A floor jack is 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.
The Best Floor Jacks
1. Arcan Low Profile Floor Jack
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.
2. LiftMaster Floor Jack
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.
3. Pittsburgh Racing Jack
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.
4. Arcan Reinforced Floor Jack
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.
5. Pittsburgh Automotive Floor Jack
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.
What to Look for in a Floor Jack
A "jack" is a mechanical or hydraulic device used to lift vehicles (partially or entirely) from the ground in order for maintenance or repair work to be performed. A floor jack is just one of the many types of car jacks.
Jacks have more uses than just changing tires; When used in conjunction with a set of stands, they allow the vehicle to be safely raised and supported to inspect brakes and other components comprising the undercarriage of the vehicle.
Types of Hydraulic Jacks
There are two main types of car jacks. These are primarily separated based on mechanism: mechanical and hydraulic.
Floor jacks are a type of hydraulic jack.
Hydraulic Car Jacks
There are two main types of hydraulic jacks: bottle jacks and floor jacks.
A floor jack can be described as a long, horizontal jack that lifts weight directly parallel to the source. They have a low center of gravity and are compatible with vehicles that have low clearance heights.
Floor jacks are bulky and are commonly found in auto repair shops; They are capable of lifting most small and medium-sized family vehicles.
How a Hydraulic Jack Works
Floor jacks are operated from a standing position. They are often comprised of a buffer tank, pump with a piston or plunger, a pump lever/handle, check valve, main cylinder, release valve, and handle.
Hydraulic jacks function based on Pascal's Principle; If two cylinders are connected via an incompressible fluid and a pressure is applied to one cylinder, the same pressure is imparted on the other cylinder via the fluid connecting them.
Pascal's Principle is outlined as follows:
F1 / A1 = F2 / A2
- F1 = Force applied to Piston 1 (the pump)
- A1 = The area of Piston 1
- F2 = Force applied to Piston 2 (main cylinder)
- A2 = The area of Piston 2
Essentially, hydraulic jacks use pump plungers in order to move oil through cylinders.
First, the plunger is drawn back which opens the suction valve ball and allows oil into the pump chamber. When the plunger is pushed forward, the oil moves through an external discharge check valve into the cylinder chamber and the suction valve closes. This results in pressure within the main cylinder.
Floor jacks are usually made of either 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 is about 1/3rd the weight of steel. Meaning, parts can be made thicker and stronger while still reducing overall weight. Depending on the alloy and processing technique used, aluminum can be forged to be just as strong as steel.
Meaning, in terms of floor jacks, simply stating that steel is best is bad practice.
Weight is a metric that is often overlooked when discussing floor jacks. Put simply, floor jacks weigh quite a bit; In some cases over 100 lbs.
If your reason for using a floor jack is to change a flat tire, a floor jack would be able to do the job, it would just be cumbersome to use.
Most vehicles come equipped with a scissor jack which is more than capable of lifting a vehicle to change a flat while weighing 1/5 of the weight of a floor jack (and costing 1/4 of the price).
To preface this section, it's important to note that a jack is used to lift a vehicle vertically, never to hold it in place.
The most common are 1.5, 2, and 3 ton lift capacity; If your vehicle weighs 3,000 lbs, you need at least a 1.5 ton rated floor jack.
The reason for this is because you have a 4:1 safety factor if you lift the vehicle from one of the corners along the pinch weld or vehicle frame.
If you lift a vehicle that weighs 7,000 lbs., you'll want at least a 3 ton jack. While the jack isn't rated to the vehicle's full weight (3 ton = 6,000 lbs. rated), you're still lifting with a 2:1 safety factor.
A floor jack is an essential tool for automotive shops and garages. Floor jacks require little maintenance and last a long time.
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.