See Related: Best High Lift Jacks For Raised Trucks
See Related: What Are The Most Common Auto Mechanic Injuries?
For Fun: The Roach Getting Into A Car Meme Craze
Disclaimer: it is hazardous to crawl under a raised car. ToolTally needs you to consult your owner’s manual and only use tools recommended by your owner’s guide. Follow all safety precautions. This article is only to share ideas, but you must evaluate the safety of each idea for your specific vehicle. ToolTally is not liable for damages, and these ideas will work well for one vehicle but will be deadly when used with another make and model. People have been crushed to death when a vehicle slipped and fell on them. No car repair is necessary to risk winning a Darwin award while fixing it. Don’t be that guy. Do it right.
Joke: I prefer you jack it up soberly.
If you need to jack a car up extremely high, you may have to raise it in stages with multiple jacks. Additionally, the higher your vehicle is off the ground, the greater the risk of the car sliding off the jack.
As we’ve covered earlier, always use jack stands to support your vehicle. Raising your car will be sone in two parts: First, you will jack your car with a floor jack, hydraulic jack or scissor jack. Secondly, you will then support your vehicle with jack stands.
If you can get the car raised more than a foot off of the ground, it makes it easier to remove a gas tank or put a trans jack underneath it for removing a transmission.
Jack stands have a broader base, are more stable, and have a lower risk of collapsing than hydraulics and mechanical jacks have. A car that is well-situated on four stands will be relatively stable.
Give it the good ole dad shake, though, to make sure it is super safe.
See Related: How to reach the backside of your engine
How To Jack A Car 2 Feet (Or More) Off The Ground
There are several ways to raise a car two or more feet off the ground so you can efficiently work underneath the vehicle to work on it. This can be especially handy when you need to do something like slide a transmission out.
Here is a straightforward system to safely lift the car off the ground.
- Park the car on a level surface of concrete.
- Put the car in first if it is a manual transmission or in park if it is automatic.
- Set the parking brake.
- Set chocks under the wheels to keep them from rolling.
- Set the hydraulic floor jack underneath the jacking points on the car as specified in the owner’s manual. (On most vehicles, these jack points are directly behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels).
- Jack the car and slip the jack stand underneath it. If you need to raise the car several feet off the ground, set your wood block under the car before setting the jack stand on them.
- Move the to the opposite wheel and repeat the process. Then, jack up the rear.
- Once all four wheels are off the ground, continue moving around the car in a circular fashion. Raising each wheel another 3 inches and setting the jack stand to a higher point.
If you have a flat tire, then you only need to raise the one wheel enough to change that tire.
Invest In Tall Jack Stands
In our article on the best jack stands for lifted trucks, we list some semi-truck jack stands. These are capable of supporting a hefty vehicle. They also adjust up to be several feet off the ground.
Investing in really big jack stands is a good idea if you have an SUV, RV or Truck that you need to raise off the ground. OTC makes some 48-inch jack stands. So the tall stands are out there.
Use Wood Blocks
Wood is a tried and true way to raise a jack. You can build out wooden platforms to be larger than the footprint of the jack you are using. I’ve used wood many times, and it always worked pretty well.
It is important to make them wide enough to gain plenty of stability. A 1:2 width: height ratio is an excellent guide. For example, if you need a 2-foot tall block, make sure the base is at a foot square.
Many folks keep 4×4″ or 6×6″ lumber around to provide an easy base for their jack stands. These seem to work well at about 2 feet long for the best stability. Don’t loose-stack these boards: secure them together in 2-foot-long, by 1-foot-wide bundles using smaller 2×4″ boards.
An 8×8 railway block can be found at your local landscape supply store.
Use Cinder Blocks
Concrete blocks are the first thing people think of when getting a car lifted more than 6 inches off the ground.
However, Cinder blocks are not recommended for jacking up a car since the blocks are so frangible and can crumble easily. Any sudden jolting of the car can cause the block to shatter.
Cinder blocks work great for thieves looking to steal wheels but are not recommended for supporting a car while you crawl underneath it. You don’t want the block to break and cause the vehicle to fall.
Invest In A Permanent Lift
All right, moneybags. Here is the sign you are looking for to upgrade your garage.
Most automotive shops have a permanent automotive lift that they use to raise cars for repair. These have a locking mechanism in place to keep the car from slipping down. They are undoubtedly the easiest and safest option.
Depending on the model, an electronic lift will cost $4,000 to $20,000. A single post is most affordable and takes up very little room. A 2-post lift is easy to use but still stores well. And a 4- post is the best choice if you need to store your vehicle off the ground.
You may also need a 220v power supply, which will cost extra in an electrician’s labor to get it wired.
Scissor Lifts For Cars
While a drive-on lift is every home mechanic’s wet dream, a small scissor lift is an excellent starting point.
These small lifts provide 4 points of contact on the car, have a wide base of support and raise the car evenly.
Many of them have added locking safety features to help protect the user.
Most of these scissor lifts run $2,000 to $6,000, making them more affordable for the part-time mechanic.
Dig A Pit
Most folks don’t want to break out the backhoe and dig a pit for accessing the underside of their car.
Lube shops have a concrete pit that a car can be driven over. This makes it easy to access the underside of a vehicle by simply driving over the pit.
You won’t want to just dig a pit in your yard and drive over it, as there is a risk of the ditch collapsing. But I have seen mechanics dig out their garage, install a pit and properly concrete and drain the pit for easy access to the underside without the need to raise it.
Use A Car Ramp
I rarely use car ramps, but they make it so easy to lift the front end of the car off the ground.
Just drive your car onto the ramp, support the front with a jack stand and then raise the rear with a hydraulic car jack. Install the jack stands in the rear to create a solid, stable, 4-point base for the car.
The downside is that this is only good for raising a car about 6 inches off the ground.
How To Lower A Car
When finished with your task, lowering the car is the opposite of raising it.
- Slip the car jack underneath and raise the vehicle to release the jack stands.
- After the stand is removed, begin by lowering the rear wheels. On a scissor jack, you turn the handle in the opposite direction. On a hydraulic jack, you turn the jack handle to release it.
- Continue to work from back to front wheels, and use chocks to re-secure the car.