Jack Stands and Using Them
In many unfortunate events, we have heard that men have been crushed under cars in horrific accidents. These cars have been held by jacks only and not jack stands. Most of us do not realize that using a jack stand is much safer than only using a simple Jack.
The use of a jack and jack stands
A must-have tool for every self-mechanic is a good sturdy car jack with support stands. You need a car jack for numerous things. Some of them being: changing the oil, installing a new muffler, exhaust pipes, shock struts or absorbers; doing various suspension or steering work, replacing a transmission or a clutch, or rotating tires.
A typical jack is hardly of any use. They barely come handy while trying to lift a car, and even if they do, they are risky. They lack support stands and hence cannot be used for any major repair work.
Jack stands are towered or tripod-like in shape. They are designed to hold the weight of a raised vehicle. The jacks’ stands are placed under the vehicle frame to provide the necessary support to the elevated car. Every jack stand has a specific weight capacity.
After the vehicle is lifted up with the help of a jack, the stands are set at the right height, and put in place supporting the vehicle, and the vehicle is then lowered onto the stands. The top part of the jack is saddle shaped to support the vehicle’s axle.
The positions should be used on dull, hard and flat surfaces. Use the jack and stands for those vehicles whose weight capacity can be supported by the stands.
There are different types of jack stands. The categorization is done by maximum height and weight capacity.
Considerations among jack stands that are available
- Variety in stand material—The kind of material used to make jack stands can be of several types. The light weight ones, for small load capacity vehicles, are usually made of aluminum. The ones meant for heavy vehicles are made of steel or cast iron.
- Variety in fixed height—If kept fixed for the same vehicle, fixed height car jacks are a good option. They can be very efficient, but are not portable. They cannot be adjusted. Another advantage is that they lack any movable parts and therefore no occurrence of wear and tear is seen.
- Variety in adjustable height—As the name suggests, an adjustable jack stands can be adjusted to a desired height. The most popular type is the tripod stand, which uses a gauged center column for adjusting the height. A ratchet is used to set the height.
- Jack stands used for heavy vehicles use a pin made of steel—The pin is inserted in the center column in the holes present. Some high-quality stands come with a second safety pin.
- Rotation stands are also adjustable jack stands—They turn around the center column. The clockwise movement raises the height, while the anti-clockwise movement lowers the height.
How to properly use jack stands
- Four chocks (one for each wheel), a jack and jack stands are required
- Park the car on a hard flat surface. The surface should be free of debris. This will make sure that the jack stands are placed safely and appropriately on the ground.
- Jacking up a car on uneven or soft ground can be fatal or severely injurious.
- The vehicle should be parked using parking brake, which should be entirely engaged.
- The use of wheel chocks is necessary. They ensure that the car does not roll upon being jacked up. Use the chocks on either side of the wheels on the end of the car that is not being raised.
- Test the jack stands for defects. They can be checked using your hands or legs. You should make sure that the jack properly engages and disengages before being used.
- The jack stands should be able to hold the vehicle in place. The jack stand handles should also be checked for defects and should be ensured for proper working.
- The car’s jack points should be confirmed using a manual or visual inspection. The jack points are places underneath the car which are made strong enough to hold the vehicle when jacked up. They are usually factory approved points.
- Use the jack to properly raise the car high enough for any repair or maintenance work.
- Position the jack stands under the appropriate jack points. Ensure that they will fit tight enough and hold the vehicle in place. Make sure that they are placed on the flat ground, and that the ground is free of debris.
- Finally, remove the jack and let the vehicle rest on the jack stands. Check the jack stands again using your hands to ensure that they are secure.
Other safety methods can be used as well. Wooden blocks and bricks can be placed underneath the car on a flat surface. Make sure no material is used that can be crushed under the weight of the car.
Precaution tips for safely using jack stands
When used properly, a jack and jack stands are safe. Some of the safety measures to take are as follows:
- The owner’s manual should be consulted for knowing the approved lift and support areas on the vehicle.
- The work of the jack is only to raise the car. The jack stands are used to hold the vehicle in place.
- Never start repair work before putting in the jack stands. The car balanced only on a jack can be hazardous and you should never go underneath a car raised only on a jacks.
- Block the wheels of the car being jacked up. This will prevent the car from rolling forward.
- Jack stands should only be placed on a flat surface. The ground should not be soft or filled with debris.
- The parking brake should be used and engaged properly.
- When on jack stands, the vehicle should be shaken to check if the car is safely positioned on the jack stands.