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stands on plywood
You can save quite a few bucks by
jacking up your car or truck and
doing your own repairs and
maintenance. But if you want to live long
enough to spend all the money you save,
you owe it to yourself and your loved ones
to bone up on jack safety.
Start by parking your car or truck on a
flat concrete surface. Trucks and most
SUVs have steel frames that support the
entire vehicle. Nearly all cars, on the other
hand, are of “unibody” construction; that
is, they don't have a frame. So each type of
vehicle requires different points of support
for jack and jack stand placement.
Consult a repair manual to locate the
recommended lift points and support
locations for your vehicle. Repair manuals
are available at auto parts stores or online. Before jacking,
engage the parking brake and chock the
rear wheels to prevent car movement.
Start jacking from the front of the vehicle.
The front end of four-wheel-drive trucks
can be raised by placing the jack under the
differential. For two-wheel-drive trucks,
place the jack beneath the jacking pad
under the engine.
Place the jack so the cross member or
differential lines up with the recessed area
of the jack saddle. Slowly pump the jack
handle until the front wheels leave the
ground. Then stop jacking and doublecheck
the jack placement. Look at the
front of the vehicle to make sure it's not
leaning to one side. If it is, lower and
recenter the jack. Otherwise, continue
pumping until the vehicle reaches the
Support the front of a truck by placing
the jack stands directly under the frame.
Support the rear of the truck with a jack
stand under each axle. Turn the handle very slowly until the vehicle starts easing
down. A quick release will result in a sudden
catastrophic drop. Lower the car or
truck until it almost touches the saddle of
the jack stand. Then make final alignment
adjustments before lowering the full
weight onto the stand. Remove the floor
jack and bring it to the rear of the vehicle.
Locate the recommended rear lift point
and repeat the jacking procedure at the
rear of the vehicle. Place the two rear jack
stands in proper support locations and
lower the rear onto those stands.
With the vehicle up on all four jack
stands, gently shake the vehicle side to
side and up and down. This ensures that
the vehicle is sitting squarely on the jack
stands and that the jack stand saddles
have full contact with the support points.
If the vehicle wobbles, stop immediately
and reposition the problem jack stand
before crawling under the vehicle.
Tip: If you plan to remove your tires,
loosen the lug nuts slightly while
the car is still on the ground. That'll
keep the wheels from spinning
while you turn the lug wrench
once the car's raised.
Jack and support a car
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Cars have unibody construction, and each type will have different support points for the jacks.
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Photo 1: Front jacking point
Place the recess of the jack saddle
directly under the engine cradle cross member.
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Photo 2: Jack stands
Place the jack stand under the support
point. Raise the saddle and
make sure it locks into place.
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Photo 3: Rear lift point
Place the floor jack so it contacts the
rear lift point and raises the vehicle.
For most cars, the recommended front lift point is the engine cradle cross
member (Photo 1). Lift and support the front of the car first. (If you start with
the rear, the front end may be tilted so far that you can't roll a jack under it.)
Place the jack so the cross member lines up with the recessed area of the jack
saddle. The jack stand support locations (pinch welds; Photo 2) for cars are
usually located behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels.
Jack and support a truck
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Trucks have different jacking points than cars
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Photo 1: Front lift point
Place the jack directly under the
truck's front lift point.
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Photo 2: Frame
Place the jack stand directly under
the truck's frame.
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Photo 3: Rear lift and support points
Position the jack saddle directly
under the rear differential.
For two-wheel-drive trucks, place the jack beneath the jacking pad under the
engine (Photo 1) at the front and under the differential at the back (Photo 3).
On four-wheel-drive trucks, place the jack under the front differential. Always
place the front jack stands directly under the frame on any type of truck.
Support the rear of the truck with jack stands under each axle.
Check Your Lift Cradle!
Most front wheel drive cars
have heavy steel engine cradle
cross members that can be
used with a floor jack. However,
some late-model cars
have one-piece cast aluminum
engine cradles. These vehicles
require special jacking procedures.
Using the incorrect procedure
is not only dangerous,
but it can cause extensive
damage to your vehicle.