Jacking up a car isn’t difficult, but vehicles with a low profile require a unique, low-profile jack to lift it for even something as simple as a tire change. A standard jack isn’t going to get the job done.
If you have slammed your car to the ground, you’ll want to invest in a specialty, low-profile jack for when you need to jack it up. (We talked about these jacks in the article on what to do when your car falls off of a jack)
The directions in the owner’s manual will give you instructions for changing a tire when the car is at normal height, not lowered height. Aside from showing you where the designated jack points are, those instructions are mostly unusable.
Lowered cars require special car jacks to lift them. Only a floor jack with a low minimum height can get under your car and lift it. You may also need a specialized jack pad to connect the low-profile jack to the jack point on your car.
If you don’t have a floor jack, you can also try alternative methods that may help you jack your low car. Ramps, pieces of wood, and other makeshift tools may make it easier to get a standard jack under your car so that you can lift it, but you’re still going to need a floor jack to get it off the ground.
How to Fit a Car Jack Under a Lowered Car?
The first thing you’ll need to jack up a low car to fix a flat tire is a floor jack for lifting low cars. A bottle jack or scissor jack is too tall to fit under lowered cars.
When you lift a lowered car, you need a jack with the lowest height, a feature only available on a floor jack. So you can use a bottle jack or trolley jack if you find another way to get the car lifted first, but it’s best to go in with a floor jack from the start.
The min lift range on a floor jack is generally between 3 and 5 inches. This means that when fully retracted, the jack is 5 inches tall.
You’ll need to measure your car’s clearance first to see what level will fit under the car. Low cars with a clearance of 3, 4, or 5 inches can usually be lifted with a standard floor jack. But if your car has 2.75 inches of clearance (or less!), you’ll need a special floor jack made for extremely low cars.
How to Use Ramps for a Low Car to Increase its Clearance
If you don’t have a low-profile floor jack and need to raise your lowered car, you can either use a ramp or a small block of wood to lift the car slightly. From there, you can fit a normal-size jack under it.
Buy a Ramp
Sometimes you can drive the car up on a ramp to get the clearance you need to jack it up.
That said, depending on how slammed your car is, it may not be able to be driven on the ramp without scraping the bumper.
Most vehicle ramps are under $50. If you’re into low cars, it’s worth the investment to get a ramp. When you get a ramp, you won’t have to do any extra work to get most vehicles lifted to a 2.75-inch clearance so that you can use a floor jack to lift it.
Use Pieces of Wood
If you don’t want to buy a ramp, you can use a piece of wood instead of a ramp. It’s cheaper, and most people have a piece of wood lying around that is about the right size to lift a low car.
If your car is lower than 2.75 inches and you need to get it up at least 2.75 inches to get a floor jack under it, you can lift a car to the 2.75-inch mark by driving it up on a 2×4 piece of wood.
Use a piece that is small enough height to fit under your car behind the front wheels.
Drive the car up on the wedge, and that should give it enough lift that you will be able to get a floor jack under it.
How to Jack Up a Low Car Step-by-Step Guide
Use this handy step-by-step guide to jack up a low car to change a flat tire:
1. Find Hard, Flat Ground for Jacking Your Low-profile Car
Your car must be on solid ground before you jack it up. This is a core piece of putting safety first.
The best place to jack a low car is in a garage with a solid concrete floor that is level. Concrete is the best surface when working on cars since concrete will give the most stable support.
It’s not always possible to have your car safely in a garage when you need to lift it. If you are lifting it on the side of the road, try to get the car evenly on solid packed dirt if there isn’t enough asphalt shoulder to position the car on.
See Related: Jacking A Car On An Incline
Avoid surfaces like loose gravel or any inclined or uneven surface. Before you jack a low car, always put it in park (or in first gear if it has a manual transmission). Put the parking brake on too. Even though it’s not necessary to use the parking brake to change a tire, it’s a good idea to make sure it is on for safety.
Safety is the most important thing to consider when putting a low car on a jack.
2. Find the Car Jacking Points Under the Low-Ground Clearance Car
Regardless of the vehicle, four main jack points will be located near each wheel. On the front tires, the jack points are on the backside of the wheels, just behind the wheels and underneath the car doors. On the back wheels, the jacking points are in front of the tires.
You also can look in the owner’s manual to find their location. Once you find the first jack point, it is pretty easy to find the other ones
3. Chock The Wheels On Your Lowered Car
The last thing that you need to do before raising a lowered car is to chock the wheels. Chocking the wheels is another safety measure that will stop the car from rolling while you are trying to lift it. The wheels should be blocked, especially if the car is on a ramp or a wedge and is inclined,
How to Jack Up a Low Car With Floor Jacks
Once you have ensured the car is on solid ground and found a first jacking point, you’re ready to raise your low-profile car with your floor jack. Start by sliding the jack under the jacking point. Pump the jack by raising the handle up and down multiple times. The jack should lift your vehicle. Stop when the vehicle is at the height you want it to be.
Where to Place Car Jack Stands Under Your Low-Profile Car
After you have lifted the car to the height where you want it you need to put the jack stand underneath to hold the car at that height safely.
The Jack stand should be placed as close to the jack as possible, and the car should be lowered slowly onto it.
Once the jack stands are in place, you will remove the jack, and the stand will hold the car up.
Make sure that the jack stand is next to the jack so that when you remove it, the car is supported by the jack right under the jacking point.
Make Sure Your Car Is Secure Before Removing Your Jack
To ensure your car is secure on the stand before you remove the jack, take your hand and push on the car to wiggle it a little bit.
If it moves, it’s not secure on the stand. If the car stays in place when you wiggle it, your jack stand is in the right place.
Also, check that the wheels are blocked to keep the car from rolling. When you’re sure that the car is secure on the stand, you can remove the floor jack underneath the car. Then you can do whatever work you need to do on the car.
How to Lower The Car When Finished
Put the floor jack back under the jack point next to the jack stand to lower the car off the jack stands.
Pump the jack to raise the car. Lift the car up enough that it rests on the floor jack, not on the jack stand. When the car is firmly supported, you can remove the jack stand. Then rotate the floor jack handle counterclockwise to lower the car to the ground.