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Jack stands should be placed on either the frame of your car, on a solid through-axle, or on the specified pinch rail. You may need to reference the owner’s manual. Generally, you will place them near the floor jack that you are using to raise your vehicle.
If you’ve worked on cars, you know how common it is for a car to slide off of a jack. Jack stands protect you in the event of a car jack failure. With their sturdier base and locking mechanism, they provide additional safety before you go underneath your car.
It is possible to change a flat tire with only a floor jack, and no jack stands. This is a simple task where you are not going underneath your vehicle. However, anytime you are going beneath a vehicle, you should use jack stands to provide additional safety.
On larger vehicles like pickup trucks or SUVs, Jack stands should be placed under the vehicle’s frame. The stands will be placed at a marked pinch weld on smaller vehicles that use a “unibody” construction, such as cars and minivans.
After they are locked into place, the car is lowered down onto them. When you are finished with your project, you jack the car up, remove the jack stands, and you are good to go.
Many home mechanics are impatient and will not “waste their time” with Jack stands. Only a few deaths are more painful than being slowly crushed by a car. Avoid this fate by investing a few extra minutes to properly secure your vehicle with jack stands before working on it.
A jack is used to raise a vehicle, but a jack stand helps safely hold the vehicle during an auto repair.
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- Never work a car supported by only a jack without the added safety of jack stands.
- Activate the parking brake and use wheel chocks
- This article provides general information. Read your vehicle’s owner’s guide for safety information we may not have covered.
- Never place a car jack or jack stand under the oil pan.
Place Jack Stands Under The Vehicle Frame
As shown in this picture, on trucks and SUVs, positioning the jack stand under the vehicle frame is the best option.
Place Jack Stands At Jack Points
As shown in this picture, jack points are clearly marked on small cars near their tires. In this case on a Toyota Prius, there are small divots that a jack can connect to.
How To Use Jack Stands
1 Park On Level Ground
Most of us work on our driveways with a natural slant built into them to keep water from settling. You need to find a flat surface to park your car. It might be smarter to park it in a flat spot in your yard. Parking on a hill increases the risk of a car sliding off a jack.
Keep your car on a level surface for the safest working condition. Working on a flat driveway or inside your garage is your best bet.
2 Set The Parking Brake
The parking brake keeps your car locked in place. Setting the parking brake helps eliminate play from your wheels and eliminates deadly shifts from your tires. Additionally, it would help if you used wheel chocks to block your tires. When jacking the front wheels, the rear wheels should have the chocks placed under them and vice versa.
Wood blocks can be used as chocks.
When changing the brakes, you cannot set the emergency brake. In this case, chock two wheels that are not currently having the brakes changed, and move the chocks from wheel to wheel as you work your way around the car.
The car should be in park. If it is a manual, it should be in first gear.
3 Position Your Jack At Lift Points
In your owner’s manual will be instructions on the best place to lift your car. Many car floors are made from relatively thin sheet metal. Placing a jack at a thin point will bend the metal.
Ideally, the hydraulic jack should be positioned on the frame of your car. If your car does not have a frame, look for a doubled-mounted metal seam with a small arrow to indicate a jack point.
Generally, the jack will be placed by one tire and will lift that single tire.
Be careful not to position the hydraulic jack on a stabilizer bar by the wheels. I’ve had to replace stabilizer bars after a customer put their jack under them. After they bent it with their jack, it wasn’t easy to find a new stabilizer bar for them. (Don’t believe everything you read on Wikihow).
If you are raising the entire front of your car (or the entire rear), you may look for a safe place to jack your car from the middle. The jack stands, however, will still be placed near the four wheels.
4 Raise Your Vehicle Slowly
In most cases, you will only need to raise your vehicle by 2-3 inches. Pump the jack handle up and down to raise the car.
The higher you jack your car, the more unstable it will be.
In most cases, all you need is about 3 inches of lift off the ground. However, you can lift it higher as needed.
Don’t use scissor jacks as they are only designed for limited use on changing tires.
5 Jack Stand Placement
Before using jack stands, check the weight of your car and verify that your jack stands are rated to bear the weight of the vehicle. If placing a stand near each tire, it will only need to bear 25% of your vehicle’s total weight. If you are unsure how much your vehicle weighs, you can check the plate placed just inside the driver’s side door.
The smallest jack stands support at least two tons. This is ample support for most vehicles.
The jack stand should be placed on level ground near your car jack. Place the jack stand underneath a jack point on your car. It can also be placed on the frame for a secure hold.
Keep in mind that you should not crawl underneath your car while only sitting on the hydraulic jack.
6 Adjust The Jack Stand’s Height
Lift the top of the jack stand up as close to the frame as you can. Jack stands have preset locking points. In some cases, you will need to raise the car a little more in order to access a locking point that is high enough.
Slip the safety pin into its hole once the jack stand is raised to the desired height. Or, if using a lever-operated stand, use the lever to make sure you have a strong connection with the jack head.
7 Lower Your Vehicle
After the jack head is in place, turn the lever of your hydraulic floor jack counterclockwise to slowly lower it down so that the vehicle rests securely on the jack stand.
You can then remove the floor jack. If you need to jack your car up on all fours, you will then move the floor jack to a new position and repeat the process of installing a new jack stand at the wheels opposite from the one you just placed.
When raising your entire car off the ground, always raise the two front tires or the two rear tires together.