Whenever you have to go under your car to repair a component or perform routine maintenance, it's very important to jack up your vehicle the right way. Keep in mind that a properly installed jack stand is what prevents your vehicle from dropping on you as you tinker away underneath. If you don't want a simple routine maintenance turn into a tragic accident, check out the steps below on how to properly use a jack stand:
Step 1: Find a level surface.
When jacking up your vehicle, make sure you're parked on a level workspace. Double-check if the pavement under your car is inclined or uneven. Keep in mind that even a slight incline can cause your jack stands to fail.
Step 2: Check your jack stands' safety rating.
The right lifting tools for your vehicle depend on its weight. Once you've determined the curb weight of your car, make sure it matches the weight rating of the jack stands. Using the wrong lifting tools is a recipe for disaster.
Step 3: Set the parking brake and use chocks.
Before you lift up your vehicle, make sure you've set the parking brake to prevent it from rolling while it's supported by a jack stand. Also use wheel chocks on either the front or rear wheels to prevent them from moving forward or backward and cause your vehicle to fall off the jack. Remember, a lifted vehicle with its parking brake on can still roll if the wheels aren't properly supported by chocks.
Step 4: Use a floor jack.
Use a floor jack to prop up your car. A hydraulic trolley jack is a reliable tool since this can effectively lift up vehicles of different sizes and weights. Don't use a floor jack stand on wet ground, hot asphalt, or soil since the vehicle's weight can cause the stand to sink into the ground. Then install the stand under a solid piece of your car's frame. Never prop up your vehicle by placing a stand under the floorboards because the jack will probably puncture the floor. Also avoid placing the stand under a moving component.
Step 5: Put each jack stand to the test.
Once you've installed each jack under the vehicle, give your car a shove or a push and see if it moves. If your vehicle shakes, it means you need to reinstall the jack. Repeat the process until your car is stable.
Other safety tips
- Aside from wheel chocks, you can also use other backup objects to prevent the car from rolling off or falling from the stand. These include spare tires or wood blocks that you can place under the car to catch it in case it rolls off. Concrete bricks or blocks may seem strong enough to support your car's weight, but don't use them as supporting objects. These construction objects can easily crumble under your vehicle's weight, which can lead to a disastrous accident.
- If you're not sure where exactly to install jack stands underneath your vehicle, you can always consult your car manual.