The Best Floor Jacks for Lifting Your Car
Great options for lifting your car safely
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BY Johnny Puckett / LAST UPDATED ON May 11, 2020
If you’re going to get into DIY car maintenance, a floor jack tops the list of tools you can’t do without. You don’t have to overpay for a quality floor jack you can rely on. Our favorites prove it. Check them out in the buying guide below.
Professional floor jack with a 3.5-ton lifting capacity, designed to quickly contact the vehicle surface for a fast, low-effort lift. Also includes a swivel pad for easier positioning.
The Blackhawk has tons of features that make it easy and comfortable for the user. It’s heavy enough to comfortably hold a camper van but doesn’t skimp on safety precautions.
The 5.5-inch saddle height makes it unsuitable for lowered vehicles. The release handle is sometimes sticky.
Extremely affordable floor jack, able to lift 2 tons. The Pro-Lift is flexible and maneuverable, with a lifting range from 3.5 to 14 inches, and a convenient swivel saddle.
Other than the amazing price, we were impressed by how easy the Pro-Lift is to use right out of the box, and how high it’s able to lift smaller cars.
With its low lift capacity and restrictive maximum range, this floor jack isn’t a good choice for trucks or heavy off-road vehicles.
With its 3-ton lifting capacity, extended saddle, and 21-inch maximum height, the Big Red T83006 is our favorite floor jack for SUVs, trucks, and larger vehicles.
The extended saddle shifts the lifting range upwards about 4 inches, making it easy to get heavy vehicles high above the floor. Construction is professional-grade and includes a convenient handle holder.
The 6-inch minimum height makes it a poor choice for smaller vehicles. It also arrives without any hydraulic oil, requiring you to fill it yourself at an extra cost.
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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.
Best Floor Jacks Reviews & Recommendations
Best Floor Jacks Buying Guide & FAQs
Floor jacks could be called the chainsaws of the automotive world. They’re responsible for a lot of injuries when they fail to work right, which in turn leads a lot of amateurs to be jumpy about buying them.
First, let’s clear the air: If you’re using a well-constructed floor jack, there’s no reason at all to be frightened. Jacks work on the principle of mechanical advantage, where a series of parts arranged in order can lift far more weight than any one of them alone. It’s not magic preventing you from getting hurt—just the laws of physics.
That said, it’s still incredibly important to get a floor jack you can rely on. This can be tricky, given the enormous selection of floor jacks on the market, so we put together this buyers’ guide to help you separate the signal from the noise.
Do You Need a Floor Jack?
Your first step is to determine if a floor jack is the best tool to solve your problem. You don’t need it for everything—buffing and bodywork, for example, don’t require you to lift your vehicle. You also might prefer a bottle jack, which has a much narrower saddle but a far higher lifting capacity, or drive-up ramps, which are easier to use.
Yet a floor jack, in conjunction with jack stands, can be the ideal solution for getting your car into a stable position for a huge variety of jobs. Here are some of the benefits one can offer you:
- Stability. A floor jack and jack stands lift up a vehicle at several points and keep it firmly in place. This gives you more points of redundancy if something fails.
- Ease of use. No jack is going to be perfectly usable by everyone, but floor jacks multiply force through a clean, user-friendly design. They make it simple to lift heavy weights, and are easy to keep in your car for emergencies.
- Reliability. Anything you use to lift your car will take a lot of punishment. Compared to bottle jacks or drive-up ramps, well-constructed floor jacks are much more likely to last through years of jobs.
Types of Floor Jacks
Material is the biggest distinction between the various types of floor jacks you’ll find on the market. Steel, aluminum, and hybrid constructions each offer distinct advantages. Height and tonnage capacity are the other most important variables—we’ll cover those in the following section, “What to Consider When Buying a Floor Jack.”
Steel is the heaviest material typically used to build a floor jack. It makes for solid, sturdy jacks that are hard to move outside of one garage.
Steel is cheaper than aluminum, so full-steel jacks are usually the cheapest on the market. They’re also durable—you won’t have to replace a steel jack often, which saves you even more money. However, their weight makes them a poor choice for tire changes while on the road.
You’ll most often find steel jacks at dealerships and professional garages, and in the homes of amateur car lovers who do a lot of DIY work. If you don’t need your jack to be portable, steel is the best choice.
Aluminum is both less durable and more expensive than steel. Aluminum jacks might last a while if rarely used, but under repeated stress, don’t expect one to make it more than six months before you have to replace it.
Given this, you might wonder why anybody would opt for aluminum over steel. The answer is: It’s all about portability. At about half the weight of steel floor jacks on average, aluminum jacks can be loaded into an average car’s trunk and taken on the road without killing your gas mileage.
If you want to be able to carry your jack around, and you don’t plan to use it more than a few times per year, aluminum is the way to go.
Hybrid jacks are made of both steel and aluminum. Most often, manufacturers will use steel for the key parts of the jack that support the vehicle’s weight, while everything else will be made of aluminum to keep the jack light.
Hybrid floor jacks aim for a balance between weight, durability, and price, and generally are found in the middle of all those metrics. However, they run the risk of being jacks of all trades (sorry, we couldn’t resist) and masters of none. If your jack is going to live in your garage, steel is still the best choice, while aluminum remains better if you only need something for your family vehicle.
You’re most likely to prefer a hybrid floor jack if you need to use a portable jack in a professional context—e.g., if you work at a racetrack, or you’re a mechanic who makes house calls.
What to Consider When Buying a Floor Jack
Once you’ve decided what kind of construction you want for your floor jack, there are several other specs to consider. Your jack needs to be low enough to fit under your vehicle, while tall enough to give you enough clearance to work. It also needs to be able to hold the weight of your vehicle. Read on for more details.
How much weight can your jack of choice safely hold? Assuming you know that you should never, under any circumstances, for any length of time, use a jack to lift more weight than it’s rated for (and you know that now if you didn’t before), you’ll want one rated for what your vehicle weighs.
If you don’t know the weight of your vehicle, start by Googling the make, model, and year to find out. Then check the capacity of any floor jack you’re thinking of purchasing. Keep in mind that lifting different parts of the vehicle will put more or less strain on your jack—most cars and trucks are heaviest at the engine.
One other note: If you use a jack to lift more than it’s rated for, many simply won’t engage the hydraulics. If your floor jack repeatedly fails to engage, this could be why.
A floor jack has both a minimum and a maximum height. Many come with extenders that can raise both heights for bigger trucks and vans.
The minimum height is the shortest the jack can possibly be. If your vehicle is lower to the ground than a jack’s minimum, it won’t fit underneath, making it useless. Make sure to measure your car’s clearance before buying a jack.
The maximum height is the highest the jack can lift your car. How much height you’ll need depends on the job, but we’ve found that 20 inches is enough to get almost anything done. The most common exception is trying to change off-road tires, so if you’re into all-terrain Jeeps or SUVs, get a taller jack.
Saddle size, or platform size, refers to how much surface area on the jack is in direct contact with the vehicle. A bigger platform equals a more stable raised position.
A bigger platform doesn’t always equal a better jack, though. In general, it’s safer, but it also might not fit onto certain parts of your chassis well enough to grip. That’s why some mechanics use bottle jacks.
Our rule of thumb: The higher you’re planning to lift the vehicle, the more surface area you need on your jack’s saddle. Stability gets even more critical above 16 inches or so.
Best Floor Jacks FAQs
Floor jacks are a deceptively simple tool that requires a lot of thought and practice to use correctly. As long as you follow our guidelines, get one with the right weight and height capacity, always use it in conjunction with jack stands and wheel chocks, and you can’t go wrong. In this section, we’ll clear up some of the most common questions you might still have.
Q. How do I use a floor jack?
Park your vehicle on a flat, solid surface. Chock the wheels opposite your chosen lift point. Install the jack handle and use it to place the jack under the lift point. Pump the handle until the saddle is touching your vehicle’s chassis, then continue pumping until it’s high enough for you to work. Finally, position your jack stands, then slowly lower the floor jack until it can be removed.
Q. How do I choose the best floor jack?
Find one that can hold your vehicle’s weight and is short enough to fit underneath your chassis. Make sure the maximum height is high enough for your jobs.
Q. When should I use a floor jack?
Use a floor jack whenever you need to work on the underside of the vehicle. The most common instances of this are oil changes, tire changes, and transmission maintenance.
Our Top Pick
The Blackhawk B6350 Black/Red Fast Lift Service Jack easily came out on top of our tests. It’s a professional-grade steel floor jack ideal for continuous heavy use, and it’s easy to use for both pros and amateurs. It also goes for a surprisingly great price. As long as you don’t need your jack to be portable, you can’t go wrong with the Blackhawk B6350.
If you’re looking for a floor jack and you don’t have time for intense comparison shopping, get the Blackhawk B6350 Black/Red Fast Lift Service Jack for overall quality, or the Pro-Lift F-767 Low Profile Floor Jack for a great value.