10 Best Jacks: Reviews and Buying Guide

Twice a year, a tire change is on the vehicle. Many summer motorists like to get their summer and winter tires on their own because their own contribution saves money for the workshop. If you belong to the group of artisans, you will need a suitable jack. The selection is great and so is the price range of the offers.

Top 10 Jacks

What is a jack – and who needs it?

What a jack is, explains itself actually by name: A jack is a device with which a car or other vehicle can be lifted in one place. Usually, a pending wheel change is the reason for the lifting. However, this may also be necessary for repairs to the underside of the vehicle, such as when working on the exhaust or on the oil pan. The same applies to the renewal of the brake pads. Certain types of jacks, so-called shunting jacks can be misused. If the support surface is large enough, you can also carry heavy loads. For example, this is handy when building, if you want to move a pallet of bricks over a shorter distance.

In principle, anyone who drives a car needs a jack. This does not just apply if you change your summer or winter tires yourself twice a year. Leave this work to a workshop, at least a simple scissors jack in the trunk is still recommended – even if the entrainment is not required by law. If you have a breakdown on the way or you need to install the spare wheel at home because of a flat foot, such an assistant is indispensable.

Jacks are available in different versions

Almost in every trunk, you will find a jack at the factory. It allows you to change the defective tire to the spare wheel in the event of a breakdown. A simple, diamond-shaped scissor jack is usually enough  – and with such models, most vehicles are already stocked at the time of purchase. In this form of the jack is jacked by a spindle winch the car. You lift the car with the help of a crank and lots of muscle power.

For the change from summer to winter tires and vice versa, there are some more comfortable versions. We distinguish in:

  • Shunting jack
  • Stamp or stick jack
  • Air cushion or balloon jack

Shunting jack

For private use and in workshops then find mainly shunting jack use. Today these devices work mainly hydraulically. Thanks to small and movable wheels, the utensil can be easily pushed under the car. It is pumped up with a lever, the maneuvering is done by simply opening a valve.

Stamp jack

Stamp jacks usually work like shunting jacks according to the hydraulic principle. Again, the vehicle is lifted by oil pressure and lowered by releasing the pressure via a valve. In addition, there are stamp jacks, which are based on the pneumatic principle instead of hydraulics, so work with air pressure. This slightly more expensive version is preferred in the workshop area. The advantage of a stamp jack compared to a maneuvering model lies in the usually higher load capacity.

Air cushion or balloon jack

A vehicle can also be effectively lifted with an air-filled bag. Then it is a so-called air cushion or balloon jack. The advantage of these models: you do not have to spend any muscle power. On a plastic bag is a long hose, which you simply put on the end of the exhaust. The vehicle is almost pumping itself up. In addition, such a jack can be used on soft and uneven ground. However, the jacks are more prone to damage. Since the vehicle is running, no gear is engaged. It must, therefore, be secured with the handbrake and additional brake pads.

When using an air cushion or balloon jack, note that most of the balloon is under the vehicle, even when inflated. Otherwise, the necessary stability is not given. In addition, the pillow may never be fully inflated, as it may burst. For such jacks, it is particularly important to study the manual carefully.

How does a hydraulic jack work?

Hydraulic jacks operate on a simple physical principle: Inside the jack is a liquid. This is usually hydraulic oil. By pumping with the pump rod, this oil is increasingly compressed. This resulting pressure pushes the lifting bar of the jack in the air and the vehicle is raised.

It is easy to understand that this creates an enormous pressure inside the jack. This is also the most common cause when a hydraulic jack is denied service. The gaskets become porous over time and can not withstand the pressure. As a result, hydraulic oil escapes, so that insufficient pressure can be built up to lift a vehicle.

Which jack is the best?

The question of which jack is the best, can not be answered flat rate. The helper with whom you can best cope and who meets your needs is the best for you personally. Of course, the device must match the weight of your vehicle.

Which jack is suitable for which car

Before buying a jack, it’s worth taking a few moments to think about what your requirements are and which model will do it justice.

Depending on the mobile pedestal you have to consider certain criteria. If your vehicle is lowered, you need a jack that fits underneath. An SUV, in turn, is usually heavy and tall. 2.5 to 3.5 tons dead weight are not uncommon in these vehicles. This weight must first lift the jack and still reach the required height.

In principle, a balloon jack is suitable for every vehicle. Thanks to a hardly existing own height, it fits under every lowered car. Its usually high load capacity makes it even in a heavy SUV not limp.

The price question: What does a good jack cost?

The large selection of different variants and different models make the decision when buying a jack not easy. The price range goes from very cheap for a simple scissors jack – you can buy this already from 10 euros – up to professional versions. However, then quickly creates a few hundred euros high cost.

Choose first for a variant that suits your needs and the conditions such as vehicle weight and height of the car. Afterward, you can take a closer look at the different models.

Tips for changing tires: Where to attach the jack

If you do not want to leave the assembly to the workshop, you can easily change your tires yourself with a little practice. The right tool alone does not make a master but makes the job much easier. It is important that you take enough time in the beginning. It is not completely harmless such a tire change in own direction. We will show you how to proceed correctly and what you should pay attention to.

  1. Only jack up the vehicle on a level surface: Only make a tire change on a level surface and solid ground. A sloping terrain is not suitable. Additional safety is provided by brake pads.
  2. Applying the handbrake and gear: Apply the handbrake and engage the first gear. If it is an automatic transmission, select the “P” position.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the jack: The jack in the boot is only for emergencies. For a planned tire change of all four wheels, you should use a more comfortable jack. Familiarize yourself with the operation of the aid in advance. Take a moment and read the manual. At least briefly try the functions of the jack without lifting the vehicle.
  4. Looking for a specific location of the vehicle for attaching the jack: In order for the jack to safely lift the car without slipping, it must be placed in the designated area of the vehicle. There is no general information here. The lift point is different for almost every car. A glance at the manual of your vehicle provides information on where the jack must be placed. This part of the car is usually reinforced to withstand the high loads.
  5. Have the tools you need: Put your tires and the tools you need at hand. So you can work quickly and above all concentrated. If you have to interrupt the tire change or other work on the vehicle several times, it will lead to carelessness errors faster, thereby increasing the risk of accidents. You definitely need a wheel hub, even better is a torque wrench. Of course, the new bike should also be next to you. Pay attention to the correct running direction of the tire. Also, the correct position of the wheel plays a role: Was the bike in the last season left front, you should mount it there again.
  6. Loosen wheel nuts before lifting: Before jacking up the car, loosen the wheel nuts diagonally. Proceed in the order of loosening the screws in the compass pattern – North, South, East, and West. Or you just remember the formula above, below, right and then left. Half a turn per wheel nut is enough. The reason for this is simply this: after lifting the wheel you have no more resistance to loosen the nuts – the wheel would rotate with no firm ground contact.
  7. Only jack up as far as necessary: Once you have loosened the wheel nuts, you jack up the vehicle. You do not have to use the maximum lifting height of your jack. It is enough to lift the car so far that the wheel can turn freely. The rule of thumb is: About a hand’s breadth of air under the wheel allows you a safe wheel change. Only now the wheel nuts are completely unscrewed and removed. Then you can remove the old wheel and put on the new one. It’s best to put the wheel nuts right into the wheel holes during the process. Always start with the top screw. Turn this a few turns into the thread, So the rim has held. Then hand-tighten the screws. Follow the same procedure as when unscrewing. First the upper, then the lower screw – then right and left opposite.
  8. Tighten wheel nuts crosswise: After releasing the nuts, tighten the nuts crosswise. This is easier with a torque wrench because you will not tighten too tightly or too loosely if you have adjusted the torque correctly. Which setting is the right one can be found in the manual of your vehicle. An important advantage of the torque wrench is safety. With such a tool, you avoid the tearing into the screw metal or even a tearing of the screw thread.
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