Whether you are a layman who enjoys working on cars yourself, or you are a professional mechanic, there is one tool that you are definitely going to want to have in your arsenal; a floor jack. Floor jacks provide excellent vertical lift, making it easier to lift vehicles up off of the ground so that you can work underneath them. From changing tires to changing the oil, a floor jack can make it easier to do a tremendous amount of jobs on you vehicles.
When it comes to shopping for floor jacks, you are going to find that there are several options to choose from, which can make finding the best floor jack for your specific needs a bit challenging. To help you go through all of the available options without having to run the risk of purchasing a lower quality tool, we have put together this useful buyer’s guide for you. It’s full of valuable information that pertains to buying a floor jack, which will make the task of finding the best floor jack for you particular needs a lot easier.
Types of Floor Jacks
Floor jacks can be differentiated by the material they are made from and the amount of weight that they can hold. The main types of floor jacks include:
- Aluminum floor jacks
- Steel floor jacks
- 2 ton floor jacks
- 3 ton floor jacks
- 4 ton floor jacks
Aluminum Floor Jacks
Aluminum floor jacks are both durable and lightweight, which makes them the most portable of all floor jacks. If you intend on using a floor jack to maintain your car at home, this type of floor jack is well suited for you, as they are easy to use and transport.
Steel Floor Jacks
Steel floor jacks are more durable than aluminum floor jacks; however, they are also heavier, which means that they are more difficult to transport. If you have a dedicated space to store your floor jack that is located within close proximity to where you intend on doing your car repairs and maintenance, a steel floor jack may be a good option for you.
2 Ton Floor Jack
A 2 ton floor jack can safely lift vehicles that weigh up to 2 tons. Of the ton floor jacks, the 2 tons is the most portable. They can lift a standard family sedan with ease.
3 Ton Floor Jack
If you intend on working on heavier vehicles, such as a 4 x 4, a 3 ton floor jack is a good pick for you. These floor jacks can safely lift up to 3 tons, such as Jeep Wrangler.
4 Ton Floor Jack
The 4 ton floor jack is designed to lift the heaviest of vehicles. They also provide the most height. This type of floor jack is best suited for a mechanic shop or a space that has plenty of room, as they are very large and heavy.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Floor Jack
There are a few things that you are going to want to keep in mind when you are shopping for a floor jack. First and foremost, you want to ensure safety. You also want to make sure that the jack will be able to get the job done and will be easy to use. By considering the following factors, you can be sure that you will purchase the right floor jack for your specific needs.
The lift capacity of the floor jack is the most important factor that you are going to want to consider. Lift capacity refers to how much weight the floor jack can safely lift. If the jack cannot safely lift the weight you need, you could end up in seriously dangerous situation. When considering the lift capacity, make sure the maximum capacity will support a weight that exceeds your needs; it’s far better to err on the side of caution and have more lift capacity than less. As a general rule of thumb, a 2 ton floor jack can typically support small to medium-sized cars (compacts, sports coupes and economy mid-sized cars) and a 3 ton floor jack can usually accommodate full size cars, as well as trucks, vans and SUVs. Larger vehicles will require the lift capacity of a 4 ton jack. If you aren’t sure what weight capacity you need, we suggest choosing a 3 ton floor jack to ensure your safety.
You should also consider the material of the floor jack. As mentioned above, floor jacks are constructed out of either steel or aluminum. Steel is very durable and less expensive than aluminum; however, it’s much heavier, which makes it less portable. Aluminum is just as durable as steel, but it is much lighter, which makes it much easier to move; the downside is that aluminum costs much more than steel.
Minimum Clearance Height
At one time, all floor jacks came in a standard profile; however, today, there are so many cars that have low clearance, which gave rise to the need to produce low profile floor jacks. When choosing your floor jack, you want to make sure that it will fit under your vehicle. The majority of floor jacks have a minimum clearance height of 3 to 5 inches. Lower profile floor jacks are on the lower end of that range.
Maximum Lift Height
The maximum lift height refers to how high off the ground the lifting arm of the floor jack will lift the vehicle at its highest point. A high quality floor jack will have a maximum lift height between 18 and 20 inches.
The lifting speed of a floor jack is determined by how many pumps of the handle are needed to reach the maximum lifting height. The faster the lift speed, the less effort you have to exert to lift your vehicle, and the quicker you can work on it. Most floor jacks require a range of 10 to 18 strokes to achieve maximum lift height.
You should also consider how you intend on using the floor jack. The following information presents some common uses and floor jack recommendations for those uses:
- A Car – A 2 or 3 ton model floor jack
- A Truck or SUV – A 3 ton floor jack
- An RV, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel – A 4 ton floor jack
Of course, you should also consider the price of the floor jack. Most floor jacks cost between $150 and $250. A less expensive model will likely get the job done, which can make these models tempting; however, they usually don’t last as long as more expensive floor jacks and they tend to have a much higher failure rate. For your safety, it simply isn’t worth the risk.
Floor Jack Features
Floor jacks can also be outfitted with different features. These features are intended to make your floor jack easier to use; however, do note that the more features the floor jack offers, the more expensive it will be, so it is important to understand these features and what they do so that you can determine whether or not you need them.
A floor jack that is outfitted with an air assist feature will allow you to use your jack with an air cylinder, which will make lifting easier, as the air will do the heavy lifting for you.
Most floor jacks will feature wheels. The wheels are positioned underneath the jack, making it easier to transport the tool.
Padded Pump Handles
A padded pump handle will make operating the pump more comfortable for your hands, as the pad will shield your hands from the metal on the handle, preventing friction and the potential to develop blisters.
Skid plates prevent the jack from skidding out when it is in use, thus improving your safety while operating the tool and lifting your vehicles.
Some floor jacks feature a lifting pedal instead of a handle. To lift the jack, you push on the pedal with your foot, which makes operating the jack easier and more comfortable.
Top Floor Jack Brands
There are dozens of manufacturers that produces floor jacks, which can make choosing the best one for your needs a challenge. To help you sift through the many brands, we have conducted extensive research, tested several jacks and compared the results. After our in-depth assessment, we have determined that the following floor jacks are the best of the best.
Blackhawk produces several high quality floor jacks that have all received exceptional reviews. We liked that they offered a wide range of options and features, which made their jacks very convenient to use.
Pro Lift is another top manufacturer of floor jacks. They produce a wide range of floor jacks that are designed to meet a variety of needs. Pro Lift floor jacks are extremely easy to use and are exceptionally safe.
Arcan produces a wide range of floor jacks that boast some of the most cutting edge designs and safety features. We liked that several of their models offered dual pump pistons, which provided greater strength and increased stability.