Whether you are a professional mechanic, you want to be able to do some light vehicle servicing and repairs at home, or you need to be able to change a tyre when you’re on the road – a hydraulic trolley jack is the perfect piece of equipment for you. There’s a lot of different models and variations on the marketplace, so we’ve come up with this guide to things to look out for when you are searching for your perfect jack.
What is a hydraulic trolley jack?
A jack is used to lift up your vehicle so you can either access the underside or take the weight off a wheel to change the tyre. Hydraulic jacks do this by compressing oil in a pump cylinder (usually when you repeatedly lift and lower a handle), which raises a vertical piston. The piston then raises the arm or platform of the jack, in turn lifting the vehicle. A trolley jack is on wheels, making it easy to position the jack precisely.
How much can it lift?
This is a key choice when you are buying a hydraulic trolley jack. A good rule of thumb is to get a jack that can lift at least three quarters of the total weight of your vehicle – you are only lifting part of it, so you don’t need a model that can lift the entire weight. A full-sized family saloon-style car can probably get away with a two-tonne capacity jack, whereas a larger vehicle like an SUV or a van will need something that can lift three tonnes or more.
Most top-tier suppliers will stock jacks with capacities ranging between 1.5 and four tonnes.
How far can it lift?
If you are keeping your jack in your car, purely for on-the-road tyre changes, you’ll want a smaller jack. This will take up less space in your vehicle, and it only needs to lift the vehicle a very little way to allow you to get the job done. If you are doing servicing or repairs at home, and need to actually get underneath the vehicle, you’ll need a larger lift.
Common elevation ranges available are 100mm to 500mm, with higher lifting jacks available from more specialist stockists.
What about non-standard vehicles?
If you have a low-profile vehicle like a sports or custom car, you need a specially designed low-profile jack. These typically have super-low clearance levels (in the 70mm to 85mm range) and can fit under even very low vehicles.
At the opposite side of the spectrum – if you drive an SUV, truck or van – you’ll need a jack with a higher than usual lift. These jacks are designed to reach and lift the underside of vehicles that are higher than the standard.
Any special features to look out for?
The actual act of pumping the jack can be time-consuming and exhausting. Where possible, look for models with fast lifting capabilities (sometimes called ‘rocket lift’) as they will require significantly fewer pumps to lift. Jacks kept in vehicles are obviously limited in the size they can be but, if your jack is staying at home or at work, a longer handle can also alleviate some of the strain and effort required.
Modern jacks, particularly good quality ones, will come with safety features built in. These include overload prevention valves and joint release mechanisms. Always make sure that you are using an appropriate jack – never try to lift a vehicle that is too heavy for your jack as, even if you succeed, the vehicle might break the jack and drop suddenly while you are working.
Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk
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