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How To Fix A Floor Jack That Won’t Lift

Unless you have enormous biceps, you most likely use a floor jack to elevate the chassis of your vehicle. Now, it’s common for a floor jack to malfunction at an unfortunate moment; and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.

There are several reasons why it might happen. And every problem has multiple solutions; the same goes for a floor jack. So, here, we will teach you how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift. So, let’s get started.

Your floor jack is only a human (sorry, only a tool). This can throw a fit at any moment, and here are a few reasons why:

Reason 1: It’s Too Heavy!

We think this goes without saying. Anyone who has ever seen a floor jack in action should know that if the load is too heavy, the jack won’t work. It is not an electrical machine with an incredible amount of power but rather a manually operated elevator tool.

Different floor jacks might have varied amount of weight-bearing capacities. Usually, a regular floor jack (that is compatible with your vehicle) will be able to lift three times its weight.

So, try unloading your car. Remove luggage, people, or anything heavy to reduce the weight as much as possible. If it still doesn’t work, We wonder why you even bought a floor jack that’s not suitable for your particular model of vehicle?

Reason 2: It’s Grease Town

Now, several things can go wrong with the oil. For those who don’t know, there is a tiny tank (more like a bottle) that stores oil. You can check the oil level by looking at the bigger window that’s usually placed in front of the piston beneath the O-ring.

Too much oil is going to create an inadequate room that prevents the piston from moving enough. And too less oil will make the movement rusty and inefficient. The rule of thumb is that the oil should be somewhere around 3 out of 16 parts.

A common reason why there might be too less oil is that there could be a leak. Check the ground to confirm this. If you find a trace of oil, fix the leak.

Another thing to remember is to use good quality hydraulic oil. Cheap or low-grade oils might have debris, grease clot, and other impurities that not only makes your floor jack inefficient but also lowers its lifespan.

In these situations, remember to:

  • Check the oil level: Remove or add jack oil depending on the level
  • Figure out if the oil is good quality: Don’t buy oil from random sellers
  • Look for debris: Renew your oil once in a while to prevent this 

Reason 3: Lubricant Issues

All of the moving parts of your floor jack require routine lubrication. You don’t want squeaky noise or interrupted pumping from the jack now, do you? The saddle, arm linkage as well as all of the hinges should be greased.

A floor jack that won’t lift might be a result of tacky lubrication or the lack thereof. A lubrication issue is easily detectable as you will find the piston rather heavy and the movement punctuated.

Here is a tip, try using a lubricant that soaks through unreachable creases. It is time-consuming and unproductive to take apart the entire stuff just for greasing.

Lucas Red N Tacky 10005, Triflow, or any heavy gear oil can be used in this case. If you haven’t used your floor jack in a long time, you might want to replace the lubricant with a newer batch.

Reason 4: I Am Trapped!

Aside from debris, air and water can get stuck inside a floor jack. If this happens, your floor jack might end up losing all functions. Air creates bubbles in the oil, and water creates foam- both situations are unfortunate for a floor jack.

You can detect it easily by looking for signs of foamy or frothy leakage around the O-ring. Just bleed the floor jack (we will be touching it up at the end of the article), and your floor jack should be good to go.

Reason 5: Release Valves Not Tightened

A good reason why your floor jack is not lifting is because of a loose release valve. Here is a breakdown for dummies, release valves are like your trunk muscles. Without being squeezed enough, they can’t build up enough pressure to lift things.

Take a close inspection of the entire jack and tighten all the release valves (but not too much!) Also, notice if the valves require new bolts.

Reason 6: Damage And Control

There are a number of ways your floor jack could get damaged. Such as, trying to lift an enormous weight might cause it to collapse, loosening up the bolts and rings, rendering the entire tool useless. If fixable, you can just screw them back in place. Otherwise, time to get a new floor jack.

Please remember that maintenance is an important part of minimizing the possibilities of damage and malfunction. Always store the floor jack in a dry place on its base (not sideways). Keep the jack clean and free from dust. Invisible dust might gather and sip through tiny gaps to jam the floor jack.

Fixing A Floor Jack That Won’t Lift

Now that we have learned a kindergarten worth of reasons why your floor jack won’t lift, here are a few tips on how to fix a hydraulic floor jack:

fixing the hydraulic jack that wont hold pressure

Method 1: Bleed The Floor Jack

It’s not a Linkin Park song; it is a maneuver. Bleeding a floor jack is one of the most useful troubleshooting methods. You might as well consider this as a rebirth of floor jack after it has been bled.

1. Remove The O- Ring And Check for A Leak: Sometimes you might need to replace the O-ring with a new one or need to add a gasket to its rim to prevent oil leaks.

2. Rotate The Piston: Rotate it counterclockwise a few times until you find it loose enough to demonstrate a pumping motion.

3. Pump It Up: Pretend you are filling the air in the tires of your childhood bike. Repeat it five to seven times, and on the last pump, bring the piston down all the way to the ground. This is a quick hack that will save you time. If you want to learn in detail, read this article on bleeding a floor jack correctly and safely.

Method 2: Refill The Hydraulic Oil

Even though it shouldn’t be a new point, as we mentioned previously, this deserves an honorable mention since it can be done while bleeding the floor jack.

Having the O-ring removed, use a flat screwdriver to take apart the tiny screw immediately in front of the piston. Put the nozzle of hydraulic oil in the gap and slowly add oil drop by drop.

After accomplishing these steps, put back the screw and the O-ring to place. Your floor jack is a new guy now.

To get a detailed guide to refill the hydraulic jack with oil, check out this article.

refill the hydraulic oil

Bonus: How to Repair A Floor Jack That Won’t Hold Pressure

This is a slightly different issue. In this case, your floor jack might still lift; but gives up midway or falls down after lifting. Now, this is a serious situation and might damage your vehicle.

Don’t panic; this issue is also fixable with the troubleshoots mentioned above. Practice good maintenance and inspection habits.

Final words

Better hope that you won’t get a flat tire anymore. But even if you do, you won’t have to bite your hands in anger. Thanks to this guide, you now know all the details on how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift.

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