If you’re putting your car in the air for any reason other than changing a spare tire, you need to use jack stands. Never, ever leave your car supported only by a floor jack. If the jack lost pressure, or were knocked out of the way, the vehicle would come crashing down. Jack stands provide a stable solution to this problem.
There are several things to consider with the purchase of jack stands, but you should pay close attention to the weight rating, the construction material, the lock design and the lift height.
Keep the following in mind with regards to jack stands:
Weight Rating: All jack stands have a weight rating. This is the maximum weight they can hold safely. Make sure that you’re buying jack stands capable of supporting your vehicle’s weight (you’ll see the weight rating noted as 2-ton, 3-ton, 6-ton, etc.).
Construction Material: Most jack stands are made from steel. However, you’ll also find aluminum versions on the market. They’re usually more expensive, but they’re lighter so moving them around is easier. Aluminum also doesn’t rust.
Lock Design: There are several different lock designs on the market today. The most common is a ratchet/lever style. However, you’ll find pin-in-hole locks as well. Of the two, pin locks are slightly more stable, but the ratchet/lever style is perfectly usable.
Lift Height: This is a rating of the maximum extension possible with the jack stand without compromising safety. Make sure it’s enough to get the vehicle off the ground so you can do what needs to be done.
Base Width: Base width is a critical consideration. The wider the base, the more stable the jack stand will be. Pyramid shaped jack stands have very wide bases, but there are other models on the market (piston styles with octagonal bases).
The right jack stand will ensure that you’re able to get your car in the air safely.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Jack Stand and was authored by Valerie Johnston.