What's the Difference Between Old and New Jack Stand Designs?
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It’s important to have the car insurance and tools necessary to back up your vehicle when it needs repair. If you’ve got a good jack stand handy, you might even be able to avoid going to a repair shop. It’s simple enough to use a jack, but you still have to pick the one that’s most capable for the job.
If it’s been a long time since you last purchased a jack stand, you might be using the old tubular design. Nowadays, ratcheting jack stands are the new standard. Hagerty helps us understand the difference between the two stands, but is one better than the other?
What are the two types of jack stands?
A recent recall on Harbor Freight jack stands has caused worry among ratcheting jack stand users | Twenty20
The stamped metal-pinned tubular jack stand looks slightly primitive now, but it can still do a good job. The bottom tube splays outward into three legs with metal bands on the bottoms of the feet to steady them. This jack can be locked with a metal pin and comes with a height-adjustable cradle to hold up the car.
These jacks were popular because they were so cheap, but there are some glaring safety concerns. The pins on this stand become strained because they have to simultaneously lift the car, adjust the height, and lock in place.
It’s also difficult to align the holes with the outer tubes, and the stamped metal is too thin. Because they’re so lightweight, you can damage or even break the jack if you run over it with your car.
While it’s not expensive to replace, it doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence for people working under the car. You might have to deal with bodily injury claims in addition to a broken jack.
In contrast, the newer ratcheting jack stands are made with a stronger metal plate. It also saves time on the repair because it can deploy itself faster. A toothed post replaces the twin stamped-metal tubes, and the ratchet works like a circular wrench. These jack stands have pawls, curved bars that can slide or pivot on one side.
The Harbor Freight recall
Confidence in ratcheting jack stands wavered after a Harbor Freight recall in May 2020. 1.7 million three-ton and six-ton stands reportedly had a possible defect that caused them to slip under heavy loads. Harbor Freight said the defect was caused by outdated tooling from one of the stand’s manufacturing companies.
Several people noticed that the pawl on the recalled jack stands doesn’t fit properly under the teeth, causing it to waver. Even after the issue was supposedly fixed, more jack stands had to be recalled for cracked seam weldings.
This caused an increased demand for the old tubular jack stands, since many of them now have screw-on bases. That meant that it couldn’t have any cracked seam weldings, giving former Harbor Freight buyers some peace of mind.
Are newer jack stands unsafe?
Despite the unfortunate construction of some Harbor Freight jack stands, ratcheting jack stands don’t necessarily deserve a bad rep. Since that recall, most of these jack stands are now equipped with a double-locking feature. It holds the jack stand in place as you work with a new lockable safety pin.
While a tubular jack stand isn’t necessarily dangerous, it’s still not as safe as a double-locking ratcheting stand. You can never be too careful when you’re working under an object that weighs several tons. However, it’s even more important to follow the right safety practices when using jack stands.
Use multiple jacks, don’t overload them, and always place them on level ground while working. Jack stands are great tools for fixing cars, but only if used safely. If you don’t feel comfortable working with jacks, Jerry can help you find the best car insurance to help cover repairs.