Last Updated on September 10, 2020
Floor jacks are a must-have tool for any home mechanic. Even your most basic DIY jobs need a floor jack. Surprisingly, these seemingly simple tools are a bit more complicated than you might first consider.
These machines range in material, weight, and height – all of which have a significant impact on how they work. The saddle can even be formed in different ways.
Luckily, picking the perfect floor jack for your workshop doesn’t have to be complicated when you have some basic information at your disposal. We put together this complete guide that includes everything from product reviews to essential factors to consider while shopping. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about choosing the perfect floor jack.
|Best Overall||Blackhawk B6350 Floor Jack||
|Best Value||Torin ‘Big Red’ Hydraulic Floor Jack||
|Premium Choice||Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack||
|Pittsburgh Automotive Steel Car Jack||
|Craftsman 3 Ton Service Jack||
We liked this Blackhawk B6350 Floor Jack the best out of all of those currently on the market. We genuinely think it is the best option for most buyers.
It has a 3.5-ton capacity, which is more than enough for most homeowners and mechanics. Unless you’re working on something massive, you won’t need a floor jack with a higher capacity than this. A built-in internal safety valve ensures that it is safe at all times and prevents accidents. You can never go wrong with added safety. The swivel saddle allows you to position the jack right where you need it quickly and prevents accidents as well, which is something we can always get behind.
We particularly liked that this jack includes a bypass system that prevents the machine from being damaged if you accidentally over pump it. This makes it an excellent choice for beginners, who are likely going to be more prone to over pumping.
Overall, this floor jack is made to lift whatever you need off the floor quickly. However, like all floor jacks, it is not made to hold stuff for an extended period, so you’ll need a separate machine for that.
The Torin ‘Big Red’ Hydraulic Floor Jack is made of heavy-duty steel. This material is about as good as you can get, providing plenty of durability and longevity. You can expect this floor jack to last you for quite a while. It has a 3-ton capacity, which is slightly less than our top pick. However, we don’t think that most homeowners will be missing that last half of a ton. This is fine for most basic mechanic work and we think it’s the best floor jack for the money.
It has two large steel casters and a swivel caster to help with maneuverability. We prefer swivel designs, where possible. They’re just so much easier to use in most cases. The extra-long neck saves you some lifting time, especially when you’re lifting vehicles that are a bit higher off the ground, to begin with.
Like many high-quality floor jacks, this one comes with a bypass system that prevents you from overloading it. This makes the jack much safer and ensures you won’t accidentally hurt yourself while using it. We also liked the single-piston lift pump, which allows you to raise the jack to the desired height very quickly.
For those who spend a lot of time doing mechanical work, you may want to consider purchasing the Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack. It is a bit more expensive than the others we reviewed. However, it comes with many great features that make the price worth it in some situations.
It is designed out of aircraft-grade aluminum, which is durable and lightweight. It is much lighter than most other floor jacks, making it much easier to move around. The dual pump pistons allow you to raise cars very quickly, and the strong arm increases the machine’s strength and durability. You can expect this jack to last you quite a long time. The saddle is made out of rubber, which helps protect your car. Plus, the handle has a foam bumper on it as well.
The side mount handle allows you to position the machine more easily. We liked the two-piece handle as well, which makes it easier to store the jack away when you aren’t using it. And your jack is likely going to spend a decent amount of time in storage. This isn’t a machine most people are using 24/7.
The Pittsburgh Automotive Steel Car Jack is made with industrial-grade materials, making it quite durable. The dual parallel pumping system makes lifting cars extremely easy and requires fewer pumps. The universal joint release is also nice, as it provided precise load control no matter where the handle position is. The casters are extra-wide for more stability. While this feature was nice to have, it probably won’t be much use in your average home setting.
The construction is precision-welded, so you can rest assured that it isn’t going to be coming apart any time soon.
There were a few things we didn’t like about this floor jack, though, which is why it is only number four on our list. There are just a few design flaws on the machine. The cover plate seems to be smaller than the area it was meant to cover. The screws used to keep it on appear to be ordinary, not the precise screws you would expect.
The springs are also very close to the hydraulic cylinder body. This can cause them to snap. You can use grease to fix this problem, however.
While we didn’t dislike the Craftsman Ton Service Jack, we didn’t particularly like it either. It’s just your basic, run-of-the-mill floor jack. It is decently easy to operate in that it is very simply built, so you really can’t mess it up. The handle is easy to grip, which was a nice feature. Plus, the whole thing is made out of steel, which is pretty nice as well. The total lift range is pretty extensive, though not as large as some of the other jacks we reviewed. Still, we felt that it could get plenty high for most uses.
This floor jack is made in China, and there are more than a few quality issues. There are many reports of the jack arriving broken or the box being bent up (or shredded in some cases). While this isn’t a problem with the machine itself, you can’t use a floor jack that’s broken on arrival. Furthermore, we’re worried about something minor breaking in shipment, causing a potentially dangerous situation when you go to use it.
The customer service for this jack is also quite poor. So, if it does arrive broken, don’t expect much.
This Compact Racing Floor Jack is made by Pittsburgh, which is a lesser-known company. This machine is very inexpensive. However, in this case, you’re getting what you pay for. This jack can do its job, but it isn’t going to do it particularly well.
It is constructed out of durable, aircraft aluminum. This is pretty sturdy and decently lightweight as well. It is much more lightweight than floor jacks that are made out of steel. The handle is also made out of aluminum and is knurled. This feature makes it easy to maintain a steady grip. We liked that the design was compact enough for secure storage as well.
You cannot purchase spare parts of this jack, which is a significant downside. If it breaks, it breaks. You’ll have to purchase another whole jack. Because of this, this jack may be cheap up front, but it may cost you money in the long run. It is also harder to pump than some of the other options we reviewed. You need to put your back into it. Lowering the vehicle down is also not controlled at all and a little sudden.
At first glance, the Arcan Low Profile Steel Floor Jack looks quite good. It comes with a dual pump piston, allowing you to raise your vehicle much faster. It also has a low-profile frame for secure storage. We also found that it worked nicely for vehicles that were lower to the ground than most. It is made out of steel like most jacks, which is a durable material. The saddle is made of rubber to protect your car from wear-and-tear. Surprisingly, this is a decently rare feature and one that we particularly liked. It has bypass valves to prevent it from being overloaded and a two-piece handle for storage purposes.
However, after some use, it isn’t hard to tell that the rubber saddle is quite soft. It can begin to rub off very quickly, which makes us question the overall lifespan of this jack. We don’t expect it to last long. The bar tends to get stuck a bit during releases as well, so turning the valve off takes a specific touch. This may be difficult for beginners to figure out.
Furthermore, this was a bit heavier than we would have liked. It takes some work to move it around.
The Hein-Werner Hydraulic Floor Jack is made in the USA, so we’d expect the quality to be a bit better than most. However, this sadly does not appear to be the case. It is made out of cast iron, which is extremely heavy. This isn’t the wrong material to use, but it isn’t one of our favorites either. Steel and aluminum tend to work much better.
Despite this, there were a few useful features we noticed right away. The side plates are flagged, which provides some stability, and the frame is wide for the same reason. We did like the U-shaped joint for precise load control as well.
However, the cons began to outweigh the pros quite easily. This pump seems not to work more than it does. Defective parts are widespread and the odds of you getting a jack that just doesn’t work is high. For this reason, we just couldn’t recommend it any further up in the list. Plus, it is quite expensive as well. The value just isn’t there.
At first, the low price of the Performance Tool 2.5 Ton Capacity Floor Jack piqued our interest. However, once again, you’re getting what you pay for. The capacity of this floor jack is only 2.5 tons. That is far lower than most of the other jacks we reviewed. Our number one pick even has a capacity of 3.5 tons – far higher than this one’s capacity. That alone set off some red flags and let us know that this jack likely wasn’t very high quality.
As we dug deeper, we found a few other problems as well. It is very sensitive to lowering, which can be dangerous. There are some reports of injury because of this defect. The handle also slips easily out of place while you are raising the car. That isn’t helpful one bit. Also, to open the relief valve, you have to use a screwdriver. We have no idea who thought this was a good idea, but it just isn’t.
Despite all this, there were a few things we liked. The swivel casters make positioning easy, and the frame is made out of steel. The bypass valve is a reliable safety feature as well, as it prevents the machine from overloading.
The Pro-Lift F-767 Low Profile Floor Jack landed at the bottom of our list for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, it can only hold 2 tons of weight. This is the lowest capacity on this list. This will allow you to lift most medium-sized cars, but anything more significant than that, and you might run into a problem. For instance, most pick up trucks weigh just under 2 tons. A Ford F-150 weighs more than 2 tons, putting it out of this jack’s range.
The hydraulic system on this lift also seems poorly put together. It is not very durable at all, so don’t expect it to last a very long time. It is not a reliable lift by any means. There are also many reports of this lift arriving broken or in pieces (with all the pieces not even there). That is a significant reason why this lift is so low on our list.
This jack isn’t extremely cheap, either. It costs less than some higher-end options, but it is not the cheapest jack on this list. If you’re looking to save money, this is not the way to do it.
There is a surprisingly high number of jacks out there, and many of them come with a host of different features. It can be difficult to pick through all these options and select the best one for your needs. There is no reason to fret, however, because we’re here to help. In this section of the article, we’ll give you all the information you need to make the perfect buying decision.
It’s pretty simple. These jacks use the technique of hydraulics, which has been around for thousands of years.
When you lift the handle of your floor jack, it causes the pump piston to rise, which draws hydraulic fluid from the reservoir. It is always a certain amount of fluid with each press. When you lower the handle, this liquid rushes into the main cylinder and causes it to rise, which in turn makes your car go up. The whole system is built around the movement of the hydraulic liquid.
When you’re done with the floor jack, you can turn the release valve. This makes the fluid flow from the main cylinder back into the reservoir where it first started. This makes the piston lower back down.
This is how most floor jacks work – the ones that use hydraulics, anyway. You can purchase mechanical floor jacks, which work differently. However, most jacks today use hydraulics to operate.
There are three main types of car jacks, though you only see one kind today. The other two kinds are still available though, if you go looking for them, so it is essential to know the difference.
This simple machine is very old-fashioned and not on sale much anymore today. It is very cheap and small, which explains some of its draw. It works with a handle that winds the arms apart, which lifts your car. You wind the handle one way to lift it and the other way to lower it. It is effortless.
This is what most people use today. They’re the safest and fastest option, as well as requiring very little work. They practically always have wheels on the bottom, which makes positioning the machine much more comfortable than some other options. You simply pump the handle to make the car go up and use the release valve to make the car go down.
Some of these are set up slightly differently. Some models have a separate lever for the release, and others don’t. You can also find a few wacky designs where companies tried to produce something different, though these are not nearly as popular.
This is the same as a trolley jack, except it uses hydraulic force to lift the car. These are becoming increasingly more popular. They’re smaller and more comfortable to store, though they aren’t quite as stable. We already have an in-depth discussion of how this jack works in the section above.
How big should my floor jack be?
This depends on your vehicle’s size. Your floor jack should be at least rated for three-quarters of your vehicle’s gross weight. If you don’t know how much your vehicle weighs, a quick Google search should be able to let you know. When in doubt, go on the safer side and get the bigger floor jack.
Can a 2-ton jack lift an SUV?
It depends on the exact SUV. It may be sufficient for raising one corner of it, like if you needed to change a tire. However, you would likely need a jack with twice that rating to lift the whole SUV. You need a margin of safety when using a floor jack. You should not push the machine up to the edge of its capabilities.
How much can a 2-ton floor jack lift?
Two tons is equal to 4,000 pounds, which sound like quite a lot. However, some vehicles are much larger than this. Most big pickup trucks are going to be over this rating, for example.
We reviewed quite a few floor jacks. However, the best by far was the Blackhawk B6350 Floor Jack. This floor jack is easy to use and has a high weight rating. It is the only floor jack you will ever need. There was very little we disliked about this tool, which is why we recommend it so highly.
It is a bit expensive, though, so if you need to save a bit of money, we recommend the Torin ‘Big Red’ Hydraulic Floor Jack instead. It has a slightly lower weight rating, but should still be plenty for most home uses. It is well designed and reliable option for any buyer.
Buying a floor jack can be unusually challenging, but we hope this article pointed you towards the tool you needed.
Featured Image: Fobosvobos, shutterstock
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!