Next to scissor jacks, bottle jacks are one of the most common jacks available in most auto repair shops and garages. These versatile jacks are not only useful for lifting vehicles for maintenance work but are also used in construction projects.
Even though the uses of bottle jacks are vast, the main question is how to use a bottle jack. And if you are unsure about what to do with it, you have come to the right place then!
We will be giving you a detailed account and a step-by-step guideline of using bottle jacks, so keep on reading.
Jump To Contents
- How Do Bottle Jacks Work?
- How Many Kinds of Bottle Jacks Are There?
- 10 Steps to Use a Hydraulic Bottle Jack
- Step 1: Park Your Car in a Good Spot
- Step 2: Place the Jack in the Right Place
- Step 3: Use Jack Stands If Working for Long
- Step 4: Check for Hydraulic Fluid Leakage or Any Other Defects
- Step 5: Check for Proper Connection
- Step 5: Locate the Lift Points
- Step 6: Place the Jack and Adjust, If Necessary
- Step 7: Pump and Lift
- Step 8: Disconnect and Release
- Step 9: Do Your Work
- Step 10: Remove Additional Tools
- Things To Look Out for
- Wrapping Up
How Do Bottle Jacks Work?
There are a variety of bottle jacks available in the market; however, they all operate in the same way; essentially by employing the same basic working principles. Bottle jacks operate by employing the hydraulic system mechanism, which is a mix of the lever principle and Pascal's law.
Let's look at the mechanism of bottle jacks:
There is a reserve of fluid located inside the jack, which is essentially a type of oil. When the lever is pulled, a small amount of fluid is extracted from the reserve and deposited in a hollow space beneath the small piston.
When you press down on the lever, the piston forces the fluid into the main cylinder, where a large piston is located. Every up-and-down movement pumps more fluid beneath the large piston, raising the pressure and expanding the cylinders.
The pressure is distributed equally in all directions, and the cylinder walls do not move; however, the piston does. This drives the piston upwards, which is then held in place by the pressure beneath it.
For lowering your bottle jack, rotating the release valve allows the fluid to revert back to the reservoir. The center piston progressively slides back down as the pressure under it reduces until it is entirely withdrawn.
How Many Kinds of Bottle Jacks Are There?
It's no news that the versatility of bottle jacks makes them one of the most sought options among users. If you're wondering if there are any other types of bottle jacks available or not, then the answer is yes, there are.
With that being said, bottle jacks all operate in a similar manner. Lifting reach and hauling strength are the two most noticeable variances that can be seen among the different types of bottle jacks found in the market.
Bottle jacks ranging from two tons to twelve tons are usually utilized for lifting vehicles such as trucks and cars. However, hundred-ton bottle jacks can also be found, which are mainly employed in construction projects and sites.
Another variation in bottle jacks includes the ones that are operated by compressing air instead of hand pumps. If you are not a big fan of manual labor or want to save time, then these types can be a life-saver! However, these are a bit on the expensive side, but with a compressor, it will be worth the money!
10 Steps to Use a Hydraulic Bottle Jack
Now that we have a picture of how a bottle jack works let us look at how one works. It's essential to know how to use jacks properly and safely to avoid any unwarranted accidents, so keep on reading!
Let's look at the step-by-step guidelines for safely using a hydraulic bottle jack.
Step 1: Park Your Car in a Good Spot
If feasible, park the vehicle on a flat surface. The best option is to take it to a garage; however, if it's urgent, try to find a level spot. If you are able to move your car, try to keep it out of the range of traffic. Make sure to lock the parking brake to avoid rollover.
Remember that bottle jacks are not designed to move with your vehicle and usually remain stationary. Therefore, there is a risk of the jack tumbling and come crashing if the vehicle moves when jacking it.
Step 2: Place the Jack in the Right Place
The jack should be on the reverse side of the wheels jammed. So, if you are lifting your vehicle from the back, it will be the front wheels, and if you're working on the front, it will be the rear wheels. This is yet another precaution against reversion or rollback.
Step 3: Use Jack Stands If Working for Long
When working beneath your vehicles or planning on leaving it on the jacks for extended periods, then it's essential to use jack stands. Inspect them for any faults before using them. It's imperative that you use good-quality jack stands for safety purposes whenever you work underneath vehicles.
If everything's good, place your jack stands in the appropriate position to support the vehicle's weight.
Step 4: Check for Hydraulic Fluid Leakage or Any Other Defects
Every time you use a bottle jack, make sure to look for defects or damages, such as leaking of hydraulic fluid. Make sure that the plug is securely fastened on the back of the barrel and ensure that the release valve is sealed as well.
If there is any need to bleed the jack, check out our guide for detail instructions on How to Bleed A Bottle Jack.
Step 5: Check for Proper Connection
To achieve proper connections with the vehicle, clean any dirt from the saddle from the top part of the lifting cylinder.
- Attach the Lever Correctly
Attach the lever and place it in the receiver on the barrel’s side. Ensure it’s completely inserted, or there is a chance of it popping out, and you don’t want that!
- Give a Few Pumps
Before you put on any weight on the bottle jack, make sure to test it out by giving it a few pumps. Press the lever upwards and downwards gradually. Twist the releasing valves counterclockwise to let the cylinder down and ensure that everything is working properly.
Use the notch on one end of the lever to activate the release valve. Tighten the release valve once more, which can be found on the front of the jack near the bottom of the barrel.
Step 5: Locate the Lift Points
This next step requires you to locate the lift point of your vehicle that you need to reach. The lift points are designed to withstand the force of the weight lifted without it buckling or fracturing.
These lift points are important to avoid harming the vehicle, so you should only raise from the approved lift points. If you are unaware of where the lift points are, you can always refer to the user guide or handbook.
Step 6: Place the Jack and Adjust, If Necessary
Then place the jack as near and directly beneath the lift point as you possibly can.
Insert the lever and start pressing the jack until the saddle and vehicle are almost connected. At this point, you can make any minor changes that might be needed to have the saddle properly aligned with the lift point.
Step 7: Pump and Lift
Slowly pump the jack until the vehicle is elevated enough above the ground for you to securely complete your task. Even though decent bottle jacks contain protective measures to avoid over-extension, it's always wise to elevate your vehicle no higher than necessary.
Step 8: Disconnect and Release
Disconnect the lever from the jack and then carefully crank the release valve counterclockwise using the notch on one end. This allows the lifting column to descend by draining the fluid from the cylinder. Allow the jack to gradually lower the vehicle until its weight is supported by the jack stands.
However, make sure to double-check the stands before lowering the vehicle to avoid any unwarranted accidents.
Step 9: Do Your Work
Now that you have finally set up your vehicle using the bottle jack safely, you are free to work. Once you are done with your work, repeat steps 9 through 11 until the weight is removed from the jack stands.
Step 10: Remove Additional Tools
The next step requires you to start by removing the jack stands and any other additional tools you were using and place them out of the way.
You're almost done! Finally, ensure that no one is still working under the vehicle or standing around it. Once it's deemed safe and you're certain everything is clear, carefully lower the vehicle till it is on the ground.
Things To Look Out for
Sufficient working space is highly recommended to work safely. Therefore, examine your workspace and make sure it is clear of any clutter and people or anything else that could cause you harm while working.
The importance of having a level ground is always a must when working with jacks. In instances of uneven or mushy ground, it's suggested to use a sturdy board to place under the bottle jack to somewhat alternate for level ground.
That's about it! Using a bottle jack is not rocket science. In fact, its easy-to-use attribute makes it one of the most convenient types of jacks used by many.
Keep in mind that it is imperative that you follow each and every step on how to use a bottle jack. No matter how deft you are with the tool and no matter how many times you lifted the vehicle, it's vital to exercise caution when working on it.
Lifting vehicles is a dangerous task that, when not done correctly, can result in significant injuries or may even have fatal consequences. Therefore, always ensure your safety before using these tools and make sure you use them correctly!