Whether you’re changing a spare tire on the side of the road or you’re doing your own maintenance in the garage, one thing is sure – you have to get at least one wheel off the ground. That’s where a good quality car jack comes in.
A good jack will have the strength to lift your vehicle without damaging it. It will also offer the right lift distance, the right weight and easy movement.
Capacity: Capacity is the term given to the weight rating for the jack. Look for a good car jack that's rated for your vehicle’s weight. You’ll find 2-ton options, 3-ton jacks, 3.5-ton jacks, and more.
Lift Distance and Speed: This is a measure of how high the jack can raise the vehicle safely. You’ll want one that gives you enough room to do what you need to do safely. Remember that wheel/suspension play adds to the lift distance needed, and taller vehicles will need jacks with higher lift distances. Pay attention to the number of pistons as well – dual piston jacks can get to full height more quickly than single piston models (this has no impact on operability, just speed of lifting).
Weight: Here, we’re referring to the weight of the jack. Most floor jacks are heavy, but some are heavier than others. Consider your needs – will the jack be staying in your garage, or will it be used in other locations? The weight of the jack will affect how easy it is to carry.
Movement: Most car jacks have wheels, but not all wheels are created equal (and some jacks lack wheels – your OEM jack in the trunk, for instance). Make sure the jack offers easy movement if you’ll be using it in your garage or shop, but if you’ll be using it primarily on the road, you might want a model with a wide, flat bottom for better stability.
The right car jack will help you change a flat tire faster, perform maintenance more easily and more.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Car Jack and was authored by Valerie Johnston.