Knowing where to place jack stands is important if you’re going to do any kind of work under your car. Even something as simple as changing a tire requires your car to be safely lifted off the ground. Here’s what you need to know about where to place jack stands so you can safely work on your vehicle.
A jack lifts your car off the ground while you’re working on it, but once it’s there, you need a way to keep it off the ground. While the jack does the temporary lifting part, a jack stand is a much more stable answer for keeping it up in the air. It sits beneath your vehicle to keep it from falling and potentially hurting you.
A typical jack stand is shaped like a pyramid, with the base sitting on the ground. The top of the pyramid connects with your car and usually has a U-shaped piece of metal that acts as a cradle. It can lock into place in a few different ways. Most have a ratchet with a support bar and a pin as added security. In other cases, a jack stand might have a screw that gradually lifts the support bar high enough to connect with your car and keep it lifted.
It’s key to place the stands correctly to ensure your safety. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves, and check the capacity of your jack stand too. Never use jack stands that are not rated to hold your vehicle’s weight.
You’ll need to find a smooth, flat surface on which to work. Hills, uneven ground and soft sand won’t work. You want a level spot where the jack and jack stands won’t slide out of place or sink down into the ground.
Lifting the Car
Pull your parking brake, chock any wheels that are staying on the ground, and locate your jack points. It’s important to note that you can’t simply put a jack anywhere under a car and expect it to hold. There are designated jack points with structural components that can hold the weight of your vehicle. You can often find the jack points by looking for a pair of notches in the long structural rails that run the length of each side of the car.
If you put your jack or jack stands in the wrong spot, you could cause damage when you try to lift your vehicle off the ground. Look in your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where your jack points are located.
Place the Jack Stands
Once the vehicle is lifted, slide the jack stand underneath, and raise the support bar until it’s as close as possible to the contact point without lifting the car off the jack. Next, slowly release the jack so that the car lowers to sit on the jack stand. Repeat these steps at every location where you intend to put a jack. To remove the stands, do the reverse: raise the car off the stands, and then pull them free.
Check out all the jack products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to safely use a jack stand, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy Flickr.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.