Aluminum floor jacks are the most common kind of jack available on the market for domestic use today. They’re a vital tool for anyone who wants to do vehicle maintenance at home, whether as a hobby or a money-saving exercise.
They’re not only popular with amateur mechanics, however: more and more of the floor jacks in use at commercial garages are cast and built from high-quality, lightweight aluminum.
If you want to work on your automobile in the comfort of your own garage – even if you only plan on changing tires – you’ll need a floor jack before you can get to work, and when it comes to the potentially dangerous tasks involved in vehicle maintenance, it pays to invest in quality.
Below are the best aluminium floor jacks available on the market.
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|Name||Lift Capacity (Tons)||Max Lift Height (Inches)||Our Rating|
|Arcan AJL3T||3||19.3||9.4 / 10|
|NOS NSJ0301||3||18.25||9.4 / 10|
|PowerZone 380044||3||18.25||9.4 / 10|
|Sunex 6603ASJ||3||20||9 / 10|
|JEGS 80077||3||19.25||8.8 / 10|
|Neiko Pro 20272B||3||19.25||8.6 / 10|
The purpose of a jack is to give you the leverage to lift heavy loads – much heavier than you’d be able to move unaided. Of course, they don’t just lift the load but secure it in place, allowing you to get underneath and access the load’s underside in relative safety.
Jacks are used for a wide variety of purposes, but by far the most common use – especially when it comes to floor jacks – is lifting automobiles. This is why jacks are a commonplace in any garage worth the name, and also why many discerning road users take the step of purchasing their own jack for use at home.
If you know what you’re doing – or are prepared to put in the homework to learn – doing home auto repairs can be a big money-saver. To be able to do that, there are some bits of equipment you simply can’t do without; among them, the trusty jack.
If you’ve decided to kit out your home garage, there are a few things worth knowing about jacks before you start narrowing your options and choosing which to buy.
First, it’s worth reminding yourself of the variety of ways in which you can use a jack: thinking about how you’re going to be using it on a typical day is a useful exercise to identify which type will be the best buy for you.
The basic task of the jack is to lift the vehicle itself, allowing the mechanic access to various components they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Among these components are the drain plug, the wheels, brake pads, transmission, suspension and exhaust.
Floor jacks can also be used on the vehicle’s motor, lifting only the motor and so making additional space to work within the engine bay. These are some of the vehicle-specific uses: a good jack can have applications outside the garage, too.
The floor jack is the most common style of jack you’ll see in garages, both commercial and domestic. It’s named simply because it’s operated from the floor, something which – in tandem with either hydraulics or screws – allows it to generate considerable force with relatively little input from the operator.
Among floor jacks, there are a few different types which can be considered. The floor jack you’ll see in the greatest numbers is the hydraulic floor jack: it’s popular with mechanics on account of its ease of use and convenience. The mechanism in this type of jack is the hydraulic cylinder, mounted on a frame, which raises and lowers a lever arm with a small platform surface – this is the saddle, the point at which the jack connects to the vehicle.
The hydraulic cylinder is usually operated by way of a detachable lever, which makes the act of lifting light on physical effort. The jack’s frame is usually a wheeled trolley, which means that maneuvering the jack into position is simplicity itself.
The length of the lever arm on a hydraulic jack also gives these jacks a high maximum lift height, meaning you can raise your vehicle higher and making certain maintenance tasks a lot easier to navigate. Hydraulic floor jacks aren’t the cheapest on the market, but there’s a reason they’re the most popular.
Scissor jacks offer a low-tech alternative: they don’t use hydraulics, instead being operated by a screw which in turn expands or retracts a scissor linkage, on top of which is the saddle which connects with the vehicle’s underside.
Scissor jacks are cheap and light, easy to carry around or keep in the car boot in case of emergencies, but they come with very real limitations. For one, the nature of the scissor linkage places a hard limit on the jack’s maximum height, meaning you probably won’t be able to rely on your scissor jack for much more than a tire change. Transmission work, for example, will either require a hydraulic floor jack or a visit to a professional garage.
Another, less common, style of floor jack is the bottle jack. This is essentially another type of hydraulic jack, only in place of the extending lever arm in a conventional hydraulic jack the bottle jack uses a series of concentric cylinders, which are expanded and retracted via hydraulic pressure.
The big advantage the bottle jack has over its generic hydraulic cousin is that it takes up much less space – a big deal if your workspace is small or cluttered.
Unfortunately, there’s a major disadvantage, too: by nature of being bottle-shaped, bottle jacks have a much higher minimum clearance height than hydraulic floor jacks, making them difficult (if not impossible) to use on cars with a low profile.
Besides thinking about how you plan on using your jack, and which style might be most suitable for your home use, there’s one major decision to be made when it comes to shopping for a floor jack.
This is the question of which material to choose: with few exceptions, floor jacks are constructed from either steel or aluminum. Both metals have benefits and drawbacks, but increasing numbers of mechanics – both professional and amateur – are moving away from traditional steel to modern aluminum. Why is that?
Despite steel being the long-standing material of choice for the construction of floor jacks – and for good reason – aluminum floor jacks are steadily growing in popularity. While it’s unlikely that aluminum will ever entirely replace steel, there are a number of good reasons to opt for an aluminum jack over the more traditional steel option.
It should be noted that price-wise, there’s not much of a difference between aluminum and steel. Aluminum is more expensive than steel by weight, but steel is the more expensive metal to cast, meaning prices are comparable across the materials.
If you’ve decided an aluminum floor jack is the way to go, there are a few things to consider when you come to compare different makes and models.
It should go without saying that using a floor jack – or doing any kind of automotive repair, with or without a jack – is potentially dangerous, and the personal safety of everyone involved is paramount.