However, many people don't follow the basic safety requirements for lifting their cars using stands. Here are four jack stand safety rules you should never break based on advice from
Leave the floor jack as backup after setting the car on jack stands
After you use the floor jack to lift up your car and put it on jack stands, you should leave the floor jack there. This is called "double-jacking". It doesn’t take any extra work but it’ll give you more protection if the stands fail.
The floor jack may get in the way, but you can just work on the car issue from another angle. It’s well worth the extra protection against your car falling and seriously injuring yourself. Even a brand new car jack could fail unexpectedly.
Harbor Freight recalled several 1.7 million of their jack stands last year, due to their stands slipping under a load. This led to a revival of older jack stand designs, and manufacturers focusing more on jack stand safety.
Your jack stands should be in good, clean condition from a reliable manufacturer. You should use four jack stands if you plan to lift the entire car.
Work on a level concrete surface
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Never place your jacks on an incline, as there's always the chance of the car rolling off the stands. Sometimes even a parking lot can be slanted, but you can't always determine that from the angle where the car is parked. Your jacks should be placed on a level surface, preferably a clean garage floor.
You should never work on asphalt or grassy ground, especially on hot days. The sun's heat can make these surfaces too soft, causing the jacks to sink. If the situation is unavoidable, put some flat pieces of metal plates under the floor jack and stands.
Many car manuals also have recommended jack points guiding you on where to place the jacks. Refer to these manuals if possible, or try to find them online. It makes the job easier and safer.
Check that the jack stands are secure
You always need to double-check your jack stands before working on your vehicle. The car part resting on the jack should always be flat and touch the middle of the cradle at the top of the stand. All of your jack stands should ideally be at equal height, and all four legs of the base of the jack stands should sit safely on the ground.
If any stand wiggles, you'll need to readjust it and check them all again to make sure they’re secure. If you can give your car a light shake and the jacks don't move, it's safe to start working.
Never overload your jack stands
Always refer to the load rating instructions of your jacks to ensure they can hold the weight above them. A pair of jack stands are typically able to keep 200% of their rated load lifted for ten minutes without any deformation. Floor jacks can hold 150% of their rating.
You should also never shake the car more than necessary once you're actually under it. This can move the part of the car inside the cradle to the edge, and cause it to slip out. That's another reason why it's so important to use multiple jack stands.
By following these safety requirements, your jack stands will be much less likely to fail. If you still don't feel comfortable using them, it might be better to get your car fixed by a professional mechanic.
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