LAST UPDATED: March 22, 2019
Best Car Jacks: Our Top Picks for Easy Maintenance
Changing tires and brakes is easy and safe with a reliable car jack
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON March 22, 2019
Whether used for lifting a car to rotate tires or to work on the brakes, car jacks are a vital part of any garage. The best floor jacks are durable and fit your budget as well as your needs. In our guide below, we’ve considered factors including value, quality, and application in order to select the best picks out of the many available in the marketplace.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy Car Jacks?
- Rotate tires in your garage. Skip shelling money to a mechanic for basic maintenance you can do at home. A floor jack is an indispensable, time-saving tool to rotate your tires. To get the job done, you’ll need at least one separate jack stand. Consider a low profile jack if you have a compact car such as a sedan.
- Change a flat tire without roadside assistance. One of the most common uses associated with car jacks is to lift the car in order to swap out the flat tire for a spare. You don’t have to be an expert to get this done. With a portable jack, you can lift your car and install the spare tire in minutes, as opposed to waiting for roadside assistance.
- Change brake pads, oil, or transmission fluid. Car jacks are a must-have if you want to change your vehicle’s brake pads or oil. With a lightweight floor jack stored in your garage, you can lift your car with minimal effort and access the oil drain plug. A low-profile car jack is all that’s needed to raise most low-sitting sedans, allowing you to access the transmission.
- Lift a heavy load. While car jacks are commonly used to lift cars, just about any large or heavy load is fair game. As long as your jack is firmly grounded on a level surface, you can safely raise any object, such as a lawn mower, if it doesn’t exceed the jack’s lift capacity.
Types of Car Jacks
The most portable of all floor jacks are the scissor jacks, and most trucks come equipped with one. There are no hydraulics to speak of since these are hand-operated and are made to fit in the trunk, often packaged along with the spare tire. These jacks are a go-to when you need to change a flat tire.
These are a step up from scissor jacks. Although they are small in size, bottle jacks are heavier and optimal for larger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs. They feature either aluminum construction or steel construction and have a higher lifting range. These jacks use a hydraulic system to operate and can raise a vehicle very quickly. You’ll need to plug a tire iron into the jack and pump it several times. These offer more value than floor and scissor jacks and tend to be inexpensive.
The most robust and expensive car jacks are the hydraulically-operated floor jacks, also known as trolley jacks. These are heavy duty and generally fast and dependable. Designed for garage use, these are optimal for frequent use. You can easily lift a large vehicle, including an SUV, that weighs up to three or four tons. These floor jacks offer a sturdier base because they are often longer and wider than scissor and bottle jacks.
Top Brands of Car Jacks
Arcan is a popular brand of car jacks and other aftermarket automotive equipment manufactured by PowerStation, which is located in South Carolina. The company carries several other brands of jacks, including NOS. Some of PowerStation’s most popular Arcan jacks are the Arcan XL20 Black Service Jack and the Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack.
Pittsburgh is the house brand of Harbor Freight Tools, a private tool and equipment retailer founded in 1977 and based in Calabasas, California. In addition to e-commerce, the firm has more than 900 stores in 47 states. Among their highest-rated products is the Pittsburgh Automotive 3 Ton Heavy Duty Ultra Low Profile Steel Floor Jack.
The Pro-Lift brand is manufactured by Shinn Fu Company of America, Inc. In business for more than 40 years, it operates in North, Central, and South America. SFA operates a 100,000-square-foot warehouse, testing facility, and product showroom. The Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack is one of their most popular products.
Torin Jacks, Inc. is a small manufacturer based in Ontario, California. Its Big Red and Black Jack brands have a solid reputation for being durable and affordable. Torin’s bestsellers include the Torin Big Red Air Hydraulic Bottle Jack and the Torin Big Red Hydraulic Trolley Floor Jack.
Car Jack Pricing
- $10-$100: Don’t write off cheap car jacks just yet. A good jack can be purchased at this price range, including reliable scissor and floor jacks. A compact floor jack offers portability and is easy to store in your car’s trunk. If you are looking for a lift capacity of around three tons, you can purchase a durable floor jack made with heavy-duty steel that comes with a solid warranty.
- $100-$200: If you’re looking to work on a low-sitting car (a lowrider, for instance) and expect to use the jack frequently, there are several high quality, low-profile floor, and bottle jacks within this price range. These inexpensive jacks are made with heavy-duty steel and are quick and easy to set up in your garage.
- $200 and up: More premium floor jacks are often lightweight because they are made with aluminum, These jacks are equipped with rubber pads, safety valves, and other features. These are the kind you want to buy for heavy use in a home garage or in a professional garage.
One of the main considerations you should have when buying a car jack is how you will use it, so the lift range is significant. Most floor jacks are rated from one to four tons of lift capacity, so if you have a lighter vehicle, you can opt for a smaller capacity. If you plan to lift an SUV or a pickup truck regularly, consider something more robust.
One of the most important features to look for in your jack is just how fast it raises your car. Some work efficiently and quickly, while others will require significant effort and many pumps. A properly working hydraulic jack should take three or four pumps to fully raise your car.
Durability is a sought-after feature when purchasing a tool you’ll use around the garage often or, if it’s a compact jack, you’ll use in emergencies. Defective parts and malfunctions are simply a reality of life. To protect your investment against any defects or poor performance, a solid manufacturer’s warranty is a necessity. Consider how you plan to use the jack because a longer warranty will give you more peace of mind.
- Be cautious. For instance, if you are lifting a vehicle that weighs two tons, it’s best to use a car jack that has a lift capacity of at least two-and-a-half tons. Ratings are very specific and should be followed closely.
- Construction: Jacks need to be durable to withstand the weight of a vehicle for safety. Most heavy-duty floor jacks are made of steel, but aluminum is also widely used. A lightweight floor jack has the added benefit of being portable and easier to store.
- Weight: Always base your buying decision around how you plan to use your jack. Are you going to use it in your home garage or do you plan to keep it in your trunk? Compact floor jacks weigh less than other jacks, which often weigh more than 60 pounds. The type of jack you buy will vary on how it's going to be used.
Best Car Jacks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Adding a reliable, high-caliber car jack to your garage doesn’t have to break the bank. This all-in-one bottle jack comes with a jack stand, is very lightweight, and is equipped with a safety bar. With a three-ton lifting capacity, this is optimal for vehicles weighing up to 4,000 pounds.
With a height range of 11 to 21 inches and weighing just a shade over 22 pounds, choose this lightweight car jack and carry it in your truck, SUV or van. One of the best features to appreciate is the large and sturdy base to stabilize the tool as you raise and lower the vehicle. Another great feature is the strong safety bar that firmly locks in at the desired height.
The Powerbuilt jack does have some areas of concern, with the most obvious being that it’s not made for low-profile cars. Due to the manufacturer’s quality control issues, this bottle jack may arrive with shoddy welding, and it is known to leak hydraulic oil. To help protect buyers against these and other problems, Powerbuilt offers a one-year warranty.
If you are looking for a great jack at a bargain price, this Torin T10152 will get the job done. This scissor jack is ideal for emergency use and is compact enough to be stored in most cars. It’s easy to set up and will pay for itself the first time you need to replace a flat tire.
The Torin scissor jack is affordable, well-constructed, and can lift up to one-and-a-half tons with a maximum lift of 15.4 inches. These measurements mean that the Torin is practical for most compact vehicles. It has a large base to raise the vehicle safely and securely.
The portable Torin scissor jack has its limitations; primarily, its lift capacity. Lifting mid-size sedans, pickup trucks, and SUVs is out of the question. Also, this jack’s screw mechanism may become jittery when you’re lowering your vehicle.
If you’re looking for one of the best aluminum floor jacks, considering this Pittsburgh product is a must. Affordable and compact with a lifting capacity of one and a half tons, this is a versatile tool that is convenient to store in a car trunk.
Made out of aircraft-grade aluminum, this floor jack is very sturdy and practical for emergencies. Designed for racing use, the jack weighs only 40 pounds. The dual-parallel-pump system means you can raise a vehicle with approximately three to four pumps.
The Pittsburgh jack’s one-and-a-half-ton lifting capacity effectively limits it from lifting larger cars and SUVs. Also, the rubber cushion slides off easily and can get misplaced. The jack’s maximum limit, at just under 15 inches, is also several inches lower than other similar floor jacks.
Tips & Advice For Car Jacks
- A jack stand serves as a safety net should your floor jack fail. Stands complement car jacks because they can prevent the car from collapsing.
- Hydraulic jacks may often have excessive grease or not enough lubrication. If you hear your jack making noises or notice a leak, you should fix the problem to ensure safety and optimal performance.
- Floor jacks use oil for hydraulics, and it can leak out. Before using your jack for the first time, check to see if it has excess air, which accumulates during packaging and shipping. Make sure you are in an even, flat area to purge, or vent, your jack.
Q: Is a floor jack with a long pump handle better?
A: With a long pump handle, which usually comes with semi-pro jacks with a lift capacity upwards of three tons, you can lift the car without having to crawl underneath it to pump the jack. The trade-off is that the tool is not compact and takes up more room in the garage.
Q: Do I need to constantly check the oil level in the jack?
A: It’s a great idea to inspect your jack for leaks and to level up the oil. Jack fluid is readily available at your local auto parts store, home improvement outlet, or online. Lubricate the hinges on the jack and check for any loose nuts and bolts.
Q: Should I opt for a two- or three-ton floor jack?
A: Your choice will be determined by the type of vehicle you plan on lifting, so look at the vehicle’s weight. It’s best to opt for a three-ton capacity jack if you require the best floor jack for a truck. A great garage jack would have a higher lift capacity and lifting height.
Q: Where do I find the correct minimum height for the floor jack?
A: Since your jack is going to go under your vehicle, if you have a low-profile or low-sitting car, you’ll want to make sure it’ll fit. This is where your car’s ride height or ground clearance, comes into play. Measure the distance between the ground and the car’s base to ensure your jack will fit.
Our top pick for the best car jack is the Powerbuilt 640912 All-In-One 3-Ton Bottle Jack with Jack Stand. This bottle jack is portable thanks to its lightweight construction and offers added value and convenience with its built-in jack stand.
If you’re looking for a bargain on a popular, portable car jack, consider the Torin Big Red Scissor Jack.