At some point in our life, we have to play the mechanic. Because if you are to calculate the total cost of owning a car — gas, maintenance, and car miscellaneous to name a few — providing your own labor for simple car repairs such as changing tires is the cost-effective option in relation to car-related expenses.
Just think of the money you can save if you are to do your own tire change. All it takes is the basic know-how and the right tools. Lifting a car is one thing. To remove a wheel the vehicle needs to be lifted off the ground. Sure you can get away with bricks, hydraulics or using the tire changing tools that came with your vehicle-maintenance package, but it’s easier and far SAFER to have the proper lifting equipment such as the jack stand.
Jack stands are one of the must-have garage tools for changing not only tires but also oil change, installing mufflers, inspecting exhaust pipes and other DIY repair jobs. Learn your options for the best jack stands here and everything you need to know about safety measure in using one.
- What is a jack stand?
- A Review of the Best Jack Stands in the Market
- How to Choose the Best Jack Stands
- Lifting Basics and Safety Measures
- Our Overall Pick
What is a jack stand?
A jack stand is a staple car kit used to conveniently jack up your vehicle off the floor, support its weight and above all, critical for a safe access in tire repair or underside for the rim. It comes in a triangular shape similar to that of a tower or a tripod and is mostly sold in pairs to elevate both sides of the car. It can accommodate different types of vehicles such as van, SUV, and trucks.
The material is generally made of either a steel, cast iron or aluminum. The height can either be fixed or adjustable, varying from 13 to 25 inches. It is also expressed in terms of weight in tons, available to hold any weight from one ton down to 50 tons.
A Review of the Best Jack Stands in the Market
Now that you are familiar with the buying pointers and safety precautions, it’s time to choose jack stands. The best jack stands will not only keep you away from fatal injuries but will also help you do your repairs easily and quickly. Following are top 5 jack stands you can choose from.
This is one of the best selling jack stands in the market, so much so that it has found on numerous imitators. But the true ‘ big red jack stands’ (as what its users commonly refer to the iconic jack stand) is made from high-grade quality steel and has a unique locking mechanism that is hard to copy.
The self-locking ratchet features a dual locking pawl you can multi-position and adjust precisely with a solid handle that allows raising up and down easily. Its backed up by a second pin to ensure stability and give you peace of mind that your stand is not going anywhere while you are working.
Additional safety factors include the welded frame design that adds up to its durability and a wide base saddle area that allows a safety rest. This wide footprint also gives you the confidence to use the stand on rough contacts, be it on hard packed sand or soft asphalt.
Sold in pairs, you can purchase Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands in different tons and height that will help you get by in most situations. All of which have a passable rubber coating and finish. One review may claim the welds being a bit dirty although they have not shown a propensity to outright fail so there is really nothing to be bothered about.
Torin’s Big Red Jack Stands might not be the cheapest in terms of price, but the price to quality ratio is outstanding considering you are buying from a manufacturer well-known and respected by the automotive community and a product that has passed the ASME safety standards in particular.
- Adjustable self-locking ratchet for safety and ease of use
- Fairly wide base and welded frame ensures sturdy support
- Made of high-grade forged steel
- Best value; backed up 1-year warranty
- Approved by ASME Safety Standards
- Rusts easily develop on hinges
- Dirty welds
Now, this next jack stand will probably make you wonder if it’s a jack stand or a bottle jack. Well for the record, Powerbuilt 640912 is a hydraulic bottle jack and a jack stand all-in-one. Where other products only provide you with a sturdy lift, this one can actually lift the vehicle up, with the weighing capacity rated as 3 tons.
It’s ideal for serious serious work like holding or lifting heavy weights, framing and floor joist work but with its robust and durable support, we can’t see any reason for not using it in on home workshops and perhaps road-side tire changing.
Another area where it excels is its low profile clearance. The unijack is tied for having the lowest clearance of 11 inches and will lift vehicles as low as 8-5/8 inches, which make it handy for whatever car repair you intended on SUVs, sedan and racing cars. However, the height can extend for up to 18-⅝ inches, adding another point to its versatility!
The safety features also don’t disappoint. Its hydraulic features alone allow accurate and stable precisions. Then there’s also a lock system that offers a safety bar lock and a wide flat base that doesn’t sink on softer surfaces. In fact, this product is one of the Powerbuilt tools that meet the standards by U.S. Government and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This means that at any rate, you can rely on Powerbuilt 640912 for any residential or commercial use you intend to.
- Combines the benefit of a jack stand and a hydraulic bottle jack
- Adjustable and allows a range of repairs and maintenance jobs.
- The saddle can be changed conveniently
- Stable base, ANSI certified; Won’t retract nor sink on surfaces
- Outstanding low clearance support
- Only sold per piece
- Comes with a handle that is ludicrously short for some
This next jack stand is ideal for those who are in need of a lightweight stand they can carry on-the-go. Camco jack stands have dimensions not larger than its counterparts which means you can throw the tool on your trunk and won’t consume much of the space. In fact, this jack stand has the smallest dimension out of the featured products here. Now, this might bother some, but for true off-roaders out there, Camco 44561 delivers a serious support, at least according to many of its delighted users.
Light yet heavy-duty, Camco 44561 surprisingly has a weight capacity of 3 tons. They come in a pair so you a got a solid 6-ton weight support. While cast aluminum material construction might not be as heavy as steel but is sturdy enough to provide solid support for a range of light vehicles including RVs, campers and even boats and ATVs!
It takes advantage of the use of a screw lock mechanism. This locking system might be noted as not the most convenient, yet it is also the most secure locking system you can rely on to support and suspend your vehicle without the possibility of retraction. An adjusting mechanism also makes the build so you can lift your vehicle with ease with a height lift range of 11 to 17 inches.
What’s more to it is the rubber finish on top to keep vehicle scratches at bay. Also, the coating is corrosion and rust proof, so you can use the tool for a decent period of time. Easy to clean and easy to use. It’s that simple.
- Ideal for light vehicle suspension, free of risks
- Also for low clearance cars
- Travel-Friendly; lightweight, compact and portable
- Features screw lock, the most reliable and secure locking system
- Anti-rust and corrosion finish
- For obvious reasons, this is not intended to use on taller and heavy types of vehicles
A heavy-duty and high-end type, Hein-Werner HW93503 is proudly made in the USA. They will cost a little more but that’s because you are paying for a jack stand that has impressive durability and strength which lessens the risks of vehicle falling. This one can accommodate 3 tons capacity. But that’s just each piece of the stand. As a pair, it will give you 6 tons total of support load — perfect for heavy-duty cars weighing more than 5 tons.
This is also the jack stand intended for high clearance vehicles since it has a whopping 19 inches lift height. For smaller cars, you can adjust the height in a minimum of 12 inches. Adjusting is also made easy, thanks to its saddle column that provides ratchet action height adjustment. And like many of Hein-Werner jack stand models, HW93503 features a great wide platform with a small recess for extra stability and firm positioning.
Despite its rugged heavy-duty steel construction, its not overly burdensome considering it only weighs 19 pounds. Its quality, reliability, and versatility as a jack stand have made its way to professionals in business settings. Automotive mechanics trust Hein-Werner HW93503 not only because of its beefy steel construction but also for its outstanding weight capacity to accommodate both heavy and light vehicles.
- Caters to most type of vehicle types; heavy and light, low and high clearance cars
- Multi-position and easy-to-use ratchet mechanism
- Keep your car stable and firmly positioned
- Good Quality Control; each stand is constructed with meticulous care
- Rated for its quality, trusted by mechanics
- A bit expensive
5. Sunex 1410
Big wheeled and larger vehicles like trucks and crossovers deserve the tallest type of jack stand. And we have found the right jack stand for that. With a maximum height of 46.5 inches, no cramped areas are hard to reach in this high profile jack stand by Sunex. It also got something for midsize and large sedans since the height can be adjusted to a minimum of 28 inches.
Another of its notable feature is its 10-ton lift capacity each stand. We repeat EACH stand. In a pair, this is definitely a monster in its class and one of the few jack stands for heavy duty grade available in the market today!
Unique to other jack stand featured here is a 4 leg steel base made with a high-grade pipe, providing more stability and security. Large saddles with a flat top base are designed with a double ear support to secure a vehicle’s steel frame underneath and to give you confidence that the vehicle lifted is stable enough.
A metal foot pad also makes an appearance to prevent embedding of the stands on rough and uneven surfaces. And once the multiple pin post adjustment locks in, rest assured there’s no vehicle slipping even with the heaviest vehicle. It’s also worth mentioning that all Sunex lifting equipment went under ASME PALD compliance testing, ensuring a high quality performing tool that lasts.
- Stable and very strong support
- Recommended for regular and agricultural trucks and large-off-road vehicles
- Accommodates a high to medium ground clearance
- Easy and quick height adjustment
- In compliance with ASME PALD standards
- Will cost you more
- Not for short vehicles
- Heavy in hand
How to Choose the Best Jack Stands
What makes a jack stand a good buy? To answer the question, all jack stands are good. But nothing is as frustrating as not getting the right jack stand that is suited for your car. Not being able to get the right tool isn’t only inconvenient, but the real issue here is the safety because working under a jacked up car can be dangerous. This is why it is important to evaluate the following factors before purchasing one to get the right jack stand for your safety.
The Type of Your Vehicle
The type of car you are going to work on should be your buying reference ın choosing a jack stand, particularly the weight. A general repair on heavyweight vehicles, for instance, will need a stronger stand for a sturdier support while lighter stands are for light vehicles.
Also, consider your car’s ground clearance. Hi-lift jack stands won’t work on a car that’s very low to the ground. You will need a low-profile jack stand that will easily fit underneath if such is your case. On the other hand, taller vehicles will need the jack stands that will give more height for an easy lift.
This facet refers to the amount of weight your jack stand can support, or simply the weight capacity. As previously stated, weight capacity is expressed in tons. Since most are sold in pairs they are also rated by pair. Take a 3-ton capacity jack stand as an example. Jack stands rated as such means that you have 1.5 tons of jack stands to carry each side of the car, (which equal to 3 tons) unless of course stated otherwise.
A good thumb of rule is to always choose the jack stand with weight rating above the vehicle weight, one that is capable of handling 25 to 50 percent more than your vehicle’s weight for your utmost safety. For example, if your car’s curb weight is 2 tons, choose a jack stand rated 3.5 to 4 tons. This provides you with a margin of error to keep you operating safely from the edge of the jack stands’ weight capacity.
Lift Height and Adjustability
The lift height capability refers to the maximum height the jack stand can extend. This is an extremely important factor to consider when in a hunt for jack stands because you will want to choose a lift height relevant to the vehicle’s desired lift. A low-slung sports car or sedan, for instance, will likely need a different stand than a high truck or SUV.
Being able to safely suspend your vehicle high enough the ground doesn’t only prevent major injuries but also lets you bend and move your arms freely when removing and installing car components and therefore eliminating the chore of wriggling your back. As such, choosing jack stands with adjustable features will give you more convenience. Jack stands with a tripod notched at center column allows the user to adjust and select appropriate height and will give you ample space to work on.
As mentioned, the material used on the stand are sourced out from different metals. Smaller and light duty jack stands are typically made of lightweight aluminum or steel. For heavier use, on the other hand, choose one that is made out of cast iron or steel.
The width of the base is also another thing. The wider the base, the more stable it is and will give you a sturdier foundation while in use. In addition, look for the base with fewer welds. One weld on the base and two or three four on the locking construction should be enough. Base stands that are poorly constructed have a lot of metal pieces welded together.
If your jack stand features adjustability, make sure that it fits into the base neatly without binding or catching. This is the hallmark of a solid frame you can rely on while you’re underneath the vehicle.
The locking mechanism can affect the quality and the overall reliability of jack stand. Therefore, this is one important safety aspect you should pay attention to in choosing jack stands. There are common types of locking mechanics used by standard jack stands which are explained below.
- Pin-Lock: As you might have guessed, this kind of locking mechanics use a pin system to lock the stand securely. Like the overall material construction, the pin is typically a steel or iron. It can either rest on the base or can be slipped between the adjustable bar and the slot in the base using a lever or by hand. The latter is more expensive but will assure a more secure pin-type. The pin lock system may not be the easiest to use but will provide you with a reliable and solid locking system.
- Ratchet Lock: If you are after an easy locking mechanics, the ratchet is your best bet. The ratchet mechanism consists of a gearwheel accompanied by a pivoting spring-loaded pawl that when pushed, will lock the ratchet in a specific position with only minimal free play. It’s worth note-taking, however, that ratchet lock is only best used for light vehicles and is not the safest type of lock for heavy-duty cars and professional lifting.
- Screw: The screw lock system is not the most prevalent locking system. If you have used this kind of mechanics in the past, you probably knew how time-consuming it is to lock the frameworks. However, many users still favor screw locks because it provides a lot of accuracy over the desired height and a more stable locking than the ratchet.
Lifting Basics and Safety Measures
Jacking up car may be an intimidating aspect but really is a simple affair and doesn’t need a trained mechanic to do so. All you need is to be armed with the basic knowledge of car lifting using jack stands. This will make the process easier and lessen the circumstances of fatal injuries related to car lifting.
- Learn your car’s jacking points. This is the factory lift points typically located on the bottom of the unibody edge just along the pinch welds or on the frame rails of the vehicle. Some cars and trucks, however, might list additional mount points. To reduce the risk of guesswork, always refer to your owner’s manual if you are unsure about your vehicle’s lifting points.
- Jack stands should be leveled and position properly, preferably set and locked to an equal height. We cannot emphasize how important this is. Improper positioning can cause the vehicle to slip off and if you are under it, you can probably see the picture of what will happen. The common cause of improper positioning is the inadequate size and weight rating used. The reason we have provided you with an informative buying guide is to get the right jack stand suited for your car. Also, NEVER use extension blocks to extend the reaching point of the stand. Use a jack stand with a taller height instead.
- Follow the ‘one jack stand per wheel’ rule. Since vehicles have four wheels this also means four points of contact or four jack stands to maintain stability. In the case where the corner of the car is decompressed, you should adjust your lifting strategy so that the wheel is firmly planted on the surface.
- DO NOT jack up a corner in one go. Jacking up the front or back end all the way to your desired height will cause the car to lose balance. Do it in stages to prevent the jack stands from sliding. This procedure also applies when you are lowering down your car.
- It is wiser to use jack stand with other lifting tools. Remember that jack stand is just one safety equipment in your car kit. To decrease the likelihood of a falling vehicle, use wheel chocks with your jack stands for structural integrity. Wheel chocks are normally placed in front of and behind the non-drive wheel.
- Before going underneath, gently shake your car to confirm its secure. If there is a movement, check every corner and adjust that stands if necessary. Double-checking all the jack stands this way will give you an assurance that the vehicle is firmly locked on the stands and will not fall off while on use.
- On a regular basis, always inspect jack stands that are in your possession. Over time, jack stands show signs of wear manifest by a deformation on the legs, splitting welds and if you are using the ratchet type, check the teeth for any wear signs. Discard any jack stand that has lost its structural integrity or has been damaged in any way. Using them will only put your safety at risks. There’s also no sense in attempting to repair or re-weld it on your own as it is impossible to restore its integrity.
Our Overall Pick
This jack stand is already an icon of its kind and one of the heavy-hitters in the jack stand market today. Firstly, they are available in different weight rating and lift height so they definitely have something for every car type. It also has everything a reliable jack stand should have; rugged welded steel construction and a wide footprint to give you the confidence that your jack stand is simply strong and stable enough to keep your vehicle lifted without the risk of slipping and frameworks latching. Plus a bonus feature of a self-locking ratchet, so when you lift the platform it locks by itself.
With Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands, you increase your productivity, whether you need a tire change, change oil or replace a transmission. And with its well-rounded safety features, this is the jack stand you can bet your life on! On top of that, it has a great price to quality ratio and is backed up by a manufacturer’s warranty, we can’t see why you can go wrong in giving this jack stand a try!