Whether you need to swap out a flat tire, change the oil or perform some other repairs on your car or truck, you’re probably going to need a floor jack. About the only people that don’t need one are folks that pay others to do this sort of work, already have some fancy hoist in their garage or drive an insanely lifted brodozer that’s so tall a middle-schooler could walk underneath without ducking. For everyone else, you’d better clear some space for a floor jack.
You can have the most well-equipped garage, chock-full of the greatest tools, but none of those items will be of any value if you can’t access the parts on your ride that need to be serviced. Since most adults can’t shimmy underneath today’s low-riding cars and crossovers that are designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, they need to be elevated to gain enough clearance to, you know, actually work on stuff. Enter the humble car jack. Demystifying these mundane but indispensable tools is this handy guide. Keep on readin’ to learn about the different types of jacks out there, what they’re used for and which ones you should own. All product recommendations are based on based on real-world experience and user reviews.
If you want a high-quality, long-lasting, super-versatile floor jack, consider this premium, heavy-duty Torin unit. It can support up to 3 tons (6,000 pounds), features a 20-inch lifting height and comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty. A quick-lift pump design gets the business end up to the vehicle you’re lifting much faster so you’re not sitting there pumping the handle going seemingly nowhere. This low profile floor jack should easily slide under even aggressively dropped vehicles, plus its near 67-pound weight and heavy-duty steel construction (emphasis on heavy) means it’s built to last. This is certainly a premium hydraulic floor jack.
Significantly more affordable than the previous steel floor jack highlighted here is this Pittsburgh unit. Treated to a fetching red paintjob and made of sturdy welded steel, it has a 3-ton (6,000-pound) lifting capacity. Weighing in at around 75 pounds, it’s a solid piece of work, though its wide casters should help improve both maneuverability and, more importantly, stability. A rapid-pump mechanism gets this jack up in no time flat, while its low-profile design means it should fit under a wide range of vehicles. Overall, this is a nice car jack for a reasonable price of $125. User reviews are excellent, too. To date, it’s earned a 4.6-star rating.
If money’s tight and you need a floor jack, grab ahold of this Pro-Lift unit. Priced at just $39, it’s small, it’s lightweight and, believe it or not, it’s mighty, too. This car jack has a lift capacity of 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds) and is made of welded steel. Its maximum lift height is a modest 12 inches, but it only weighs 18 pounds, so don’t expect it to be able to raise mountains. Keeping things neat and clean, it also comes with a nifty carrying case, making this one of the greatest portable car jacks to keep in your car or truck, so you’ll be ready if you ever get a flat tire. Underscoring this product’s inherent goodness, it has a 4.3-star rating after nearly 1,900 customer reviews.
So far, this list has covered hydraulic car jacks — basically jacks with swivel-caster wheels and long handles. But now it’s time to highlight a different type: The scissor jack. Mechanically operated, these are about as simple as they come, relying on a threaded screw and a crank handle instead of hydraulic fluid and a pumping mechanism. This compact Torin specimen can support 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds), the same as some of the other floor jacks highlighted here, but get this, it weighs less than a gallon of milk, just 7.7 pounds! This featherweight floor jack is also pretty compact, meaning you can keep one in your vehicle for when you get a flat. Scissor jacks certainly have their advantages, though they can be slower and more difficult to operate than other jacks.
Aside from floor and scissor jacks, there’s another type you should consider: the bottle jack. As the name suggests, these jacks look like little flagons with broad bottoms and pumping mechanisms on the side. These jacks are compact, very affordable and insanely powerful. The model highlighted here has an impressive 8-ton (16,000-pound) lifting capacity and yet it’s priced at just $48. The manufacturer also offers a broad range of other models, jacks that can support 4, 6, 10, 12, 20, 30 and even a whopping 50 tons, that’s 100,000 pounds! This 8-tonner has a lifting range of 9.5 to 18 inches, features drop-forged steel construction for enhanced durability and comes with a one-year warranty.
This is one of the best electric jacks you can buy. Yep, you read that right, it’s electric, running off the 12-volt power outlet in your vehicle. Basically an amped-up scissor jack, it features a small motor that spins the jack’s threaded section, conveniently raising the vehicle at the push of a button. It takes about 2 minutes for this jack to rise to its maximum position, which is 17 inches of lifting range. It also has a lift capacity of 3 tons (6,000 pounds), but that’s not all. Sold as a kit, it also comes with an electric impact-wrench, a small air compressor and other odds and ends, making it super versatile and something you’re going to want to keep in your ride for emergencies. This setup is also a strong value at just $130.
OK, now we’re talking! This right here, folks, is a serious floor jack, a top-quality, professional-grade jack. At $887 it is far, far from cheap, but for dealerships and repair shops, it’s tough to top. Built by OTC, a world-renowned company, this air-assisted hydraulic jack is a real honey and loaded with plenty of premium features. The spring-loaded handle, for instance, locks in three positions, the front wheels are fitted with roller bearings and the aft-mounted casters with ball bearings so it rolls and turns effortlessly, the hydraulic ram is chrome plated for enhanced durability and it has a bypass feature that prevents you from lifting more than its 5-ton (10,000-pound) weight-capacity rating. This is the Cadillac of Jacks. Actually, it’s better than that; it’s the Rolls-Royce of car jacks. And at a husky 196 pounds, it should be nigh on indestructible.
If you’re looking for a compact, lightweight jack, check out this little number. Clocking in at around 27 pounds, this aluminum floor jack features a low-profile design, so it fits under even vehicles slammed to the pavement, raises in just 3.5 pumps and tops out at 14.75 inches of lift range. But how much can this jack handle? How about a cool 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds)? Aside from all that, it also features a knurled aluminum handle, so you don’t slip when you go to lower a vehicle, plus this hydraulic floor jack has a cool blue paint job.
Here’s something a little different. This Hi-Lift mechanical jack (also referred to as a bumper jack) can be used for many things beyond just raising a vehicle, though it’s pretty good at that, too. It can help winch loads, clamp things down or spread them apart, and it’s even suitable for use off-road to help get you out of difficult situations. This jack has a rated weight capacity of 4,660 pounds, though it maxes out at a whopping 7,000 pounds, meaning it has a safety factor of 150%. Ensuring you don’t inadvertently exceed that big number, however, it is fitted with a sheer bolt that’s designed to prevent it from lifting beyond its absolute limit. With simple construction, there’s minimal to go wrong or fail over time. Despite its sturdy design, this jack weighs only around 28 pounds. Still on the fence? Well, people seem to love this tool. It also has a 4.7-star rating after nearly 1,800 reviews.
Jacks are great, but there are alternatives if you’re not comfortable using one. Ramps, for instance, are a great solution. Not only are they super affordable, they’re very easy to use. Just position them in front of a vehicle’s tires and drive (carefully!) on up until the tires bump the stops. And that’s pretty much it; you just elevated your car or truck enough to do some serious work and you did it without a floor jack. Made of rugged plastic, this set of RhinoGear ramps can support up to 16,000 pounds. Their 17-degree inclines mean they can fit under low vehicles and the non-skid surface reduces the chances of wheelspin while driving up them. Priced at just $55, these ramps weigh less than 21 pounds and have a 4.6-star rating after more than 1,600 customer reviews.
Comparison of best floor jacks in 2021
|Product Name||Price||Other Features|
|Best premium jack||TCE hydraulic ultra-low-profile, heavy-duty jack||$216||Lifts up to 20 inches, rated at 3 tons, quick-lift piston, two-year warranty|
|Best affordable, low-profile jack||Pittsburgh Automotive, heavy-duty, low-profile jack||$124||Nearly 24-inch maximum lift height, 3-ton capacity, quick-lift piston|
|Best value-priced jack||Pro-Lift hydraulic trolley jack||$36||12-inch maximum lift height, 1.5-ton capacity, includes storage case|
|Best scissor jack||Torin Big Red T10152||$20||15.125-inch maximum lift height, 1.5-ton capacity, drop-forged construction, compact and lightweight design|
|Best bottle jack||Torin Big Red T90803B||$33||18-inch maximum lift height, 8-ton capacity, adjustable upper stop, 1-year warranty|
|Best electric jack||Standtall SY007||$130||17-inch maximum lift height; 3-ton capacity, 2-minute lift time; kit includes electric impact wrench, mini air compressor, gloves and more|
|Best professional-grade jack||OTC HDJ5P||$887||5-ton capacity, professional quality, roller- and ball-bearing wheels|
|Best compact aluminum racing jack||Pittsburgh HA68053||$90||14 three-quarter inch maximum lift height, 1.5-ton capacity, lightweight aluminum construction|
|Best mechanical jack||Hi-Lift Jack HL484||$92||48-inch maximum lift height; 7,000-pound capacity; rugged construction; mechanical design; can be used for lifting, pulling, winching and spreading|
|Best jack alternative||RhinoGear 11912ABMI ramps||$50||8-ton capacity, 17-degree ramp angle, rugged plastic construction, lightweight design, anti-slip surfaces|
5 things to know about floor jacks
- One of the most important things to know is that you should never climb under a vehicle if it’s only supported by a jack. Never do this, like, ever because it’s super dangerous. If the jack fails or someone else bumps it, you could be maimed or crushed to death. Yeah, not pretty. Always use jack stands, which will support the vehicle should the car jack, you know, not.
- You can get away without using jack stands if you’re, say, only swapping out wheels or something where you’re not crawling underneath the car or truck, but even in these situations it’s better to be safe than sorry. If the floor jack drops it may not hurt you, but it could damage the vehicle, and that’s never good, either.
- Aside from jack stands, a good set of wheel chocks is recommended, too. These little wedges can prevent a car or truck from rolling back when lifted, something that, as you might imagine, can cause all kinds of trouble. Sure, the vehicle’s parking pawl, transmission or parking brake (or all three) should hold it stationary, but a little insurance is still a good idea.
- If you’re shopping for a floor jack, there are many varieties to choose from, but the rolling floor jacks are probably the best option for most do-it-yourselfers. They’re versatile, not too large and plenty powerful enough to lift even a heavy vehicle like a full-size truck.
- Using ramps instead of a jack can be a major time-saver, but they don’t work in every application. Ramps are great for performing oil changes or doing other underbody repairs, they won’t, however, be of much value if you have to remove one or more wheels as there’s still weight on all of them when you use ramps.
- Finally, never climb underneath a vehicle if it’s not also supported by jack stands. You’ve been warned.
You can’t go wrong with any of these jacks
Whether you opt for a burly bottle jack, a simple scissor jack or even a set of ramps, these tools make repairing and servicing vehicles far easier. The products highlighted here have their own advantages and disadvantages, but any one of them should serve the backyard mechanic well.
Aside from their varied chapes and sizes, floor jacks are offered at a huge range of prices, from top-quality, professional-grade units costing hundreds of dollars, to simple models you can pick up for $20 or less, there’s a jack to fit nearly everyone’s needs and budget. So, what are you waiting for? Get jacking!