Proper and Safe Use of a Floor Jack

December 16th, 2010

Operating a floor jack may seem like second nature to most professionals, but many home / hobbyists may not know all the facts about operating a service jack even though they may feel confident that they do.
Working with a floor jack is serious business. There’s a lot on the line. Your safety, and your car’s well being. Even though most home hobbyists feel confident using a standard automotive Floor Jack, you’ll often see on the news or in the papers a story about someone who was injured or killed because of improperly operating the jack. There is no reason this should ever occur. Even if a jack malfunctions, if you follow proper procedures, you will be completely safe when using proper safety procedures.
The most common culprit is not using automotive jack stands when using an Automotive Jack. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, there is no excuse for not using jack stands. If you’re under the car performing service on it, and the jack saddle creeps down due to a leaking hydraulic cylinder, it will set the car down on your chest before you have a chance to realize it. And there is not much hope once this occurs, especially if you are alone. Operating a floor jack without also using jack stands is gambling with your life.
Another frequent reason for accidents is improper placement of jack stands. Jack Stands should be strategically placed under those structural jacking points designated by the vehicle manufacturer. If you’re not certain that the placement of the stand is correct, do your research and make sure. You can typically find this information in the owner’s manual of the vehicle, or other reference material on the market.
Another shortcut people take is they will use a car jack and stands on a surface that is not level. Obviously, when you get a flat tire on the side of the road, it is not always possible to get to perfectly level ground.
Make sure the floor jack and stands are on a solid surface. Don’t use it on soft ground or surfaces that might cause it to sink once a load is placed on it.  Keep hands and fingers free from any pinch points. Center the saddle on the lifting surface. If it’s off center, it could have a tendency to slip off. Make sure it’s in park and chock a wheel to prevent it from shifting.
Inspect the jack for leaking hydraulic oil, cracks, or any other potential defects before every use.
When replacing the hydraulic oil, make sure to use only the recommended oil. Keep the cylinder clean. If any dirt or sand gets on the piston, wipe it clean with a rag right away. If you allow dirt to remain on it while lowering or raising the jack, you could potentially harm the seals and cause a fluid leak.
Follow these instructions and you’ll avoid any potential catastrophic mishaps and avoid being another statistic.


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