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Workshop Machinery- Automotive Equipment. Trolley jacks.

Updated on December 4, 2010

What to look for in a trolley or floor jack.

When buying a trolley jack to suit your workshop, always ensure that you buy one with a very low profile.

If you need to get under the front or rear of many sports cars and even some sedans you need a very low jack.

The smallest trolley jack I use is rated at 2 tons lifting capacity.

As you need to reach under the car to place jacking stands under the suspension points you do not want an under capacity jack to fail on you while you have parts of your body still under the vehicle.

There are several different jack configurations, but I like the type with a handle twist release.

If in good condition these types of jack can lower the car in a controlled way preventing dropping the vehicle hard and causing damage.

short jacks.

Some of the cheaper jacks that are quite short when lifted high are highly unstable. I like my jacks to have a bit more length for stability.

If I need a short jack I buy quality. Flex is the enemy of jacks!

The quality of the wheels is also another safety feature. If wheels are cheap they often collapse, leaving the car precariously perched.  Often the jack will fly out from under the car and drop the car off sideways skewering across the floor possibly damaging other vehicles or equipment.

An extra few dollars is well invested in a better quality trolley jack rather than risk all the things that go wrong with the cheap ones.

Spare parts are a breeze with the better brands too.

Some of the cheaper ones are hard to buy repair kits for, and some simply are unrepairable.

A good quality trolley jack should last for at least 10 years.

A quality short jack.
A quality short jack.

All jacks are a compromise between being stable and manoeuvrability. If a jack is wide and long it will be more stable, but it may not fit where you want it to.

To sum up, you need a jack that is low at the front to get under low autos, that is long enough and wide enough to be stable when extended.

Check the lowering valve under a full load to see how it releases. Even fully laden you should be able to slowly lower  the vehicle without jerks.

Often a car will jump off a jack if it is lowered in jerky movements.

Many jacks have a two stage lift, one to get it in place quickly with the foot pedal, then the handle to take the weight. Although a little more expensive, they do save time.

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