Jack Stand Buyer's Guide
- While car jacks, also known as floor jacks, are devices meant to lift heavy equipment or vehicles, jack stands are made to keep the lifted vehicle raised.
- Jack stands have rigid arms and secure locking mechanisms. With stable bases, these equipment can keep vehicles lifted and steady as a person works underneath.
- The basic parts of a jack stand are a base, a pole, and a locking mechanism.
- Car jack stands are mainly classified by their locking systems. The main types of jack stands are pin lock, ratchet lock, and screw lock. These could be made of either steel or aluminum.
- In getting a jack stand, the most important thing to consider is if it could hold the weight of your vehicle. To know if the jack stands could support your vehicle, you would need to check the weight rating of this equipment.
- Jack stands on CarParts.com could cost anywhere from around $63 to $226, depending on the type and weight capacity, and could be bought individually or in sets of two.
Every vehicle owner should have at least the basic set of tools needed for car maintenance. For drivers of commuter cars, these tools come in handy in checking if the vehicle is safe to operate or if there are issues, such as loose wheels, that should be addressed first. As for do-it-yourself (DIY) mechanics, the tools are indispensable for carrying out maintenance, repairs, and other automotive projects.
The most common tools that probably come to mind for simple car maintenance work might include wrenches and screw and socket driver sets. These are useful in tightening loose nuts, bolts, and screws; removing components; or installing new equipment. However, to have better access and be able to check the underside of the vehicle, you would also need lifting equipment. While most people are familiar with car jacks, another essential lifting tool is the jack stand.
What Is a Jack Stand?
While car jacks, also known as floor jacks, are devices meant to lift heavy equipment or vehicles, jack stands are made to keep the lifted vehicle raised. This allows for enough clearance to get under the vehicle. Although jack stands are designed to hold a vehicle at a certain height, they may be considered more as safety equipment than lift tools.
Car jacks feature mechanisms that can move the arms up or down. There is, however, a possibility of the mechanisms failing if it supports the weight of the vehicle for long periods. When this happens, the car jack might suddenly drop the vehicle. This could lead to an accident if there is someone under the car.
On the other hand, jack stands have rigid arms and secure locking mechanisms. With stable bases, these equipment can keep vehicles lifted and steady as a person works underneath.
How Do Jack Stands Work?
The basic parts of a jack stand are a base, a pole, and a locking mechanism. Save for the support pad in some, which is what comes in contact with the vehicle, all components of the jack stand are made of metal.
Depending on the type, the pole, which could be threaded, toothed, or holed, usually goes through the base. Once the pole has been extended to the height needed to support the vehicle properly, the locking mechanism could be engaged to keep the pole in position.
Types of Jack Stands
Car jack stands are mainly classified by their locking systems. This equipment, however, may also be classified according to other factors such as the style of their base like tripod jack stands, and how they are used like under hoist jack stands.
These are the main types of jack stands:
The simplest type of jack stand is the pin lock. It has holes that are spaced at intervals along the length of the pole. The height of this jack stand can be adjusted manually by pulling the pole up or down. After the pole has been set to the desired height, it can be locked by inserting a metal pin through the hole. The pin would prevent the pole from moving.
In a ratchet lock type jack stand, the pole or bar features teeth. Meanwhile, a finger, called a pawl, is attached to a simple lever and is mounted into the base frame. Although its height can be adjusted manually, much like with a pin lock jack stand, the bar is locked into place in a different manner. Instead of a pin, the pawl gets wedged between the teeth of the bar, preventing the bar from sliding down.
With a screw lock jack stand, the arm is a threaded rod housed inside a tube. At the top of the tube, there is a bar with a threaded hole in the middle where the rod passes through. Spinning the bar causes the thread in the hole to drive the rod either up or down, much like a nut and a bolt. Once the bar is stopped from spinning, the rod locks in place by itself. Only spinning the bar would cause the rod to move.
Jack Stand Material
Since jack stands are meant to keep cars elevated while work is being done in the undercarriage, these need to be durable enough to not yield under the weight of the vehicle. As such, jack stands are often made from metal. Usually, either steel or aluminum is used to make jack stands. Both metals are also used for automotive parts.
Durable and fracture-resistant steel is formed by adding carbon to iron. This also gives steel a high strength-to-weight ratio. By adding chromium to steel, the iron alloy becomes resistant to oxidation and corrosion and is called stainless steel.
While also durable like steel, aluminum is lighter. It is also resistant to corrosion even by itself.
How to Choose the Right Jack Stand?
The most important thing to consider when getting a jack stand is its ability to hold the weight of your vehicle. While jack stands are meant to keep a car lifted, there is a possibility for them to fail if your vehicle weighs more than what they can support. If the pole or bar drops during maintenance or repair work, this could result in a potentially fatal accident.
To know if the jack stands could support your vehicle, you would need to check the weight rating of this equipment. Usually, jack stands are rated in pairs. For instance, a couple of 6-ton jack stands could mean that each can support a load of up to 3 tons. However, to be certain about the rating of the jack stands, carefully check the packaging or the tags. You could also try to check for more details regarding the jack stands on the manufacturers' information channels.
Buying Jack Stands
CarParts.com carries a variety of jack stands, such as heavy-duty 22-ton jack stands and 2 or 3-ton jack stands for basic maintenance work. These could cost anywhere from around $63 to $226, depending on the type and weight capacity, and could be bought individually or in sets of two.