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The Best Car Jacks to Help You Get Started on Your Repairs

For both amateur and professional mechanics, a method of lifting vehicles is required to perform many maintenance tasks safely and efficiently. The pros often have massive hydraulic hoists that come with equally massive price tags. At the consumer level, however, there are also quite a few practical options for jacking up a car, including a floor jack, scissor lift, bottle jack, or just simple ramps. Here, we will explain the different types of jacks, their variety of uses, and which ones you may want to purchase for your own garage.

What to Consider

Types of Car Jacks

Scissor Lift: A scissor lift can often be found in the spare tire wells of many cars, and is really only meant to be used in a pinch, while changing a tire on the road. For anything more than that, you’ll want to consider a different car jack.

Floor Jack: For more serious repair jobs, the popular floor jack is your answer. This design rolls under the vehicle’s jack point using its wheels, and has a hand-pumped hydraulic mechanism to extend its lift arm.

Bottle Jack: Then there’s the bottle jack, which is like a floor jack with no wheels. While less convenient, the added stability of the bottle design lets it carry more weight.

QuickJack: Lastly, there is the newer “QuickJack” type, which combines hydraulics with an electric motor for much greater ease of use.

Ramps: For a simpler solution, ramps may be all you need.

Weight Rating

Each of these products has a specific weight rating, and you’ll want to make sure the one you buy is able to accommodate all of your vehicle’s weight. Jacks also have a minimum and fully-extended height measurement, which is something to be mindful about whether your vehicle has a particularly high or low ride height.

How We Selected

Popular Mechanics has decided on these products using auto maintenance experience, as well as some input from publications such as RoadShow, The Drive, and BobVila.com. Prices, specs, and consumer scores are also poured over to select a range of jacks which will suit a variety of needs and budgets.

1

Budget Buy

Crescent Bear Scissor Jack

Crescent Bear
amazon.com

$29.99

Jack Type: Scissor jack
Weight Rating: 3,000 pounds
Height Extension: 13.8 inches

This scissor jack is about as simple as it gets, and should really only be intended as a replacement for a broken or missing OEM model. The only added creature comfort here is a ratcheting lever that can make raising and lowering the jack a bit easier. The collapsed scissor mechanism sits at 3.5 inches and can extend to 13.8 inches while holding up to 3,000 pounds. 

Like all scissor jacks, however, stability becomes limited as it goes higher, so you’ll want to get the car onto a jack stand or spare tire as soon as possible.

  • Affordable
  • Ratchet handle included
  • Less stable than a floor jack

2

Good Value

Pro-Lift Hydraulic Trolley

Jack Type: Floor jack
Weight Rating: 3,000 pounds
Height Extension: 12 inches  

This entry-level floor jack covers several basic needs. It can be rolled under 5.25 inches of ground clearance, and extend a full foot up in the air. Capacity is rated at 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds), which is enough for many small to midsize cars. For larger vehicles, or frequent repair jobs, a higher-rated product should be in order. 

The body of the jack is all steel construction, with some rust-resistant coating added on top. There’s also a solid carrying handle that can make it easier to position underneath the vehicle. A sturdy plastic luggage case is included, which makes the jack very easy to transport and throw into a trunk or toolbox.

  • Affordable
  • Compact design with carrying case
  • Low weight rating
  • Needs slightly high ground clearance

3

Easy to Use

Solid Steel 3 Ton Ramps

Balance World Inc
amazon.com

$98.95

Jack Type: Ramps
Weight Rating: 2,000 pounds (for each)
Height Extension: 9.25 inches

For simple maintenance tasks like oil changes a jack may not be needed at all. Solid ramps should be enough to make space under the vehicle, but they won’t work if the job requires tire removal. The manufacturer states that each of these ramps has a 2,000-pound weight capacity, and together hold the front half of a 6,500-pound vehicle. 

The shape of the product gently slopes toward the peak, so as not to interfere with lower ride heights. There are traction nubs on each slope, and then a smooth cradle at the top, which will hold the tire in place. 

Just be sure to apply the parking brake after driving up. Each ramp is about nine inches wide, so can only accommodate tire sizes around 225 millimeters or lower.

  • Simple
  • Stable
  • Good weight rating
  • Too narrow for wide tires

4

Best Overall Value

Pro-Lift Low Profile Two Ton Jack

Pro-LifT
amazon.com

$69.59

Jack Type: Floor jack
Weight Rating: 4,000 pounds
Height Extension: 14 inches

This second Pro-Lift entry gives better specs for a little extra price. With a two-ton (4,000-pound) weight capacity, it can accommodate a wider range of vehicles. Lower ground clearance applications also work, as it sits at 3.5 inches, and can extend all the way up to 14 inches. The assembly is painted steel throughout. It also features an adjustment handle, but no carrying case. 

We would’ve like a longer pump handle to be included, as using that 18-inch one can require a lot of exertion to extend the jack fully.

  • Low profile
  • Two-ton capacity

5

Compact

Torin 3 Ton Low Profile Jack

Jack Type: Floor jack
Weight Rating: 6,000 pounds
Height Extension: 18.7 inches

This Torin floor jack can slip into about 3.7 inches of clearance, and extend 6,000 pounds of weight up to a height of 18.7 inches. The pump handle is also over three feet long, giving good torque on the mechanism, and not requiring the user to bend down too much.

There is, however, no adjustment handle along the body. It does include what Torin calls a safety overload system, essentially meaning the hydraulic pump will refuse to lift a vehicle exceeding its weight rating. Lastly, it comes with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.

  • Low profile
  • Safety overload
  • Long pump lever

6

Heavy Weight

Pro-Lift 4 Ton Bottle Jack

Pro-LifT
amazon.com

$25.10

Jack Type: Bottle jack
Weight Rating: 8,000 pounds
Height Extension: 16 inches

As mentioned, these bottle jacks come with a lot of weight capacity for the price, but you’ll want to make sure to place it precisely on the vehicle’s jack point, as it will not be able to be adjusted during the lift. It also needs eight inches of clearance to use. Good for trucks and trailers; not good for sports cars. 

Fully extended, the jack is about 15.4 inches tall, and can hold an impressive 8,000 pounds. The folding pump lever is only around 16 inches at full size, so it’ll take some work on the mechanic’s part to get it to max height.

  • High weight capacity
  • Stable base
  • Not adjustable once placed
  • Not low-profile
  • Short pump lever

7

Pro Grade

Blackhawk Fast Service Jack

BLACKHAWK
amazon.com

$181.14

Jack Type: Service jack
Weight Rating: 7,000 pounds
Height Extension: 22 inches

This fast service jack features a solid 3.5-ton (7,000-pound) weight capacity, with a four foot pump handle that can easily be used in a standing position. The jack assembly itself is also heavy, at 85 pounds, so it’s not the most portable solution. It requires 5.5 inches of clearance (which may be too much for lowered cars), and lifts up to an exceptional height of 22 inches. 

Additionally, the jack piston head has its own rubber padding to protect the vehicle frame from any nicks and scratches.

  • Very long lever
  • Protective padding
  • Good weight capacity
  • Heavy
  • Needs a little clearance

8

Premium Option

BendPak QuickJack

QuickJack
amazon.com

$1,990.18

Jack Type: QuickJack
Weight Rating: 5,000 pounds
Height Extension: 17.6 inches

The QuickJacks differs from almost every other kind of consumer jack in that it can lift all four corners of a vehicle off the ground at the same time, up to 5,000 pounds on this particular model. It works with two large hydraulic pistons that are pumped by an accompanying electric motor. Each half of the assembly is separate, so can be adjusted to various vehicle widths. 

Each side lines to a car’s frame rails, and it can be sent up to 17.6 inches of height in just 30 seconds. It also only requires three inches of clearance when collapsed.

While extended, the mechanism is held in place by channel locks similar to those on a full-sized lift, so jack stands aren’t required. Reliability, ease, and quickness of use has made the QuickJack popular with dedicated auto enthusiasts, but these features don’t come cheap, and the nearly $2,000 price tag is a little much for the average consumer.

  • Fast
  • Stable
  • No pumping needed

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