When you've got repairs to do underneath your vehicle, you need clearance to freely bend your elbows and swing your arms when using tools to remove and install components. Being able to safely suspend your vehicle high enough off the ground eliminates the chore of wriggling on your back. Supporting your car or truck off the ground is an absolute must when taking wheels off to do brake or suspension work. In this article, we'll look at the safety and convenience benefits of jack stands and discuss what's available in the Automotive Lifts and Stands section of our website.
Jack Stand Load Ratings
When looking for jack stands, their weight rating is the most important factor to consider. Typically, you'll see jack stands rated at 3 tons up through 20+ tons. Unless stated otherwise, jack stands are sold in pairs and given a weight rating based on what the pair of them can support together. For example, a pair of 2-ton jack stands are rated for loads up to 1 ton per stand. (Not to overstate the obvious, but we also want to make sure that all know: in the U.S., 1 ton equals 2,000 pounds.)
Find out what your car or truck's "curb weight" (weight of the vehicle without passengers but with all fluids topped off and gas tank full) is. It will be specified in your owner's manual or it can be found by contacting your vehicle's manufacturer. Base the weight ratings of jack stands you purchase on this number. Remember that not all vehicles are evenly weighted front to back - many have up to 60% or more of their weight over the front wheels. For safety's sake, we recommend rounding up when it comes to selecting weight rating.
Jack Stands Support Your Vehicle Far More Safely Than Cinder Blocks Or Milk Crates Can
Some do-it-yourselfers may swear by cinderblocks simply because they've used them a number of times previously without incident. However, there's a reason martial arts experts choose cinder blocks to break with their hands instead of jack stands - cinder blocks will crumble if significant weight or sudden shock is placed on them.
It's important to remember that cinder blocks are designed for a uniform load that's spread out evenly. Sure, houses and large structures are built with cinder blocks, but weight is distributed over a large number of blocks. Plus, in these applications, cinder blocks are meant to be laid with the hollow part facing up, strengthened with rebar, then filled with concrete to reach an effective strength level.
If you take a hammer and use it to hit a cinder block without any load on it, the block will crack. Add the weight of a car, and that crack will quickly turn into a crumble. It's easy to accidentally bang into a cinder block with a heavy steel part you're removing, or bash it with a wrench that's slipped off a nut. The internet is full of such stories about cinder blocks that crumbled and caused disaster.
And for milk crates - if their thin construction doesn't crush immediately under the weight of a vehicle, it won't take long until a minor jostle causes collapse. They were designed to carry items that weigh about the same as milk, not to support the weight of a car or truck.
Aluminum Jack Stands
If you're like most automotive enthusiasts, your garage cannot be large enough - ever. There is never enough room for all the tools, storage boxes, extra automotive parts, spare OEM wheels, fluids, and other items that collect on shelves and in corners. Items such as jack stands which are used irregularly tend to work their way underneath and behind things. Steel jack stands are heavy, and can be awkward to lift and carry.
If you value light weight, 3-ton aluminum jack stands weigh only about 5-6 pounds each. While their combined weight of 12 pounds or less makes them very easy to lug around, it also makes them practical to carry in a vehicle all the time if work or other needs dictate. We’ve got the Sunex 3-Ton Aluminum Jack Stand, Torin Big Red 3-Ton Aluminum Jack Stand, and OTC Aluminum Jack Stands.
Maximum height that jacks can be extended to is an extremely important factor to remember if you've got a sport utility vehicle or a pickup truck. Most standard jack stands typically adjust from a height of 10 inches in their lowest position to 17 inches fully extended. This may be enough height to get a Mazda Miata's wheels off the ground, but you'll barely be able to reach the frame of a Chevrolet Tahoe - much less budge it up much.
The Hein-Werner 10 Ton High Reach Jack Stand set adjusts from 30" all the way up to 52". Not only does this make supporting any trucks easy (especially lifted ones), these stands can also double for use on agricultural and construction vehicles if you've got them. And if you need stands that really get your car high in the air for an extended project, four AFF 10-ton Single Jack Stands can support a total of 10 tons each.
The other extreme applies if you have a Corvette, or a Ferrari, or even a "normal" car that has a lowered suspension. In those cases, you may be looking for jack stands that start at a low height so that you don't need to jack up your sports car that high before you can fit the jack stands under there.
Since a vehicle must first be elevated before jack stands can be placed in position, we've got hydraulic and other lifting jacks rated from 2 tons up to 50 tons. If you’ve got a lowered vehicle that’s difficult to get a standard hydraulic jack underneath, we’ve got “low profile” jacks such as the Sunex 2-Ton Low Profile Service Jack, AFF 2-Ton Low Profile Floor Jack, and the Jackco 3-Ton Low Profile Floor Jack. And if you're looking for a complete kit that adds a hydraulic lifting jack, wheel chocks, and an under-vehicle creeper in addition to a set of 2-ton jacks, check out Powerbuilt's Garage Service Combo Set.
To help guide you through the selection of jack stands and other related components, we have set up the Automotive Lifts and Stands section of our website to provide as much information as possible about each product. For each jack stand we sell, you'll see ratings for maximum weight along with a clear description of how the item functions. If a "Product Options" field exists for the item you're looking at, select it to see any weight rating choices that may be available.
Most importantly: be 100% certain that you are making a safe working environment for you and your vehicle! Purchase the best jack stands that you can, and use them the correct way, so that you have the comfort and confidence you need when working on your car or truck.