufacturers claim to reach max lift height in as little as 5 to 7 strokes. Whether it is 5 strokes or 20, the best floor jacks require very little physical effort to raise a car.
Safe use of your floor jack should be the top-priority for anyone looking to lift a car. The sheer weight of a vehicle can do quite a bit of damage if proper technique is not implemented. Common sense alone may help, but there are probably some things you would not think to consider, which is why we’ve decided to include this guide of principles for floor jack safety.
Use Jack Stands
First things first, you should never completely rely on a floor jack to support the weight of a car or truck. Any man-made piece of equipment will fail at some point, and even the most well-built mechanical devices (floor jacks included), will at some point begin to lose the spark it once had. Floor jacks are designed to move (when elevation or descent is required), and many components go into making this possible. It is commonly known for hydraulic floor jacks to wear out over time, and eventually these hydraulic components may fail to achieve elevation or more commonly, have difficulty holding a static position when compressed by a vehicle. In most cases, a failing floor jack doesn’t completely stop working all at once (you won’t see the car come crashing down) – but what you will find is that the vehicle slowly loses lift and begin lowering towards the ground. For someone changing a flat this may not be so dangerous, but if you’re under the vehicle changing out your oil, this slow lowering of the vehicle may go unnoticed until you find yourself in a difficult situation trying to scoot out from under the vehicle before it crushes you those last few seconds. Remember, when you’re underneath a car you have very limited movement capability and so your speed and agility may suffer. This danger is easy to avoid with proper use of some high quality jack stands. Simply place a pair of jack stands underneath the car after the normal use of your hydraulic floor jack, and you have largely mitigated the potential for any hazard to your health due to failing hydraulic components. We highly recommend you to give the car a decent nudge after they are in place to ensure that the stands are set properly and wont pop off while you’re under the vehicle. Chalks can also be used to prevent the car from rolling if you are only using two jack stands, though this is generally a non-issue. As an additional safety measure you could place the wheel that has been removed under the car – some mechanics swear by it.
While most ground surfaces aren’t 100% flat, always seek out a working area that is pretty much level. For the same reason you wouldn’t use a forklift carrying a heavy load on the slant of a hill, you shouldn’t use a jack if there is any noticeable slope. Not only is there a vehicle-tipping hazard if the slant is great enough, but you also risk having your jack or floor stands fail and potentially shoot out from under the car at high speeds (very dangerous). Don’t lift your vehicle on a slanted driveway, move it (if you have to, push) to a nearby road to make your repairs.
Slow and Steady
Take your time for both up and down directions. Raising your car slowly gives you the opportunity to identify and fix and problems or errors in jack placement that you would otherwise not notice if you went as fast as you could. Similarly, lowering your car slowly prevents any hard impact that may lead to damage of your floor jack or your vehicle. Slow and controlled operation of your floor jack is in your best interest.
Correct Jack Points
Every vehicle was designed with future maintenance in mind, and the ability to use a floor jack is ensured by the manufacturer. Each car has specific points in the frame that have can adequately support the heavy load that results from lifting with a jack. Take a quick look at your vehicle’s user manual and you’ll soon figure out which points in the frame have been reinforced for lifting. Lifting a car without taking the proper steps to ensure you are placing the jack in the correct location could damage the vehicle. If you don’t have access to the manual, have a look at the frame that runs between the front and back wheels, and you should see seams or indentations – this is most likely the general jack point area and where you should place the jack (there is often more than one location that has been reinforced on the frame, if you’re changing a flat choose the slot that is closest to the wheel).
Best Floor Jacks Reviews
1. Powerzone 380044 Review
The Powerzone 380044 is one of the most highly regarded floor jacks, and for good reason. This jack is built with quality in mind, and is composed of both steel and aluminum components, which ensures overall strength, durability, and portability. The frame is made of aluminum to keep the total weight down, while the lifting arm is made of steel, and is rated to handle up to 6,000 pounds of weight (3 tons). There are only a handful of 3-ton floor jacks that weigh under 65 pounds, and thanks to the dual aluminum-steel construction the Powerzone 380044 happens to be one of them. While not exactly “low-profile”, the minimum ground clearance is 4 inches, which is suitable for just about any lowered sports car out there.
While some say the Powerzone 380044 lacks with regards to its 4-inch minimum height requirement, it more than makes up for it in maximum lift height. With a total lift range of 14¼ inches, the maximum lift this can provide is 18¼ off the ground. The 380044 is also equipped with a dual-cylinder quick lifting hydraulic system (boasting a safety valve to prevent damage from overload), which reduces the number of strokes needed to reach max height, saving time and reducing the amount of physical effort needed.
Bearing no weight, the unloaded saddle is capable of reaching its maximum height with only 6 full strokes of the handle (compared to the typical 12-18 strokes required with a floor jack without dual-cylinder construction). The saddle itself is covered with rubber padding – not only does this provide a better surface for your jack points to grip, but also to prevent any unnecessary damage to the vehicle. The lower portion of the jack handle is draped in a thick black foam material to prevent damage in case of accidental vehicle contact while pumping. The front wheels are fixed in movement, while the caster-type rear wheels allow for 360° of swivel action for easy movement and positioning. All four wheels are built from steel to ensure bending over time is not an issue. For quick movement, the Powerzone 380044 is equipped with handles on each side of the frame. For the plethora of reasons above, the 380044 is our top pick in this floor jacks guide and it would be a great addition for any beginner or advanced car enthusiast.
2. Powerbuilt 640912 Review
If you’re looking for a high-quality floor jack, Powerbuilt is one brand that you can’t go wrong with. This combination jack stand and bottle jack is perfect for just about any vehicle with enough ground clearance. The 3-ton (6,000 pound) weight capacity is suitable for most. The 640912 is equipped with a safety lock that prevents movement of the bar when set to the desired height. This can prevent slippage of the jack while the vehicle is elevated off the ground, and prevents any “slow failing” situations from occurring. This tire jack is built with a wide steel base for additional stability while bearing the weight of your vehicle.
With a lifting range of 11 to 21 inches, you can rest easy knowing that this bottle jack should have no problems lifting SUVs, trucks, and other heavy off road vehicles. Powerbuilt equipment is known to be high-quality and reliable. Despite its bulky size, the Powerbuilt 640912 is still small enough to fit in just about any trunk if you choose to utilize this piece of equipment for those emergency flat tire situations. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use all in one floor jack and jack stand, the Powerbuilt 640912 is an excellent choice.
3. Arcan ALJ3T Review
The low-profile Arcan ALJ3T complies with ASME PALD standard, and can fit under just about any vehicle and is still able to handle up to 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of weight. Mostly all of the components are made of aluminum (which weighs less than steel). This low-profile floor jack is equipped with thick frame side plates for durability and a reinforced lifting arm to prevent your tool from failing years down the road. In addition, bypass and overload valve systems prevent the over-extension of the hydraulic components during lift, and prevents use beyond the maximum weight capacity.
The lifting pole is composed of two separate components that snap together with an intuitive quick-lock button press system. The pole flexes to a minimum when strokes are made during lift, and the bottom portion is covered in a thick foam pad to prevent damage from occurring if accidental contact is made with your vehicle. The saddle itself is also covered in a soft rubber for increased grip capability and to prevent damage to the frame located on the underside of your vehicle. The rear casters are equipped with ball bearings for easy swiveling. The two handles on the side of the jack can be used for lifting in and out of your trunk or to carry around.
4. Hi-Lift Jack HL484 Review
Anyone looking for a truly reliable tire jack would do well with the HL484. Rated for a maximum of 3.5 tons (7,000 pounds) lifting capacity, this cast and steel lift is great for cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs that fall within the maximum weight. The Hi-Lift Jack is equipped with a shear bolt to prevent improper use stemming from attempted elevation of a vehicle that weighs more than the jack can handle. The powder coated black and red paint finish is durable and scratch resistant, and the zinc-plated hardware prevents rusting over extended use. The two-piece handle and socket is well-built, as is the top winch connector clamp that comes standard on all Hi-Lift floor jacks.
5. Arcan ALJ2T Review
Similarly to just about every Arcan jack we’ve encountered, the ALJ2T is a high-quality and lightweight jack (weighing only 49 pounds). The aluminum construction makes it strong, yet is responsible for its light weight. The Arcan ALJ2T is a low-profile jack that can fit under just about any car (only 3.5 inches of ground clearance are necessary). The maximum lift height of 19.25 inches is more than enough for just about any situation.
The two-piece handle can be taken apart with ease in just a few seconds, making for easy storage of the jack in your trunk or garage. The two-piece handle provides a decent amount of leverage during strokes, and pumping up the jack is relatively easy and very little physical effort is required. The two front wheels are fixed, and the two rear casters can swivel for easy movement and proper positioning. The rubber pad located on the part of the saddle that makes contact with your vehicle during lift, ensures adequate gripping of the frame and prevents damage to the underside. The Arcan ALJ2T takes around 12 strokes of the handle to achieve maximum height. The side mounted handles allows convenient carrying. Unless you require a jack with a maximum weight limit greater than 2 tons, the ALJ2T is reasonably priced and should last you quite a while.
6. Torin T84025 Review
The Torin T84025 is rated for a maximum weight of 2.5 tons and is certainly worth considering if you’re in the market for a budget friendly quick-lift racing jack. One of the biggest advantages this Torin has over much of its competition is the fact that it takes only 7 pumps to reach its maximum lift height of 18.25 inches. It is called a racking jack because of its ability to lift a vehicle in very little time, just make sure your vehicle has a ground clearance of at least 4.125 inches as this is as low as you’ll get this jack.
The saddle is removable in case you need a bit of extra room on the bottom end, though you probably shouldn’t overly rely on this feature. The well-built hydraulic components and the rest of the body are made from a combination of steel and aluminum, giving strength and lightweight characteristics to this floor jack. Fixed casters can be found in the front, while the rears swivel and rotate for easy maneuverability. The attached handle is just another feature, in addition to its relatively light-weight, that makes the Torin T84025 one of the highest-rated when it comes to easy carrying and storage. To top it off, it happens to be one of the best looking jacks we’ve seen. Overall, the T84025 brings plenty of quality for the money, and if a 2.5 ton weight limit is sufficient, certainly consider this jack.
7. Blackhawk B6350 Review
The Blackhawk B6350 is almost entirely made from a heavy-duty, high-quality steel. The standard trolly design includes fixed front wheels with movable caster style rear wheels. The rubber pad that rests on the saddle where contact with the vehicle is made is not really attached, rather it rests there and can come loose if you aren’t careful. Not a huge issue but can be a pain (just another piece you have to keep track of when carrying or storing away). The saddle itself swivels, and is removable, which adds to its portability.
The handle is also removable, and the lower portion is padded to protect the exterior of your vehicle while pumping to desired elevation. When the handle is fully raised, there is a noticeably larger angle than some of its competition, and never seems to go vertical (contact with the car is highly unlikely). In our tests, it takes 20 (or more) full-range strokes of the handle to reach the maximum lift height of 22 inches. Not the fastest but also not the biggest deal considering it takes very little effort to pump up.
8. Powerbuilt 8 Ton Review
The most notable characteristic of this jack can be found in the name – its 8 ton (16,000 pounds) maximum lifting capacity. This is quite simply the best jack for those heavy rig trucks, trailers, campers, and others – with a lifting range of 7.88 inches to 15.5 inches you should know that a typical coupe or sedan probably wont be compatible with this tool. Minimum ground clearance of 7.88 inches is quite substantial, so be certain your vehicle needs something with such a high lifting capacity.
Maximum weight capacity aside, the jack itself is high-quality and built to last. Required pumping effort is kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, the jack itself is not equipped with wheels so you need to manually position as it won’t roll itself into place. At such a low price though, you can’t really go wrong if you can get some use out of this beast.
9. Torin T10152 Review
The Torin T10152 is just another example of a quality product that is built to last. The T10152 differs from most of the other jacks on this list as it does not contain hydraulic components – this is a top-quality scissor jack with a maximum lift height of 15.4 inches. This should fit under most vehicles without problems, only needed a ground clearance of 3.75 inches. One of the main advantages the Torin T10152 has over others is its light weight and high degree of portability due to its lead screw mechanism and ability to compact when not extended. This is a jack that can easily fit into tight spaces in the trunk, and with a 1.5 ton lifting capacity, most small to mid-size vehicle owners will be happy knowing they can have for themselves one of the best scissor jacks for a very reasonable price. Be warned, scissor jacks take more time and effort to reach the desired height as there is no pumping of a handle, rather the twisting of a screw is what produces lift. Overall, if you’re on a strict budget and don’t really care about some additional physical effort that is required during use, the Torin T10152 is one of the best.
10. Pilot Automotive Q-HY-1500L Review
Pilot’s Q-HY-1500L car jack stands out from the rest in that it utilizes a 12v cigarette lighter adapter to elevate the vehicle electronically. Quite frankly, this is an electric scissor jack, and a high quality one to be exact. With a 2 ton (4,000 pound) lifting capacity, the Pilot Automotive Q-HY-1500L is more portable than a hydraulic jack, and a more convenient alternative to the standard scissor jack. A built in circuit breaker ensures that no vehicle over exerts itself and burns out. Set up is easy – all you need is some basic knowledge as to how to place the protective pads and position a scissor jack under the frame of the vehicle. The elderly or anyone who has difficulty working a standard scissor jack on the side of the road would benefit from the Q-HY-1500L. Manual lubrication is not required for this heavy duty 15 amp DC motor. The rotating pawl functions smoothly and efficiently. A minimum ground clearance of 4.3 inches is required for any vehicle planning to make use of this jack, and can reach a maximum height of 13.4 inches (enough lift to change a flat tire but probably not much else). The included carrying case is a great addition and ensures extra durability. The total package can easily fit into any trunk or garage. Extra fuses are included, and an LED light can be activated if you ever find yourself on the side of the road at night. Overall, if you like the convenience of a scissor jack but can do without all that extra manual labor, an electric-powered scissor jack like the Q-HY-1500L may be all that is needed.
Latest posts by Jeremy Roland (see all)
- Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $200 - February 4, 2019
- Best Drum Set - January 23, 2019
- Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter? - December 6, 2017