Best Floor Jacks – Buyer’s Guide
Best Floor Jacks of 2019
|Arcan ALJ3T (Editor's Choice)||Low profile, portable, for trucks and SUVs||Aluminum||3 Ton (6000 lbs)||3.6 to 19.4 in|
|Pittsburgh Automotive Heavy Duty||Ultra-low profile||Steel||3 Ton (6000 lbs)||2.9 to 19.75|
|NOS NSJ0301||Low profile, portable||Aluminum||1.5, 2, 3 Ton (3000 - 6000 lbs)||3.4 to 14.75 in, 3.5 to 19.5 in or 3.75 to 18.1 in|
|Arcan XL20 Low Profile||Ultra-low profile||Steel||2 Ton (4000 lbs)||2.75 to 24 in or 0.5 to 18.5 in|
|Pro-Lift G-737 Speedy Lift Garage Jack||Heavy duty, for trucks and SUVs||-||3 1/2 Ton (7000 lbs)||5.5 to 22 in|
1. Arcan ALJ3T – Top Rated Portable Jack for Truck and SUVs
With a three-ton capacity, the Arcan ALJ3T Floor Jack has a 3 3 /4” minimum lift height giving you easy access under vehicles that have low profiles. With rear swivel caster wheels mounted with ball bearings and front wheels with wide tracks, you can easily move this jack from point to point while keeping your load stable. The frame of the vehicle is also protected with a saddle pad and the jack itself is 2009 ASME PALD Standard compliant.
Even with its low profile, this jack is powerful enough to lift a three-ton vehicle safely to a maximum lift height of 18 ½”. You get fast action from the dual pump pistons that each has a dust shield to stop hydraulic contamination and keep the hack operating smoothly. The Arcan ALJ3T also features a two-piece handle giving you the leverage you need and easily breaks down for storage using the Quick Lock features for simple assembly and disassembly of the handle halves.
The Arcan ALJ3T is a durable jack that features thick frame side plates and lift arms that are reinforced to give you more strength, durability, and better chassis torsion control. Overload and bypass valves are designed to stop over-extension of the jack and hydraulic ram so it isn’t used beyond its rated capacity. Plus, it has a lightweight but strong aluminum construction that makes it easy to maneuver.
- Easy setup and not difficult to move around
- Solid design and not too heavy
- More controllable than others on the market
- Requires more pumping to get it up to height than others on the market
- Comes with poor instructions
2. Pittsburgh Automotive Heavy Duty – Fastest 3 Ton Option
Able to lift vehicles almost 2 feet off the ground, the Pittsburgh Automotive Steel Floor Jack has a low profile so it can easily under most cars. With Rapid Pump technology that features dual pistons, this jack can lift most loads in under four pumps. With the Pittsburgh Automotive Steel Floor Jack, you can slide the device far under your vehicle eliminating the need for multiple blocks and jacks to raise it up.
With precise welded construction and industrial grade finish, this incredibly tough jack is an industrial quality that can be used by professional mechanics. It also features a universal joint release that gives your accurate load control no matter what handle position you are using. The two-piece handle is constructed with knurled steel giving you a sure grip and features a foam bumper that eliminates damage to your car’s finish.
Weighing 79 pounds, the Pittsburgh Automotive is lighter than many of its competitors and uses steel casters that area extra-wide for stability. It has a height capacity of almost twenty inches and setups quickly and easily. The only assembly needed is for the lift handle. This jack can raise up to three tons including vehicles like sports cars, SUVs, sedans, and trucks.
- Nice and sturdy jack
- Easily lifts a heavy truck with its double pump system
- Even though it sits low, it will lift very high
- Needs better security to stop it from releasing the pressure so easily
- Needs a longer handle
3. NOS NSJ0301 – Top Rated Aluminum Low-Profile Jack
Similar to the Arcan, the NOS NSJ0301 3-Ton Aluminum Service Jack does have a couple of differences. Only weighing 27 pounds, the weight of the NOS is much lighter than the Arcan making it very easy to maneuver. Otherwise, it does have a similar lift capacity at three tons as well as the same design and lift height rate of up to over eighteen inches.
The NOS includes a lift arm that is reinforced and thick frame side plates for additional strength as well as chassis torsion durability and control. The safety valve helps to prevent overloading and you get rapid lifting with the dual pump. You get precise control from a universal joint release mechanism and the two-piece handle that includes a bumper pad.
The NOS is also easy to transport with its included side handles, and it is compliant with the ASME PALD 2009 Standard. With a deep focus on quality build construction, the NOS NSJ0301 is made almost completely from high-grade, polished aluminum.
The NOS also includes steel reinforcement around the arm to make it stronger and stop it from breaking under load. The front rollers and rear casters are also great features that make it easy to maneuver around your garage. It also has a large saddle that has a soft rubber coating that stops the vehicle’s jack point from slipping easily.
- Has a low-profile and very lightweight
- Nice looking, works well
- Good for occasional use on midsize and smaller cars
- Not a good choice for heavier vehicles like trucks
- The lever seems pretty fragile
4. Arcan XL20 Low Profile – Most Versatile Jack for Your Car
With a medium-lift height of 3 ½”, the Arcan XL20 Professional Service Jack has a maximum lift height at 18 ½”. This hand-operated dual pump jack comes with an easy to use handle that is around 45 inches long. This is a solidly built service jack that will last you a long time.
Powerful enough to lift anything between light to heavy-duty vehicles, the Arcan XL20 has a maximum capacity at two tons. Featuring a lift valve with built-in overload protection, you can breathe easy knowing your work area is safe and even though the stiff release can be annoying, it ensures you won’t have a fast drop when you lower the height. The low-profile design allows you to easily get under vehicles with low clearances like sports cars.
Weighing 67 pounds, it is not the easiest jack to move around but its low-profile and compact design makes it easy to store while still giving you the versatility of a full-sized jack. The universal joint release mechanism gives you precise control while the dual pump pistons allow you to raise vehicles quickly.
- Handy and compact
- Nice durable jack that is very affordable
- Lifts cars easily and very portable
- Heavier than you expect
5. Pro-Lift G-737 Speedy Lift Garage Jack – Best Heavy-Duty Option
Easy and simple to use, the Pro-Lift G737 Garage Jack has a 3 ½ ton capacity and features speedy lift functions. You can easily lift a vehicle to your preferred load height in just one to two strokes. It also features a rubber saddle to keep your vehicle protected during a lift and, with rear swivel casters, you can easily move the G737 around your work area to position it just right.
A universal Joint release mechanism gives you precise control when lowering a vehicle in any handle position. The Pro-Lift G737 comes with rolled side frames to give it more strength and prevent twisting and a foam handle that makes it comfortable for you to use. This professional grade jack also features a magnetic tool tray that helps to keep small parts around your work area for convenience.
- Overall great quality
- Super heavy duty and well-built
- Ready to use right out of the box
- This is a really heavy tool and not very portable
- Doesn’t have a wide enough angle between the jack stand and the lifting stick
What is a floor jack?
Often referred to as a garage jack, auto jack, or car jack, the floor jack is a mechanical tool created to lift heavy loads. Able to be used in a variety of ways, its most common use is lifting cars or trucks using a variety of mechanism like lead screws and hydraulics to do its job.
When and Why is a Floor Jack Used?
At some point, any auto mechanic, whether they are a professional or amateur, will use a floor jack to provide better access to the different parts of the car they are working on. The most common use of a floor jack is doing tire rotations and oil changes. Other uses are during brake pad changes, exhaust work, suspension work, transmission work, and rotor changes. Besides lifting cars, floor jacks can be used to lift just the motor or to give you more clearance in the engine bay for when you are replacing an engine mount.
Most of the time, you will be using your floor jack on hard, flat surfaces but you can use them other ways especially when they come with wheels or casters. If you want to work on your car effectively and easily, then a floor jack is a necessary tool in your garage.
What to Look for in a Floor Jack
Considering a floor jack can run from $100 to over a thousand dollars, the price is an important consideration of your purchase. You will find that a more expensive floor jack does not necessarily mean a nice quality one. You need to consider how well it operates and the materials it is made out of, preferably something lightweight. Some of the best quality floor jacks on the market are actually not that expensive since that is constructed out of steel.
A floor jack is just a heavy piece of equipment with some weighing between 50 to 100 pounds. If you have difficulty lifting or moving around that amount of weight, there are jacks on the market don’t need a lot of assembly when you receive them so you can pretty much use them right out of the box. You also should have a good idea where you plan to use your floor jack, i.e. whether you have a gravel or paved driveway so that the weight of the jack doesn’t make you tired quickly from moving it around to get to your vehicles.
You also need to consider the type of projects you will be using your floor jack with to know how powerful you need it to be. A typical floor jack rating falls between 1 to 4 tons of lifting capacity. For lighter projects like working on a lawnmower, a lower rated floor jack should be sufficient. If you plan to jack up a pickup, then you will need one powerful enough to do the job easily.
You need sturdy construction for a jack to be able to handle the demands of the job. Most heavy-duty floor jacks are constructed with metal. The type of metal used in a floor jack will make a huge difference in cost and performance. Aluminum is a great option because it is both sturdy and lightweight but it definitely costs more. Steel is a great option in terms of for costing less but it makes the jack heavier and difficult to move. Combination jacks made of both aluminum and steel can be a nice mix of affordability and lighter weight.
Depending on your uses, weight may be a big consideration in your decision. If you use your jack often and move it around a lot, you will want a jack that is as light as possible like an aluminum jack. If you are only using your jack at home and not as frequently, then how heavy it is isn’t as big an issue. Always make sure you match the floor jack’s weight to how you plan to use it so you don’t end up purchasing a floor jack that won’t work for the projects you have planned.
A low clearance on a car can make it difficult to jack up. The profile height on a jack is determined by the distance the saddle of the jack is from the ground at the lowest point. Having a floor jack with a low profile can make this task easier allowing it to get under vehicles with low clearances like race cars and performance cars that sit very low to the ground. It is also a great feature if you jack up other things besides cars.
The speed of a jack to lift up a vehicle also varies widely. Some work very quickly with just a few pumps while others only rise up a little at a time while you continue to pump and pump. Depending on your situation, you may need a jack to pump up quickly like during a race but, if you are just home in your garage and have more time, it isn’t a very important feature.
One of the most important features of a using a floor jack is safety. Remember that a jack stand is necessary to support a vehicle on, so do not use a jack without one.
Car Jack Types
Using no hydraulics for lifting a vehicle, scissor jacks are operated by hand. They are the easiest to store which is why they are often used to change a flat tire. They are also reliable but slow. You also need to be careful when using one as they do not come with large bases to keep them sturdy as your car is jacked up.
Heavy and compact, bottle jacks can lift a very large amount of weight. Not only are they powerful, but they use simple hydraulics to jack up a vehicle. The hydraulics feature is activated when you place your tire iron into a plunger in the cylinder and then pump it up and down. Using less energy to lift a vehicle than a scissor jack, the bottle jacks are both more powerful and more expensive.
Trolley Jacks/Floor Jacks
Featuring powerful hydraulic jacks that are easy to use, floor jacks do tend to be bulky and heavy and not very easy to maneuver. If you are using it in a home garage, this is a great choice as it can easily jack up a vehicle for a tire change and many have a capacity rating of four tons. With a wider and longer base, floor jacks are sturdier and some of the better models can get pretty expensive.
Auto Floor Jacks
Versatile and easy to store, an auto floor jack doesn’t have to be bolted to the floor when jacking up a vehicle. They can lift most car and trucks safely that fall within their weight specifications and have wheels making them easy to maneuver.
Designed vertically, a farm jack is used for projects that need pulling and lifting. Common in areas with rough terrain that see bad weather in the winter months, farm jacks are great at getting vehicles unstuck from ice, rocks and any uneven ground that comes with bad road conditions. With a separate operating mechanism, the farm jack is different from a floor jack but can still do a basic lift job for repairs and inspections.
Used for major lifting operations that a floor jack can’t handle, a piston jack is able to lift up to 50 tons but needs a big space to work in. it is not a good choice for vehicles with a low-profile, unlike a floor jack that works well for everyday vehicle lifting.
Floor Jack Accessories
Tire Iron and Wheel Brace
Most vehicles will have a tire iron and wheel brace in it. Normally paired with a scissor jack and spare tire, these tools will help you loosen lug nuts as well as an integral part of working the jack. Many times, the ones that come with your car aren’t the best quality so it is often necessary to get a decent set from an auto parts store.
When jacking up a vehicle, a jack stand is a vital part of the process. You don’t want to crawl under a car that is up on a jack unless you also have a jack stand placed strategically under it for safety. They come with holes in them and metal keys that you push through the holes locking them into place for security.
Designed to keep a vehicle from rolling off the jack while you work, wheel chocks can also be used with the car’s parking.
Using a Floor Jack Safely
Your personal safety is the most important thing to think about when using a floor jack. Here are a few basic safety principles that will help you use your floor jack safely.
Don’t trust your floor jack to support the vehicle by itself, always use a jack stand
There is always the possibility of failure when you are dealing with a mechanical device. Hydraulic floor jacks have been known to fail over time from wear and tear on the hydraulic components. Unfortunately, this failure will only cause the jack to slowly bring the vehicle back to the ground which can go unnoticed during the time that the person working underneath the car could escape. Remember, that when you are laying on your back under a vehicle, your agility and speed is limited and it isn’t that easy to get out of the way.
The best way to avoid this scenario is to use a floor jack that features a set of high-quality jack stands. Instead of relying on your floor jack’s hydraulics, put a set of jack stands under your vehicle. You can climb under the vehicle only after it is supported by jack stands. It is also a good idea to rock the vehicle a little by hand near the top to make sure that you have a sturdy setup before you climb under, that way you won’t risk the car falling because it was placed on a poorly placed jack stand. You can also add chalks to keep your car from rolling or a wheel that you have already removed for additional safety.
Make sure to raise your car on level ground
Only raise a vehicle on level terrain because placing your jack and jack stands on an angle from an uneven floor can create a tipping hazard since the vehicle can easily go over center from where your jack is and fall. This often happens to those that lift a car on a slanted driveway or on any type of slope.
Always slowly raise and lower the vehicle
Slowly raising and lowering your vehicle lets you see issues before they occur which will hopefully allow you to stop them from happening. And, on the flip side, if you lower your car too fast, you run the risk of damaging your car. No matter which way you are going, your best bet is to use slow and controlled movements.
Only use the correct jacking points on your car
This is a vital safety principle and needs to be followed. There are very specific points on the frame of your car that have been reinforced to support your car’s weight when it is raised with a jack. You will find these locations in your owner’s manual and sometimes they are marked on the car itself. Under no circumstances should you lift a car unless you are positive that the car is being jacked up from the correct location.
Now that you have learned everything you wanted to know about floor jacks, you can head out to the stores with confidence. Remember that you need to match the floor jack with the vehicles you will be working on making sure it has the weight capacity to handle the job safely. With the many great floor jacks on the market, you should have no problem finding the right floor jack for your needs.