How To Use A Floor Jack The Right Way

Whether you need to lift your vehicle in order to change a tire, or to do work on it, there will be times when you need to get part of it above the ground. Sounds simple enough.

You may find it surprising then that according to 1998 research, by the US National Center for Statistics, it was estimated that approximately 5,000 people were injured every year in the United States as a result of jack collapse. One in five of them being injured while attempting to change a tire.

If you follow the instructions outlined in this guide, you will improve your chances of not being one of them.

Young Woman Changing Flat Tire

Basic Parts Of A Floor Jack

Lifting Arm - The lifting arm of a floor jack is the solid bearer bar, that rises as the jack is pumped up.

Handle - The handle of most floor Jacks will usually have a decent length in order to give the user good leverage. The better the leverage; the easier it will be to use.

Hydraulic Ram - Underneath the lifting arm, of the floor Jack, will be the hydraulic ram that moves the lifting arm upward, as it is pumped.

Saddle Pad - The saddle pad rests on the end of the lifting arm. The saddle pad is the part that comes into contact with the vehicle.

Jack Mounting Point - The jack mounting point can be found below the doors, on the underside of the vehicle, running from front to back. Your owner’s manual will help you locate these, if you are uncertain where to find them.

Air Bleeder - A small screw type valve on the hydraulic pump, used to remove air from the hydraulics.

Before You Start

If you are using your floor jack for the first time, or have not used it recently, we highly recommend that you give the floor jack a basic servicing, using the recommended procedure of the floor jack’s manufacturer. This will be found in your floor jack’s owner manual.

The basic servicing is very easy and low stress.

Using Floor Jack To Change Oil On Car

Normally you would just check that there is adequate oil (if it requires oil). Also make sure that no parts have seized and that moving parts, are able to move freely.

When you are ready to use a jack, but before you do so, pump the jack with the air bleeder open to get any air out. When you are ready tighten (but do not over tighten) the air bleeder closed.

Make sure that your motor vehicle is on a flat, level surface and that the parking brake is on.

Guide To Using A Floor Jack

  • Using your vehicle owner’s manual, locate the points underneath your car, where the manufacturer recommends placing the jack
  • Place the floor jack underneath the vehicle, with the saddle pad beneath or resting on the manufacturers recommended jacking points
  • Pump the jack’s lever downwards, in order to raise the saddle pad
  • When the saddle pad is contacting the manufacturers recommended jack point, do a quick check to make sure that the saddle is securely resting on the jack point
  • Continue to pump the jack’s lever downwards, in order to lift the vehicle
  • When the vehicle has reached the desired height, stop pumping the jack
  • Place a jack stand underneath the recommended jack mounting point. The use of jack stands are important for your safety, if you intend to work underneath your vehicle, or leave it raised for some time

Important Safety Tips

Always use your vehicle’s manual to find the recommended places for putting the jack, when lifting your vehicle.

Use a floor jack on flat surfaces so as to make sure that the vehicle is as stable as possible.

Floor Jack On Flat Surface

Any jack is intended as a temporary means for raising a vehicle. Jack stands or other supports should be used if you will be leaving the vehicle raised for some time, or if you intend to go underneath your vehicle. Never work underneath a vehicle when it is only being supported by a jack. All jacks, no matter how good they are, can potentially fail; the loss of life or limbs, are not worth the minute saved by not using jack stands.

If you are planning on going beneath your vehicle, gently give the vehicle a shake to ensure that it is stable before you do so.


A floor jack is a wonderful tool to have in your garage, should you need to lift your vehicle. While appearing relatively simple to use, the consequences of getting a wrong can be dire. An investment in a good floor jack can be the difference between a small job being quickly and easily completed versus possibly being maimed. Invest in a good floor jack today - you will not regret it.

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