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Types of Car Jacks and When Do You Need Them

Types of Car Jacks and When Do You Need Them Featured Image

Who can lift a car effortlessly apart from the strongest man participating in the car lifting challenge? Only a car jack can, without any glitch. Car owners often use different types of car jacks to lift their cars for emergency repairs.

However, you can turn your garage into your own car repair shop with a car jack. It also comes in handy to

  • Change a flat tire while driving,
  • Renew the engine oil,
  • Replace the exhaust system, or
  • Do repair work under the car for a long time, etc.

Possibly, you have used a car jack at least once or more in life. Then you may know that not all car jacks are made the same way. Some are intended for portability, while others are to lift more weight.

As you possibly know already, there are many types of jacks on the market. There are even many options to choose from in a single category of the automobile jack. But, how do you know what is the best kind of jack for your car?

Our answer is simple – read the article!

What is a Car Jack?

Car Jack, tires and 4-way lug wrench

Car Jack, tires, and 4-way lug wrench

Let’s start with the basics. An automobile jack is a lifting tool used to lift a car off the ground. It can be either hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic jacks utilize hydraulic power to lift heavy loads or apply great forces.

A hydraulic cylinder filled with pressure creates the forces needed to lift heavy loads. Conversely, a mechanic jack utilizes a screw thread to lift a car entirely or partially off the ground.

A car jack is also known as a floor jack or garage jack. However, it allows someone to lift vehicles to perform maintenance. A hand jack for a car can lift around 1.5 tons to 3 tons. Industrial jacks can lift many tons of load.

What is a Jack Used for?

Having a car jack in your garage is always beneficial. It comes in handy mostly when you need to do repair work. People mostly use it to change a flat tire or change the tire routinely. Also, these are used to change oil or to inspect for damages.

Further, a car jack is essential to get a clear view of what’s going under the car. And often is designed to withstand the weight of a vehicle. So, you can perform the repair works without any issue.

For whatever reason it is being used, the main purpose of a car jack is to lift the car smoothly. Since your car is valuable to you, it needs to be handled with care. Only a car jack can do that.

Besides, most of these tools are portable. People use to carry a portable car jack in their cars to get covered when it need most.

If you need to work under the vehicle for longer, you need extra stability. A jack stand comes in handy in that case. A jack stand ensures safety and stability while you are under the vehicle.

Car Lifting Jack Types and Their Mechanism

There are two basic types of car jacks, depending on their mechanism.

  1. Mechanical jack
  2. Hydraulic Jacks

Mechanical Types of Jacks for Lifting

A mechanical car jack uses a simple mechanical method to lift a vehicle. These car jacks utilize a screw to raise and lower a hinged mechanism slowly. Or they gradually use a ratcheting system to lift the vehicle at a time.

How Do They work?

While a screw jack unit operates, the rotation of the worm shaft forces the worm gear to rotate. The worm gear is attached to the lead screw, and it helps rotate the screw jack.

So, both rotate at the same speed. When the warm gear rotates, the frictional force of the screw thread also rotates the nut. These categories of car jacks include a scissor jack and high lift jack – savior of an off-roader.

Hydraulic Types of Jacks for Lifting

Hydraulic jacks utilize a vertically or horizontally placed hydraulic cylinder to lift heavy loads. These jacks use the fact that the liquid is not easily compressed. Floor jacks and bottle jacks are some of the types of hydraulic jacks.

How Do They Work?

Hydraulic jacks are made of a reservoir full of oil. Some of that oil is drawn from the reservoir on the handle’s surface. At the bottom, that part of the oil is forced into the central cylinder and under a piston.

As the amount of fluid under the piston increases, the pressure pushes the cylinder upwards. It will remain up there until the oil comes out and flows into the reservoir.

Different Kinds of Car Jacks

Now you have been familiar with the two basic systems used by the car jack. Many types of car jacks use these two basic systems. Let’s get familiar with them.

1. Hydraulic Bottle Jack

The bottle jack is one of the most common and versatile types of hydraulic jacks.

It looks like a bottle with an elongate cylindrical body and a pump handle. Pump the handle of a vertical hydraulic jack up and down to lift heavy vehicles with ease.

Most of the best hydraulic bottle jacks have an extended base for added stability. These are often used on construction sites to support the floor joists or foundations.

However, bottle jacks are pretty compact, making them suitable for garage storage.

Hydraulic bottle jacks come in a range of lifting capacities.

The average size of a bottle jack can lift at least 2 to 12 tons. They can also lift jumbo sizes ranging from 20+ tons to 100 tons. Above all, it’s very easy to use, even for new car owners.

2. Floor Jack

If you watch videos about car racing or vehicle repair, you’ve probably seen a floor jack. You may have noticed that they bring a tool with wheels and keep it in place for repair work. This is basically a floor jack – a type of hydraulic jack.

Out of all kinds, jack 3-ton floor jacks are popular. The floor jack itself looks like a racing car. It has a long handle attached at an angle from one end. It is very easy to carry around using the long handle and wheels. Hence, it is an ideal choice for the garage.

Besides, it takes no time to install it in position. The hydraulic pressure allows raising and lowering a heavy vehicle using the long handle. The low-profile design makes it an ideal option to work under the car.

Also, it makes an ideal choice for some light construction projects. However, picking the right size is mandatory. They are small enough to fit among the littlest riders out there. Floor jacks require little to no experience to use.

3. Scissor Jack

A Scissor jack is possibly the simplest type of jack you can have in your garage. As the name implies, it looks like scissor arms. It is possibly the oldest type of jack out there. However, it is small and portable.

This jack can fit in a small space. It’s a mechanic car jack that uses a screw mechanism. A long threaded screw connects both sides of the jack. Besides, there is a base where the device rest and a lifting saddle at the top.

Using the screw, you can open or close two scissors to raise or lower the saddle. However, it can lift at a short height ranging from 15-inches to 30-inches. A scissor jack offers unmatched safety compared to others.

In addition, they are compact and lighter. You can fold them between uses. Scissor jacks are really very easy to use. Like other jacks, it requires no maintenance except for keeping it clean.

4. Trolley Jack

The trolley jack can roll in dirt and stones. Besides, it has a braking mechanism. It makes the jack one of the safest jacks for a range of applications. Trolley jacks can lift up to 4 tons and are generally used for automotive repairs.

It pumps the cylinder oil by lifting the jack handle. As soon as you lower the jack handle, it pushes the pressurized oil towards the main cylinder. It helps the main piston to lift.

5. High Lift Jack

The high lift jack is mainly designed for off-roading. This non-hydraulic car jack is not what you may find in every garage. It comes in handy when lifting a heavy trailer out of the mud.

A high lift jack can lift the car up to 5ft off the ground and is rated 7000 lbs.

Some Common Questions About Car Lifting Jack

1. Why is a car jack called a jack?

The term “jack” represents the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” It came from the word “man.” It applies to things that make a man’s place or save human labor.

2. Do cars come with jacks?

These days most new cars come with a car jack. Mostly scissor jacks, trolley jacks, and bottle jacks come packed with new cars.

3. Can I use a bottle jack to lift a car?

Absolutely, you can. In fact, hydraulic bottle jacks are safest than many. They will be much safer if you use a jack stand with a bottle jack. It increases the stability of the car jack.

4. What is the Difference between Floor Jack vs Trolley Jack?

Looks similar to a floor jack, but the trolley jack comes with heavy-duty construction. The lighter construction of a floor jack allows for ease of portability. Conversely, the trolley jack is made from steel.

It comprises a release spring that allows releasing the jack at an efficient speed. However, the other noticeable difference between the floor jack and trolley jack is their range of lifting heights.


Hitherto, you have learned different types of car jacks and their mechanism. Your next step is to determine which type you need for your car. Note that it’s an investment for more extended periods.

A car jack can last many years if maintained properly. If you need to spend some extra bucks for a high-end model, just go for it. A high-quality car jack will give you the best value for the money you spend.