We all want to save a few bucks by not dropping off the car for maintenance and trying out some DIY job. Well, the first step to try it out would be getting yourself a jack stand. For any kind of repair work you are going to do underneath your car, a jack stand is a must to have.
You would see many working with a piece of wood or simply the floor jack whenever working off the grounds. This is very risky and recommended for starters. So, here is a complete guide on how to use a jack stands while repairing your cars.
Jump To Contents
- What Is a Jack Stand?
- Types of Jack Stands
- How Do Jack Stands Work?
- 6 Steps To Use A Jack Stand Safely And Correctly
- 3 Methods To Release A Jack Stand
- Safety Tips To Follow While Lifting Vehicle
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
What Is a Jack Stand?
Jack stands are basically adjustable stands used to support your vehicles when they lift a few tons using jacks for repair work. They are mostly made of metal and work as safety guards which prevent the vehicle from falling.
Usually, the Jack stands come with a base, supporting bars, locking pins, and release handle.
The base is a pyramid-shaped, four-legged frame at the bottom. Then comes the supporting bars which are normally ratcheted and can be adjusted as per the need of the car to be lifted.
It connects the car with the stand. The locking pins are placed against the stand, and it works as a failsafe for the support bars if it ever falls. The release handle helps to lower the bars of the stand.
Types of Jack Stands
There are three common Jack stands available:
1. Pin lock
2. Screw lock
3. Ratchet lock
1. Pin Lock
The pin lock system of Jack stands comes with different levels of holes in the stand or pole inside the Jack stand. The car is lifted up to its desired height of need, and the Jack stand is frozen at that hide using pins locking the pole at that height. This is how pin lock jack stands work.
2. Screw Lock
This type of Jack stand is secured with screws at the desired height. The jack stand is lifted at its desired height, and then it needs to be screwed from the base. Although it is the most supportive way to hold your car, it is the least used. Because it takes a lot of time to screw the stand, and you can quickly change heights if you want to.
3. Ratchet lock
This type of jack stands come with a ratchet which has some levels or teeth to hold the stand at the desired height. Then it is locked using a locking pin which prevents the pole to fall down.
It is the easiest one to use, but it has a higher chance of failure due to the lack of stability of the teeth it has. It might start getting rusty and become unable to hold the heights.
How Do Jack Stands Work?
The jack stands have strong foldable legs at the base to make them stand evenly. The supporting bars attached to it holds the center column or tube, which adjusts the height.
On top of the center tube, there remains the saddle which is directly attached to the vehicle. Once the saddle is attached, the pole can be adjusted to lift the car.
When the desired height is reached, the pole is locked using the mechanism needed for the particular type of jack stand. Once the job is done, the car is lifted down using the release handle.
6 Steps To Use A Jack Stand Safely And Correctly
Now that we know the mechanism of jack stands let’s see how to use a car jack stand.
Step 1: Keep Your Vehicle At An Even Surface
Make sure that there are no bumps or uneven surfaces where you park your car. Parking your vehicle on uneven surfaces might cause the jacks, or the jack stands to slip and cause an accident. Also, you won’t be able to work properly on an uneven surface. It’s best to park it in your driveway or any garage available to work.
Step 2: Activate Parking Brakes
Only turning off your car won’t be sufficient. Make sure to pull your parking brakes. It would ensure that your tires don’t move and remain still the entire time you work. Use some tire wedges or chocks around all the wheels or your car if you are lifting the back part of the car.
Step 3: Locate The Jack Points
You need to locate the areas where you will place the jack on your vehicle before placing the jack stand.
The correct locations for the jacks would be included in your user’s guide. Try to place the jacks as close as possible to the allocated points.
Step 4: Raising The Vehicle
Before placing the jack stands the vehicle needs to be raised to the point where you can place the jack stand easily. Usually, it needs about 2-4 inches to be lifted to place the jack stand. Try to avoid lifting the vehicle higher than you need or there is a chance of not placing the stand correctly.
Step 5: Placing The Jack Stand Carefully
This is a very important part. Because if you don’t place your jack stands properly, your car will fall. So, carefully place the jack stand on the vehicle’s pinch points.
If you see that the vehicle does not have any pinch point, you can attach the saddle of the jack stand to your vehicle’s frame.
Make sure the saddle is properly attached to your vehicle. If needed, you can also give the vehicle a jerk or shake to see if it moves whimsically or not. If it's sturdy, then you are good to go.
Step 6: Adjusting Height
Make sure to check if the height is workable or not. If you think it needs to be lifted or lowered, then simply adjust the height of the jack stand. Be careful while adjusting the heights, or the vehicle might fall abruptly, and you might get hurt.
3 Methods To Release A Jack Stand
When you are done repairing your vehicle and doing its regular maintenance, you need to remove the jack stands and place them back on the ground properly. This step might be tricky but not that hard.
Method 1: Raising The Vehicle
Again you need to lift up your vehicle. Now place the jack to hold it to remove the jack stand. Make sure to place the jack properly so that you can lift the vehicle easily.
Method 2: Pulling Out The Jack Stand
Once the jack is placed, and the vehicle is lifted up, slowly remove the jack stand from underneath the vehicle. While pulling out the jack stand, make sure to do it steadily or it might create imbalance, and the vehicle might fall.
Method 3: Lowering The Jack Using Jack Release
Once you are done pulling out the jack stand, now it's time to lower the car. Using the jack release, slowly lower the car so that it comes back to its normal position. To avoid bumps while lifting the vehicle, hold the lever very low to the ground.
Safety Tips To Follow While Lifting Vehicle
- Avoid using Harbor Freight jack stands as it was proven defective in the year 2020
- Make sure to check if the capacity of your jack and jack stands is okay for your vehicle or not
- Never use jacks for supporting the vehicles, always use jack stands
- Having a flat and even surface is a must for working on a lifted vehicle for security
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to use a jack stand with a hydraulic jack or lift?
Jack stand is always a must wherever lifting a car. Jacks solely cannot work as a support for the vehicle to stand. Jacks have the possibility to fall and drop the car from the elevated position. That is why jack stands are always recommended along with jacks for supporting the car.
How long can you leave a car on jack stands?
You can leave your car jack stands overnight without any problem. But you must make sure that your car is parked on a leveled surface with no bumps. You must also make sure the car is immobilized, and the parking brakes are pulled.
Also, double-check if the jack stand is placed properly on the car or at night. If these things are okay, then you are good to go.
How much are jack stands?
The price of the jack stands would depend on a few factors like its weight, its brand, etc. Generally, the price range is from $20-$70. It depends on how many tons it weighs. Again, good brands may cost a bit more than the budget ones. It would also depend on the type of jack stand you are buying.
How safe are jack stands?
You can never guarantee 100% safety but jack stands are very to use unless it gets decayed or unless you make any rookie mistake like not parking on an even surface or placing the jack stands inappropriately.
Apart from this, jack stands are quite reliable. Its reliability also depends on its type. Different type gives different level of reliability.
Using a jack stand is quite simple if you know the dos and don’ts of it. It is always nice to save a little budget by knowing how to use a jack stand, you might want to consult any mechanic if you are not confident enough.
But if you think you will be able to pull it off, make sure to follow the process summarized above step-by-step. Once you start repairing your own car, there’s no going back.