How to Properly Jack Up Your Car

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How to Properly Jack Up Your Car

It is close to midnight on a dark, dank late autumn evening. As the car hums down the country road, the driver hears a small pop. Thinking nothing of the sound, the driver continues on the road until a much louder noise indicates a serious problem. After pulling over to the side of the road, the driver gets out of the car and realises the right rear tyre has a huge hole. Many car owners treat jacking up a car as a perfunctory task that requires no preparation, much less following a few standard steps. Some car owners do not even plan for the inevitable tyre change. Their car boots are bereft of the car jacks required to get the job done.

Car owners can find car jacks at auto maintenance and parts shops, as well as from online vendors that ship directly to homes. The best online venue for buying a car jack is eBay, one of the leading ecommerce websites. Before jumping the gun and trying to jack up a car, car owners should first learn about the types of car jacks, the safety precautions to take before using a jack, and the easy to implement steps that properly jack up a car.

Types of Car Jacks

It comes at the most inopportune time, whether you receive a flat tyre in the middle of heavy traffic or out in the country where the nearest car maintenance shop is dozens of miles away. The unexpected shock of a flat tyre prompts most drivers to carry a jack in the boot of their cars. However, many drivers do not understand that different types of jacks work best on different car models. Most drivers can choose one of the following three types of jacks to help them replace flat tyres.

Scissor Jack

This hand-operated jack employs long, self-locking screws that help car owners raise the vehicle off of the ground. The simple design conceals the sturdy construction the make scissor jacks a favourite amongst both drivers and mechanics. Many manufacturers include scissor jacks as part of the purchase of a new automobile. They centre the screw to raise and lower the scissor-shaped jack by using a tyre iron or specially designed tool made for specific car models. Because scissor jacks come in a wide variety of sizes and weights, buyers should consult with an automotive expert before making a purchase.

Hydraulic Bottle Jack

Hydraulic bottle jacks work best on heavier cars that require enough pressure to lift a vehicle off of the ground. The hydraulic system exerts pressure that can raise trucks that weigh several tons. Manufacturers typically construct hydraulic jacks with a cylinder, top, base, plunger, and a durable pump that holds oil. The plunger builds oil pressure controlled by a few valves that lift and lower vehicles. Hydraulic jacks receive ratings that depend on how much weight they can lift. The threshold for minimum lifting capability is three tons.

Trolley Jack

Based on hydraulic jack construction, the trolley jack differs from the other two primary types of jacks due to the wheels that allow users to easily move the jack to different areas of an automobile. Trolley jacks lift vehicles that weigh between two and four tons. Some models feature manual brake controls, and other models lock automatically when the jack begins raising or lowering a vehicle. Because of the mobility and locking features, trolley jacks provide stable performance on gravel and dirt roads. Ranchers and farmers use trolley jacks to help lift farm machinery on rural back roads.

Car Jack Safety Precautions

Car jacks are for not only lifting and lowering cars. Owners may want to inspect the brake system or check to see which type of fluid leaks from beneath a car. In any case, operating a car jack requires diligence to prevent injuries. An unstable jack can suddenly lose its grip on the pavement and strike the person operating the jack. The results can be serious injuries, such as broken bones or internal bleeding. Review the car jack safety precautions listed in the following chart before attempting to lift and lower a vehicle.

Safety Precaution

Description

Purpose

To raise and lower a vehicle, not to secure it in one place

Jack stands

Use stands when working underneath a car

Prevent people from being crushed to death

Block the wheels

Blocking the wheels prevents a car from rolling

Use bricks, wooden wedges, or metal wheel chocks

Parking position

Park near a curb with the wheels facing the curb

Can substitute for blocks

Ground level parking

Car jacks can become dislodged on hilly terrain

Gear

Place the car in park with an automatic transmission and first with a manual transmission

There is one safety precaution that surpasses the rest of the precautions on the list in terms of importance. Never change a tyre on a motorway. Car owners who cannot move their cars off of the road or far enough away from high traffic roads should contact law enforcement. It does not matter which side of the car requires a new tyre. Cars that sit close to, or in, a busy road are targets for motorists who travel too fast or do not pay close attention to the road.

How to Properly Use a Car Jack to Change a Flat Tyre

Take care of the safety precautions before getting into the physical exertion required to raise a vehicle for a tyre change. Ensure the car sits on flat, smooth surfaced ground. Even with a blown tyre, drivers must find a way to move their cars off of hilltops. Place the car in the proper transmission position and press down on the parking brake. Car owners should put the block in front or behind the wheel located diagonally opposite of the tyre to change. After safety precautions are put in place, following a few simple steps should help car owners properly jack up their cars.

Owner's Manual

This most logical first step is often neglected by drivers who panic after a blown tyre. Car owners should read the flat tyre section of their owner manuals the day they purchase their automobiles. Moreover, they should refer to the flat tyre section for a refresher course on how the car manufacturer suggests jacking the car up for flat tyre removal. The owner's manual describes where to find the car jack and detailed instructions on how to operate it.

Jack Placement

One of the biggest mistakes made by car owners is placing the jack too close or too far away from the wheel that needs a tyre change. Place the car jack on the frame that is closest to the flat tyre wheel. The owner's manual should have four illustrations that depict where the jack should be secured for each wheel. Placing the jack in the wrong spot can crack the frame, or worse, cause the car to crash to the ground after it has been lifted into the air.

Insert Handle

Regardless of the type of car jack, car owners must securely insert the handle to provide leverage during lifting and lowering the car. If a car does not rise steadily, lower the car and reinsert the handle. The handle should be parallel to the ground and barely move when touched.

Raise and Lower

Replacement tyres are larger than flat tyres to compensate for the size disparity by raising the car wheel to a height well above the ground. Work the jack handle with slow, consistent force movements that prevent the jack from rocking back and forth under the weight of the car. Lowering the car requires an even slower and steadier motion. Move all of the tools and jack accessories away from the area where the flat tyre is to be removed. Slipping on a tool may cause impact with the jack as it suspends the wheel.

Buying a Car Jack on eBay

eBay has an organised home page that divides products into large categories. While searching by category is one way to find the right car jack, the optimal strategy is to use the search engine located at the top of every page. By typing specific keywords into the search engine, you have a better chance of finding the seller who matches your car jack shopping criteria. For instance, "Audi car jack" returns a list of sellers who offer car jacks exclusive to Audis. You can also search for "wheel nuts" and "wheel trim" by using the search engine. You may find a few sellers who throw in a car jack with the purchase of a higher priced car accessory.

After the search engine returns a list of potential sellers, the next step is for you to play detective and find the seller who offer the car jack that works best for your car. You can examine the size and shape of car jacks from the enlarged photographs that sellers highlight on their product pages. Sellers also describe which credit cards they accept and how long it takes them to deliver the car jack to your front door. You can also learn from seller product pages if sellers operate an eBay Store where you can purchase car jacks directly.

Conclusion

Smartphones and GPS systems have taken most of the suspense out of car malfunctions. However, flat tyres can still pose considerable problems for car owners who do not prepare for the inevitable blown tread. This means car owners must not only stock their vehicles with car jacks, they must also be prepared to properly jack up a car to change a tyre or perform maintenance in their garages. Jacking up a tyre does not require Herculean strength, nor does it take a degree from one of the U.K.'s finest universities.

Properly jacking up a car first requires car owners to know the three primary types of car jacks. For example, hydraulic car jacks are constructed to lift heavier vehicles. Before they rush into jacking up a car, car owners must take several precautions to ensure safety. A jack that unexpectedly loses its position can cause serious injuries. After taking safety precautions, following a few simple steps can have a flat tyre removed in a short period. Just do not expect to become as accomplished as the pit crew members who work the Formula One racing circuit.

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