Jack Recommendations

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    Michael Martin


    Anyone have recommendations on a good, reliable, not-incredibly-expensive car jack? I’m tired of using the service jack and I think it’s about time I got something proper.


    – Michael

    Jeff Roberts


    They have other models too. I’m on my second one… I killed the first one lifting a pickup truck – not the jack’s fault.

    Rob Powers

    Good choice to get away from using the emergency jack.. that thing is not the most stable jack and really only suited for situations when you have no other option.

    I have the OTC model 1532 2 ton aluminum race jack (the harbor freight knockoff is this one: http://www.harborfreight.com/aluminum-racing-floor-jack-with-rapid-pump-2-tons-68051.html , which is basically just the 2 ton version of the one Jeff posted). I like it, except for one thing: if you’re trying to get the car high, it really doesn’t have a high lift. If you’re just changing wheels at autocross, any of these “racing jacks” will do the trick. Lifting from the side is easy for wheel changes.

    For the garage work I was doing, I decided I wanted a higher lift jack so I could really get the car lifted higher up onto jack stands for easier access to the transmission and whatnot. I found that jacking at the crossmember using the racing jack really didn’t get the car high enough for my liking. I ended up buying this:
    It lifts almost 24″ and it is pretty low profile. The down side is that it’s big and heavy and not portable (> 100 lb, and like 2 feet long at the base). It’s nice and solid though.

    If you’re lifting the car onto 4 jack stands, you should be able to get any of these jacks under the front of the car to jack it at the front crossmember *if* you drive up on a 2×10 board first with one or both of your front wheels (depending on your particular suspension setup). Jacking at the rear subframe crossmember on the e36 is easy even with the front of the car on stands.

    Speaking of… if you intend to ever go under the car, be sure to get some strong jack stands.. the jack is for raising the car, not holding it, and you don’t want to experience a failure when you are under things. 3 ton are a good size and provide plenty of strength. I decided personally *not* to go with HF for my jack stands because I just don’t have that much trust in their quality with my body underneath a 3000 pound car. I decided to spend the extra $$$ and bought the (kick-ass) Esco ones a few years ago. Others obviously use the HF ones every day, but that was a personal decision.

    Michael Martin

    Thanks Jeff and Rob. I’ll go with the cheapo HF 1.5-ton jack. It’ll be good for getting the wheels off and/or camber adjusted. If I find myself needing to get the car higher off the ground I’ll look into the 24″ jack.

    I already have some good stands. Definitely did NOT want to compromise there. I put the car on the stands and basically body check it to make sure it’s probably not gonna fall off while I’m under there.

    Thanks again guys!

    John Kim

    I have two HF jacks, the 1.5 ton mini aluminum racing jack Jeff has (often available for $60+tax with a coupon), I take the small one to AutoX or track days and leave the big one at home.

    The one jack I bought, returned (unopened) and wish I’d kept was the Arcan 2-ton or 3-ton low-profile steel floor jack that Costco was selling several months ago. Was either $100 or $130, long, low-profile, and implicit ability to return to Costco anytime for a refund if something goes wrong. They don’t have it any more, but they are selling a different Arcan aluminum jack in the warehouses now. It’s $99, lifts more weight and higher than the HF 1.5-ton aluminum racing jack, and weighs around 50 lbs. But the minimum height is 4″, so if your car is lowered, or if a tire is flat, you might not be able to get it under the side jack pads.

    I wasn’t sure that jack would fit under my (lowered) jack pads, so I just got the 3-ton HF floor jack for $89 (minus 20% coupon, but +tax), which goes as low as 3″ and as high as 18 or 19″. It weighs 72 lbs. Doesn’t go as low or as high as the bigger HF one with the foot pedal, but weighs less (that other weighs 93 lbs) and should be enough for me.

    Edit: Here’s link to the [url=http://www.harborfreight.com/automotive-motorcycle/floor-jacks/3-ton-heavy-duty-floor-jack-with-rapid-pump-61253.html]3-ton HF floor jack [/url]I bought. But for me it’s too big and too heavy to take to events.

    Michael Martin

    Thanks LNC. I ended up buying the [url=http://www.harborfreight.com/compact-aluminum-racing-floor-jack-with-rapid-pump-15-tons-69252.html]compact 1.5-ton jack[/url] for $70 (after coupon). As long as it fits under my lowered car it should be good enough for changing wheels/camber.

    The first time I have to crawl under my car I imagine I’ll convince myself that I need a bigger one, in which case it looks like I’ll have to choose between the [url=http://www.harborfreight.com/3-ton-heavy-duty-floor-jack-with-rapid-pump-61253.html]medium sized 3-ton[/url] and the [url=http://www.harborfreight.com/2-ton-low-profile-heavy-duty-floor-jack-rapid-pump-68050-8048.html]longer 2-ton[/url] jacks.

    John Kim

    Yes I have that compact one too an take it to events. On my 3rd one… 1st one developed a piston return problem, replaced under extended warranty. 2nd one failed due to user error (I didn’t block wheels or apply e-brake on slope, so car rolled off the jack and bent it). 3rd one has been going strong for 18 months and many events. I used it to raise the car onto jack stands several times, but if you want to make the car high to work on the shifter, driveshaft, etc. (and not just drain the oil), it takes some work moving the jack back and forth from front to rear and using wooden block to lift it an extra 1.5″ higher.

    My original Kragen/O’reilly “Xceed” 3-ton floor jack still works but its minimum saddle height is about 5″ so I have to put car on 2×4 blocks (sometimes using the small HF aluminum jack) to get that Xceed jack under the car, and it doesn’t lower the car smoothly so it’s going to scrap metal recycling now that I have the HF 3-ton floor jack.

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