Completing minor maintenance and repairs on your primary vehicle has the potential to save quite a bit of money when compared to the cost per hour for a certified mechanic at a shop to perform the same repair. Some of these repairs will require the operator to access the part to be repaired or replaced from underneath the target vehicle. For a first-time repair job, this can be quite a daunting task, but the inclusion of a solid hydraulic floor jack can not only speed the repair up, if used properly, can provide a level of safety that is unparalleled among do-it-yourself chassis lifting equipment.
With that said, there are some basic safety rules that must be followed to ensure property operation of the floor jack to be used. As a general rule of thumb, if the following tips of operation are employed, the task at hand can be a breeze:
- First and foremost, always follow the weight limit established by the manufacturer of the jack. Exceeding this weight limit can cause very dangerous operating conditions.
- Once the weight class of the jack has been verified to correlate to the weight of the vehicle, it is important to thoroughly read the instructions provided with the floor jack upon initial use of the equipment.
- Generally speaking, always find a spot on the frame of the vehicle that is positioned to achieve adequate access to the part without overstressing the limits of the jack. If available, the owner’s manual to the vehicle to be repaired with specify where these lift spots are. On hydraulic floor jacks, there will be a hydraulic knob that must be closed in order to allow the jack to build enough pressure to lift the vehicle. Engage this knob and test your hydraulic system by attempting to use the jack handle to move the jack up.
- Once this has been done, continue to crank the floor jack up until there is enough space to slide in a safety-designed jack stand.
- After the first jack stand has been inserted, release and lower the floor jack and perform the same step on the opposite side of the vehicle, making sure to safely place the second jack stand.
- For added safety, always make sure that lighting conditions are adequate.
- Once you have located the part to be removed and replaced, properly follow instructions for how to remove this part with the least amount of force and torque necessary, all the while making sure not to allow your foot to come into contact with the opposite jack stand.
- Once your part has been removed, check the stands for stability and safety. If adjustments need to be made, use the floor jack to lift the chassis off of the stands enough to allow for repositioning.
- After checking for stability, replace the part using a reverse method of how you removed it. Make sure that all appropriate fasteners and/or wires are in place as well as check to make sure you have no “leftover” parts, as this can be a sign that the job has not been performed correctly.
- After your repair is complete, use your floor jack to raise the vehicle enough to remove the jack stand. Once removed, slowly disengage the lowering knob on the floor jack to allow for slow, steady lowering of the vehicle.
- Repeat the process on the other side.
By following the above steps, one can save time and money by using a floor jack and performing certain simple repairs or replacements, such as replacing a starter. Careful precaution must be taken as all times to avoid serious injury. Once again, never get under a vehicle unless the vehicle has been placed on jack stands that are graded to hold the appropriate amount of weight. Also, check periodically to ensure that the jack stands have not shifted. As with anything, remember that safety is always the key.