Knowing how to use a car jack and jack stands allows you to do a lot of repairs and routine maintenance on your vehicle. With a car jack and jack stands, you can change your oil or your transmission fluid, rotate your tires, try and diagnose where a leak is coming from, or a number of other tasks that require access to the underneath of your vehicle.
Whatever your reason for using a car jack and jack stands, using them correctly is of the utmost importance. Cars weigh thousands of pounds, and having one fall on top of you when you’re under the engine can cause serious injury or death. Even if you’re not under the vehicle, having it fall from a height of a few feet can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to the car.
In this article, Part 1 explains how to prepare your car for jack stands and Part 2 tells you how to use the jack and jack stands.
Part 1 of 2: How to prepare your car for jack stands
Before using your car jack and jack stands, you’ll make life easier if you first prep a few things.
Step 1: Check the jack and jack stands. Make sure that your jack and jack stands are in working order.
Give them a visual inspection to make sure that no parts are broken, and that the items are still sturdy, then try pumping the jack (with nothing on it) to make sure it works properly.
Step 2: Park on a flat surface. Your car needs to be in a secure location, so always park on a very flat area. Engage your parking brake to help keep your car in place.
Step 3: Secure the wheels. Ideally, you should use wheel chocks on both the front and back of the rear wheels (assuming you’re jacking the front of the car up).
However, if you don’t have wheel chocks, you can use large blocks of wood. You just want to add a level of security so your car doesn’t roll away.
Part 2 of 2: How to use the car jack and jack stands
Once you’ve prepared, you’re ready to use the car jack.
Step 1: Check out your owner’s manual. Consult your owner’s manual to determine the areas of your car that are designed for jacks.
These parts of the car are strong enough to hold the vehicle’s weight, and won’t break or cause stress elsewhere on the car. Usually these are located next to each wheel, but your owner’s manual will let you know the exact location.
Step 2: Place the jacks. Put the jack under one of these spots and, once the car is high enough up for whatever repairs or replacements you’re doing, you can place jack stands under the jack points on both sides of the vehicle.
Step 3: Lower the car onto the jack stands. Once the jack stands are in the right location, slowly use the jack to lower the vehicle until it is resting on the jack stands.
Step 4: Test the stability of the jack stands. With the vehicle now on the jack stands, give it a few pushes, both straight down, and side to side.
You want to be sure that the car is completely secure before you put any part of your body under it.
Step 5: Reverse the process. When you’re done working on your car, and want to return it to the ground, simply reverse the process, and you’ll be good to go!
Using a car jack and jack stand is very easy. However, it can be highly dangerous, and even fatal, if it’s not done correctly. If you ever feel uncomfortable using your car jack and jack stands, be sure to take your car to an auto shop and let a professional handle it for you; it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.