Jack Stand Buying Guide
What is a Jack Stand?
Jack stands come in all types and weight ranges. There are jack stands that are great for changing tires, and some that are weight rated to be able to jack up an RV so you can do repairs on it. One thing is certain, no matter what type of jack you choose, it will make jobs simpler and less risky or frustrating.
Jack stands should be used on the vehicles that it is capable of safely lifting. Do not use a lightweight jack stand on a large vehicle that is out of its weight range. Not only can the jack break, you could be putting yourself in harm’s way needlessly.
Always look for a jack stand that is rated for a weight slightly above the vehicle or vehicle’s you are going to be working with. An example of this is getting a 2.5 ton jack for a vehicle that weighs 2 tons.
It is also important to remember that the parking brake should always be engaged when using jack stands and block the wheels not up off the ground with heavy pieces of wood or concrete blocks. We will talk more about jack stand safety below but first we will discuss the features that make up a good jack stand.
Features of a Good Jack Stand
Lift Height – Lift height jacks are usually used along with floor jacks. They are sold in pairs and the height range can be anywhere from 13” up to 26”. Most lift height jacks can support 3 tons and some can handle up to 6 tons.
Weight Capacity – Most jack stand are rated in tons and not pounds. They will range anywhere from half a ton to over 25 tons. You want to make sure that you purchase a jack stand that can handle a little over the weight of the vehicle or vehicles you will be using it with. Trucks and vans will need a higher weight rating than a sedan or smaller vehicle.
Adjustability – You can find fixed height and adjustable height jack stands. Which one you get depends on your specific needs. A fixed weight jack stand has less moving parts to break or malfunction but they limit you on what you can do with them.
If you are only going to be using the jack stand in one place with the same vehicle over and over, then a fixed height jack stand would work well for you. If you are going to be using it with many different vehicles or moving the jack stand to different locations, you will want to choose an adjustable height jack stand.
You want to find jack stands that are easy to work with and adjust. Having to fight to get it to the right height is only going to frustrate you and there is a chance it can be adjusted incorrectly, creating a potential safety hazard.
The most common style of adjustable jack stand is one that has a center column that is notched and that uses a lever that allows users to select the height they want to use. Another style is the pin and hole style. This type works by having a steel pin that is inserted into a hole in the center column at the height you want to use it at. The best feature to ensure a pin and hole style jack has is the presence of another safety pin that holds the first pin in place.
Last but not least is the rotation style jack stand. With this particular model, the center column is turned clockwise or counterclockwise which adjusts the height up or down.
Wide Base – You want to find a jack stand that has a wide base which will increase its stability. A wide base keeps it from sinking into the ground or shifting and becoming unstable.
Position Stop – This feature prevents the user from raising the jack higher than it is safely capable of going. It is a good safety feature to have to prevent over-extending the jack stand.
Versatile Handle Capability – Most jacks will have a handle with them but it’s always beneficial when they can also be used properly with a tire iron or something similar. This works very well in the event of an emergency or if something happens to the jack stand handle.
Consideration These Things Before You Buy
Since there are many different types of jack stands available, there are a few things you need to consider before you actually purchase one. These considerations will help you choose the right jack stand for your particular needs and prevent you from wasting your money on a jack stand that doesn’t work for what you need it for.
- What type of vehicle do you need the jack stand for? – Since jack stands come in all different heights and varieties, you want to be sure to get one that works for the vehicles you will be using it on. What determines this is your vehicle’s ground clearance and its weight. Sports cars can handle shorter and lighter weight rated jacks than a minivan or pickup truck can. Even Fords or Cadillacs are heavier vehicles and will require a higher weight rated model. Know the information on your vehicle before you choose so you can match them up.
- How good is the construction of the jack stand? – Quality construction is of utmost importance when it comes to choosing the right jack stand. You want to look at things such as finish and the welds as well as its resistance to corrosion. You want the finish to be smooth and even and have full coverage as well. You also want to examine those welds and make sure that they are even. If you are purchasing this online like so many do, read the reviews and see what customers are saying about it.
Safety Considerations When Using Jack Stands
Below are some important safety considerations to make sure you keep in mind and follow when working on your vehicle with floor jacks and jack stands.
- Always use your jack stands – A floor jack can wear out and has a lot of moving parts. Hydraulics can malfunction causing a slow drain of pressure and lower the car. Using jack stands a long with a floor jack can eliminate the risks of the floor jack failing. Use the floor jacks to lift and lower the vehicle and the jack stands to hold it in place while you are working on it.
- Use one jack stand per lifted wheel. – When you are working on a car, you need to use one jack per wheel that is off the ground. It provides you with the most stability that you can have while working on or underneath your vehicle.
- Use the Correct Lift Points – There are special places on your vehicle where you should place the jack stand. These points are called jack points or lift points. They are reinforced so they can hold the weight of your car safely. If you are not sure of where the jack points are on your vehicle, check the owner’s manual or search online to get the right placement points. If you don’t use the right jack points, you can cause the car to fall off the jack or damage your car.
- Choose the Right Weight Capacity – Make sure that the jack stand you purchase is rated for the weight you need. Searching the internet or checking your owner’s manual will again, help you find the weight of your vehicle so you can make sure that the jack stands you are considering are properly rated for that type of vehicle. Jack stands are rated individually, so each jack stand will have the weight rating stated; it is not measured as a pair.
Jack stands are tools that will come in handy whenever you need to work on your car. If you are the type to do a lot of repairs yourself on your vehicle, having a good quality set of jack stands will come in handy and make those repairs safer, faster to do and easier to do. Since a wide selection of jack stands is out there, having the tools and knowledge to compare one to another can help steer you to the jack stand that will be perfect for your needs and particular vehicle type.
Selecting the right jack stand will provide you with a safe and reliable means to change tires, oil and do repairs on your vehicle for years to come so look at it as an investment and get the best quality jack stands you can afford, like any of the three top rated models we have reviewed here.
You will save time, money and headaches by knowing what features a good jack stand has and how to find the right one for your specific vehicle. Every consumer wants to save time AND money, and with the information in this guide, you can easily do both.