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Any would-be at-home mechanic knows that doing your own routine vehicle maintenance is easier said than done. You need specialized tools and equipment since a typical screwdriver and hammer just won’t cut it (if you’re doing things right). More than that, you need some way to lift a multi-thousand-ton vehicle up without making a true car lift the centerpiece of your garage.
Unless you are an individual who doesn’t mind putting one’s life into the delicate balance of a car jack and some jack stands when it comes time for an oil change, the go-to solution is a pair of car or race ramps. While most of the best car ramps are heavy and heavy-duty (like solid-steel auto ramp sets), RhinoGear’s popular RhinoRamp series promises to deliver on the heavy-duty part without the typical weight.
In this review, I put the RhinoRamps through real-world tests to see just how much RhinoGear delivers. It turns out, quite a lot, save in one important area: non-skid traction.
These ramps are definitely heavy duty in construction, as long as you can get them to stay in place. We tested the durability of the ramps, and they (mostly) survived the abuse save for one incident with driving off of the edge.
- High gross vehicle weight capacity between 12,000 and 16,000 pounds.
- Lightweight feel.
- Heavy-duty construction that can actually handle heavy vehicles.
- Little-to-nonexistent traction.
- Ramp angle isn't suitable for low profile vehicles.
- Difficult to use as trailer ramps.
The RhinoRamps aren’t going to win any awards in the design innovation department since they look pretty much as you’d expect: like ramps. One part slopes up, and the top is flat, so, in theory, you can simply drive your car up to increase the ground clearance—cutting edge stuff.
In truth, it’s a good thing the RhinoRamps stick to the basic, conventional design. Some vehicle ramps take a needlessly-complicate-this-mofo approach in design, offering modular, multi-sectional ramps that require an actual instruction manual to cover anything from low-clearance vehicles like sports cars and low-profile cars to vehicles with a higher ground clearance that doesn't really need an automotive ramp.
The lesson to auto ramp manufacturers: If you make something that a simple block of wood can do, you don’t need to deviate from the simplicity.
The RhinoRamps use a “patented polymer internal support system” to provide some rigidity and weight support. In truth, this fancy marketing fluff simply means the inside is divided up into different sections instead of having a solid core. The plastic resin feels strong and high-quality, although I’m not sure if it offers a “strong as steel” feel that the product description touts.
In some ways, these car service ramps are a bit paradoxical on paper. The plastic resin construction would suggest this pair isn’t for use with heavy vehicles, but the ramps have a 12,000-to-16,000-pound weight capacity (it varies between different product descriptions). As a result, the ramps should have no issues handling the weight of an SUV or normal pickup truck.
The tread pattern texture is unique. Similar to the bottom side of each ramp, the top has small lines that section off the surface instead of typical rungs or traction holes. There’s also a diamond traction pattern meant to help with grip as the vehicle drives up. At the top edge, the plastic rises so you can theoretically feel the edge before driving off of the ramp. Unfortunately, the side edges lack the same kind of boundary to let you know if you’re driving off because of the tire width or if the ramp slips. Spoiler alert: This will become important later in this review.
Finally, while there are a lot of things to like about the ramp design, one trade-off RhinoGear makes is storability. Yes, they aren’t the largest ramps out there, and they do stack up, but the word “stack” is generous here. Given the thick plastic construction, the ramps don’t slide into each other as much as lighter options. So, be prepared to make some room in the garage if you really consider these ramps.
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There is a lot to like with this pair of ramps when it comes to getting your vehicle up quickly and safely. Having a Ford F150, I had the perfect testbed to examine the weight capacity and dimensions of the ramp. Pickup trucks are unique since, with more ground clearance, you can get to the undercarriage without too much trouble. At the same time, they can benefit from an extra boost in height if you want to work without feeling the multiton mass of the vehicle looming over your fragile face.
Getting the ramps set up and in position is the main highlight of these ramps. The plastic resin is lightweight, much more so than traditional steel ramps. While the ramps are large, the extra bulk is easy to handle and maneuver without giving yourself a heart attack. The width of the ramps also makes it easier to get them lined up with the tires without worrying about the vehicle being off-center, or so I thought. In truth, the width does invite a sense of confident use, but as I discovered when rolling my truck onto the ramps, things aren’t what they seem.
In short, I broke the damn things. Driving up the ramps started out easy enough. The 17-degree incline means you don’t have to floor the vehicle to get it going, but things quickly change if the ramps start to slip. RhinoGear boasts about their anti-slip technology, but in truth, these things moved around a lot as my truck gently rolled up because they barely have anything resembling a non-skid base.
By the time I had reached the top, the left ramp had shifted so the wheel was sitting on the outer edge. At this point, inconvenient physics kicked in (i.e. gravity), and I became “that guy” who broke his new toys.
To RhinoGear’s credit, the plastic resin did an excellent job preventing a potential catastrophe. Whereas metal ramps would bend or twist, the RhinoRamps held their shape. Massive crack aside, I was able to drive my truck off without destroying it, myself, or my surroundings.
Suffice it to say, the results are mixed. There is a lot to like with these ramps. The combination of a large, heavy-duty ramp design mixed with a lightweight feel is unique. The fact that the ramps don’t disintegrate at the first sign of trouble could potentially be lifesaving. But there is room for improvement.
Despite the manufacturer’s advertising, there is little traction on the underside of each ramp. In fact, the surface area of “non-slip technology” is minimal. If you don’t want to be the person all the gear heads in the neighborhood point to and laugh at when the ramps snap, you’ll need some extra bracing: anti-slip mats, some wood between the ramps and a wall, wheel chocks, etc.
Final verdict: A top pick in many mechanic's books, buy these ramps if you want something heavy-duty but lightweight and can immobilize them properly.
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