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Having a decent floor jack is unquestionably necessary when lifting anything substantial, like a vehicle. Poorly designed jacks can run the risk of causing severe injury or death to the user.

If you’re conducting maintenance on your car, truck, or van, you want to be able to completely trust that your equipment isn’t going to fail you.

Best Overall
Arcan
2 Ton
Best Value
Liftmaster
3 Ton
Best on a Budget
Pittsburgh
3 Ton

If you don’t plan on using your floor jack often, you want to make sure that you obtain one that will still work correctly with minimal maintenance. It would be an absolute nightmare if you had a flat tire, but your cheaply made jack seized up just because you haven’t used it in over a year.

The Best Floor Jack

Let’s take a look at some of the better options available.

1. Best Overall

Arcan Low Profile Steel Service Jack

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The XL2T from Arcan is a high-quality floor jack that is easy to set up and has a low profile. It’s made from steel and has a height range of 2.75-24 inches. This range allows it to get into the tightest spots, as well as provide ample room for you to work under if needed.

XL2T has a two-ton capacity, a 32inch chassis, and is equipped with dual-pump pistons that allow the jack to be raised with haste.

There is a foam handle and rubber saddle that helps to reduce any damage that may be caused by using a jack on your vehicle. The carrying handle is also an excellent addition, as sometimes floor jacks can be troublesome to move due to their weight.

It comes equipped with overload and bypass valves which stop the jack from overextending the hydraulics beyond their intended capabilities.

It’s worth noting that this jack complies with ASME PASE-2014 Safety Standard for Portable Automotive Service Equipment.

All in all, this is a very sturdy and safe floor jack.

  • Pros: Safety standard compliant. Carry handle. Two-ton weight limit.
  • Cons: Very heavy at 97 lbs. Some owners report that it occasionally leaks oil.

2. Best Value

Liftmaster Steel Floor Jack

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Next up is the 3 Ton Floor Jack from Liftmaster. The Liftmaster, as its name suggests, is a high-quality floor jack that has a low profile 3inch entry point, with a max lift of 20inches. This allows it to get under most vehicles with ease, as well as providing enough room so that you can complete your task.

The ability to lift 3 tons is mostly overkill, but knowing that this jack is so strong will definitely help any uncertainty if you plan on working under a vehicle for prolonged periods. Equipped with dual pumps, the Liftmaster can be raised with ease and haste. A lot of cheaper jacks take a long time to raise, which in most scenarios is far from ideal.

A foam pump has been added to the jack to prevent unwanted damage to your vehicle when it’s being lifted. There is also a strengthened rubber pad to help with friction when being raised too.

  • Pros: 3-ton weight limit. Strengthened rubber pad. 3 inch entry point.
  • Cons: Very heavy. Can be challenging to un-tighten the load.

3. Best in Portability

Pittsburgh Compact Aluminum Racing Jack

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A less beefy jack compared to those above, the 1.5 Ton Compact Racing Jack is the perfect option for those who don’t want a bulky and heavy floor jack. Being comprised of mostly aluminum, this jack weighs only 40 lbs, making it almost half the weight of some of the steel options.

1.5 tons is still more than enough for the average car, so if safety is a concern, you shouldn’t worry. This jack has supposedly been creating with professional race teams in mind and can reach a workable height in less than four pumps with thanks to the dual pump system. The hardened rubber that is present on the area that will connect with your vehicle will reduce the likelihood of your jack damaging it. This is important, as depending on the integrity of the metal work, you may cause severe damage to your vehicle if it was metal on metal.

The handle can be taken off quickly, to allow the jack to be stowed in the trunk of your vehicle, if necessary.

  • Pros: Lightweight. Workable height in three and a half pumps. Designed for professional racing teams.
  • Cons: Limited working capacity of 1.5 ton.

4. Best in Aluminum

Arcan Aluminum Floor Jack

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Here’s another from Arcan, the ALJ3T. This jack has a 3-ton lift capacity with a lift range of 3.75-18 inches. It’s primarily made from aluminum which makes it 56 lbs in weight, putting it on the lower end of the scale compared to some of the other steel models. Easily maneuverable, the rear swivel caster wheels allow you to move this jack with ease.

The saddle pad is made from reinforced rubber that will protect your vehicle when the jack is in use. Just like the other Arcan jack, the ALJ3T is also ASME PALD compliant.

Equipped with dual pump pistons, this floor jack can reach its maximum height with minimal pumps. There is a two-piece handle on the sides too, which helps with leverage and storage. The ALJ3T is also equipped with bypass and overload valves, which reduce the chances of the jack being overextended, which in turn will aid in keeping you safe while you work on your vehicle.

  • Pros: 3-ton capacity. ASME PALD compliant. Only 56 lbs. Made from aircraft grade aluminum.
  • Cons: Noted for being portable but it’s quite cumbersome to carry.

5. Best on a Budget

Pittsburgh Automotive Low Profile Steel Floor Jack

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This floor jack from Pittsburgh Automotive is fantastic for those of you on a budget. It is made from steel, which makes it more substantial than some of the aluminum options at 71.7 lbs. However, it is a robust jack that can hold up to 3 tons.

Its range is between 2.85-19.75 inches, making it one of the lowest profiles on this list. However, it also has the shortest higher limit too.

The floor jack has a universal joint release system that’s easily accessible, which gives you decent control of how high your load is, right from the handle. With a twist of the handle, you can dictate how slow or fast the jack lowers your vehicle.

From an aesthetic point of view, this jack does fall short. It’s a very dull-looking grey, and doesn’t look as crisp as some of the others available, but does that really matter? To most, no.

If you need a floor jack and don’t want to break the bank, then this is the jack for you.

  • Pros: Low profile. 3-ton capacity. Made from steel.
  • Cons: A few customers note hydraulic fluid leaking.

What to Look for in a Floor Jack

A reliable floor jack is a tool that almost everyone needs. Whether you’re just a regular vehicle owner or an auto repair shop, it’s likely that you will need to utilize a floor jack at some point.

Depending on what your requirements are will dictate what floor jack is suitable. The needs and wants of a mechanic will be vastly different from a regular commuter. This guide aims to give you enough knowledge so that you not only choose a floor jack for your needs, but purchase one that keeps you safe.

Types of Floor Jacks

Floor jacks come in two distinct styles. Firstly, there is the hydraulic floor jacks (which are presented above). These are the best for vehicle maintenance and general use. They are often named ‘trolley jacks’ due to their appearance.

They usually have metal wheels, are heavily bodied, and will have a hydraulic cylinder that does the majority of the work. Pumping the handle creates a force that pushes the piston up that resides inside. These jacks are perfect for auto repair shops, as well as for the average Joe.

Secondly, there are bottle jacks, also known as piston jacks. These work the same way as trolley jacks, except that they are shaped like a bottle. These are not ideal for vehicle maintenance, as they are either difficult or impossible, to place safely underneath due to their height. This is why low profile trolley jacks are sought after.

The advantage bottle jacks have is that their maximum lift point will be a lot higher compared to a trolley jack. If needed, they could be used instead of jack stands, but I would only recommend this if you already had a bottle jack.

Material

Floor jacks usually come in one of three options: steel, aluminum, or both.

The benefits of steel is that it is incredibly strong, but weighs a lot. Aluminum weighs significantly less than steel but is less strong (sort of). Aluminum has a better strength to mass ratio than steel. This isn’t to say that an aluminum floor jack will be dangerous though, as they use additional processes and engineering to make it sturdy, which makes up for the lack of weight.

Weight

Continuing on from materials, let’s go over why weight should be a consideration. Depending on why you need a floor jack will dictate if weight matters or not. If you plan on throwing your jack in the truck and only ever letting it see the light of day if you, unfortunately, get a flat tire, then weight won’t really make a difference.

However, if you work in an auto shop where you’ll be moving around often, a jack that’s easily maneuverable and lighter might be worth considering.

Clearance Height

The clearance range of your jack should be looked over. For the average vehicle, any floor jack should be sufficient. However, for bigger vehicles like SUVs, having a jack with a higher clearance height would be beneficial.

On the other hand, if you think you may need to get into tight spaces, having a jack that’s low profile is also a necessity. All of the jacks on this list are low profile.

Eric the Car Guy on YouTube discusses this topic in more detail. Before using your car jack, we strongly recommend watching this video:

Lift Capacity

You may have noticed some of the floor jacks being named ‘two ton’, ‘three ton’, etc., this refers to the maximum weight that they can hold. If you have a regular car, you will want to aim for a jack that can handle at least two tons. For larger vehicles like SUVs, vans, and smaller trucks, you’ll want to get something that can handle three tons. For large and heavy vehicles you’ll need to aim for four tons at least.

It’s worth purchasing jack stands which you can place adjacent to your floor jack in order to support the weight of the vehicle. That way, if for some reason the jack was to fail, the jack stands will be there to take the weight. They are also useful for people who intend to keep weight on their floor jack for prolonged periods of time.

Conclusion

A well-built floor jack is essential for any vehicle owner and should not be disregarded. Unless you’re using it weekly, a jack should last you many years. They require little maintenance and are very easy to use. The jacks that cost a little bit more will usually have dual-pistons, which helps raise the jack up very quickly.

While they seldom come with instructions, when you first receive your jack you should ensure that everything is tightened and that there is sufficient hydraulic oil available. As long as you don’t push the limits of your floor jack, you should never have any problems.

References

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Richard Reed
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