Crawling under a car supported only by a floor jack is one of the most reckless things anyone can do. This is asking for the worst to happen eventually. Why roll the dice with your life? Also, why put yourself in harm’s way when buying a robust pair of jack stands is so affordable?
If you plan to work under your car, and you don’t own jack stands, I urge you to wait until you buy some. I understand that waiting isn’t something people appreciate. So, I’d like to remove all the guesswork out of the process and give you all the information you need to make an informed buying decision. So, you can buy the best jack stand for your requirement with minimal effort and time.
Today’s market is full of brands, re-brands, and off-brands. The jack stand is no exception. Filtering products systematically requires a lot of reading, comparing, and analyzing. While some people enjoy the process, others care more about the results. That’s why we’ve divided the article into two parts.
In the first part, you can read all about our picks for the top five jack stands of 2018. This is for people who want to jump directly to the heart of the issue. For those who are interested in the process, I’ve outlined the framework you can use to do your own research. Each section contains a lot of tips and information, so I highly recommend reading them both. So, let’s get started with the best jack stands of 2018, shall we?
|MODEL||PRODUCT DIMENSIONS||ITEM WEIGHT||USER RATING||PRICE|
|Torin T43004 Aluminum||30.7 x 10.6 x 7.9 inches||10.2 pounds||4.7/5||$$
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|Omega 32066 Magic Lift||17.5 x 11.8 x 13.5 inches||34 pounds||4.5/5||$$$
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|Torin T43002A 3 Ton||8.3 x 7.5 x 14.2 inches||15 pounds||4.5/5||$
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|Hein-Werner HW93506||13 x 10.5 x 16.3 inches||42 pounds||4.2/5||$$$$
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The T43004 stands out for two reasons. First, its flat-base design beats the conventional four-stand in stability and footprint. The jack stand extends from 10.75 inches to 15.625 inches. The jack’s low profile allows you to insert it with minimal lifting. For instance, the Hein-Werner HW93506 has a lift range of 16.25 inches to 25.75 inches. You can’t position that stand without lifting your car at least 16.25 inches. That’s a lot of pumping.
The second reason the T43004 stands out is its pin-through-hole mechanism. I prefer this arrangement to the ratchet design for safety reasons. The disadvantage of the pin-through-hole design, however, is limited adjustability. This jack has only five height settings.
Aluminum is a rust-proof metal that is lighter than cast iron and steel. It is also the weakest of the three. If you need a jack stand for your car, this would do. But, if you need a jack stand to support an SUV or a truck, I recommend a heavy-duty cast iron or steel jack stand.
What I don’t like about this product and jack stands in general, is that they do not mention whether the tonnage is per pair or per unit. Can a single T43004 carry 3 tons? I don’t know, and there’s no way to tell. Erring on the side of caution, I assume the rating is for a pair.
Other than ambiguity regarding capacity, I’d say this is the best jack stand on the market. However, if you’re not interested in a low-profile jack stand, there are more economical options – specifically, the Torin T43002A.
Among 6-ton capacity jack stands, the Hein-Werner HW93506 shines for its durable construction and stable base. Its wide base, which is made of cold-rolled steel, has folded metal footing. This prevents wobbling and reduces damage to the floor. The welds along all joints are clean and complete, with minimal porosity.
Rated at 6-tons per pair, the HW93506 supports any vehicle from compact cars to large SUVs. The ratchet style height adjustment rod offers stop-points at frequent intervals, allowing easy, quick, and fine adjustment.
If I had an opportunity to improve this model, I would include a double-lock mechanism. I love the convenience of the ratchet design, and I love the safety of the pin-through-hole design. A double-lock system grants the best of both worlds. For the premium price Hein-Werner charges, this could have been included.
Is it worth the price? If it weren’t for the 2-year limited warranty, I would have said no. Unlike many other products, which can fail because of abuse or normal wear, jack stands fail mostly because of manufacturing and material defects. So, a 2-year limited warranty is a sign of this product’s quality and reliability. In summary, this is a product for those who prize quality and durability over economy.
The innovation that engineers bring to a machine as simple as a jack stand never ceases to surprise me. Case in point, the Omega 32066 6-ton (per pair) self-raising jack stand. It’s not hard to guess what this jack stand does. By disengaging the lever, a spring mechanism automatically raises the ratchet arm to the desired height. Once you release the floor jack, the ratchet arm locks itself into position.
But, would I buy this jack stand just because of the self-raising feature? No. For me, a jack stand is only as good as its durability. Fortunately, its robust welded steel construction measures up. It has a smaller base than the Hein-Werner HW93506, but the base is still large enough to provide sturdy support. The welds fuse the joints perfectly, raising no concerns of structural failures.
Now, let’s talk about the self-raising ratchet. As I’ve said before, a jack stand is a simple machine. Introducing complexity reduces reliability. Yes, the self-raising arm reduces effort and time to set up the jack stand. But, I have never heard anyone complain about how long it takes to position a jack stand. If a feature makes something hard easy, it’s worth the money. That’s not the case here.
But, given its price, this is a more economical alternative to the Hein-Werner HW93506 even if it only comes with a year’s warranty.
If your vehicle is under 5000 pounds, the Torin T43002A is the best jack stand for the money. It’s made of high-grade steel and constructed to meet high standards and durability. The rated capacity for a pair of these jack stands is 3 tons. This is adequate for most cars, but not for SUVs or trucks.
What’s great about this product is that it comes with the double-lock feature. This means that after adjusting the height of the ratchet arm, you can add an extra layer of security by inserting the push-through pin. Once you have the double-lock in place, that ratchet arm is going nowhere.
The next thing I love is this jack stand’s support range. You can extend the jack from a minimum height of 11.25 inches to a maximum height of 16.75 inches. The range is comparable with our top pick’s range. Plus, you get more stop points in between. However, this jack stand doesn’t extend as far as the Hein-Werner HW93506 and Omega 32066 do. This is a problem if you have large vehicles.
Perhaps, the T43002A’s most exciting offering is its price. It costs only half as much as the T43004. Overall, this product balances price to performance beautifully and is the product of choice for the rated tonnage.
You’re under a 6000-pound vehicle. The only things keeping the weight from crushing you are the jack stands. For this simple reason, safety and reliability trump every other consideration. But, reliability is not a one-point measure. Several factors combine to make a jack stand reliable. In this section, we’ll explore all those factors. Let’s begin with the first, and the most obvious, factor – tonnage.
Tonnage represents the weight a jack stand can support safely. For example, a 2-ton jack stand can support 4000 pounds across all height settings from minimum to maximum. Your choice of tonnage depends on the weight of the vehicle you own. Check the manual to identify your vehicle’s curb-weight. If the weight is listed in pounds, divide it by 2000 to get the weight in tons. Once you know how many tons your vehicle weighs, add a 25 percent margin to get the tonnage of the jack stand you need.
Also, many manufacturers rate the capacity for a pair of jack stands. For example, the Torin T43002A has a capacity of 3 tons when used as a pair. Individually, the jack stands can’t take that much load.
All jack stand manufacturers list the minimum height and the maximum height for their products. But, you need to figure out your personal requirements to get the right range for you.
So, first establish the required height. To do this, measure how high you must lift your vehicle to slide under it safely and comfortably. This height marks your required height. Ideally, your jack stand’s height must be a couple of inches more than your required height. Whenever possible, use the jack stand at 80 percent of its maximum height. Next, look at the minimum height. The minimum height impacts the minimum lift required to insert the jack. Practically, this value is relevant only when you’re shopping for a low-profile jack.
For example, you can insert the Torin T43004, a low-profile jack stand, by lifting your vehicle by a mere 10.75 inches. The downside is that you can get a maximum height of only 15.625 inches. On the other hand, the Hein-Werner HW93506 has a minimum height of 16.25 inches. This means you must lift the vehicle by at least 16.25 inches every time to use the jack stand. But, you get an awesome maximum height of 25.75 inches.
If you’re okay working with a 12-inch lift, a low-profile jack helps save time. Other than that, there’s no additional benefit of having a low minimum height. Now, I’ve seen people using all sorts of different things from wooden blocks to concrete bricks to prop their jack stands. I do not advise this because the engineers who designed them did not account for this. So, the jack stand may fail. Always use the tool as instructed in the product’s manual…and by common sense.
In summary, eliminate all jack stands that have a maximum height less than your required height. Give special priority to jack stands that exceed your required height by a couple of inches. After this, we’ll look at the variety of height adjustment mechanisms on jack stands.
The two most common types of jack stands are ratchet jack stands and pin-through-hole jack stands. The ratchet arm has several teeth cut into it at regular intervals. When you disengage the lever, the ratchet arm moves freely. When you engage the lever, it locks the teeth and prevents any movement.
Pin-through-hole jack stands work differently. The height adjustment bar on such jack stands have a series of diametrically opposite holes placed at regular intervals along the bar’s length. To adjust the height, you must align the right hole with the holes on the base of the jack stand and insert a pin to lock the bar in place.
A ratchet jack stand is easier and faster to adjust. However, you can’t get a visual on the engagement. However, a pin-through-hole jack stand leaves no margin for error because you get a visual on the engagement system. Therefore, pin-through-hole jack stands are safer than ratchet jack stands. The trade off is the time required to get everything set up.
Now, there is a hybrid type of jack stands. These jack stands resemble ratchet jack stands. But, they have a pin that you can insert to secure the ratchet arm. This feature, called a double-lock system, gives you both safety and convenience.
In the order of safety, ratchet jack stands with double-lock come first, pin-through-hole jack stands come next, and ratchet jack stands come last. Since safety is the most important aspect of jack stands, this is the order in which you should prioritize your choices.
In addition to tonnage, maximum height, minimum height, and type of jack stands, here are some more factors that can help you make an informed decision:
If you go through the process I have described above, it will take some time and effort to identify the right jack stand for you. So, to give you a head start, we’ve created our list of the best jack stands of 2018 for your consideration. You can choose a product from this list, or do your own research. If you want to explore more possibilities, I suggest you look at the range of jack stands from Torin, Camco, and Craftsmen.
Usually, price is the main factor of any purchase decision. In this case, safety overshadows economy and even convenience. That’s why I recommend that you buy the Torin T43004 3-ton jack stand. It has a robust aluminum body, a pin-through-hole design, and an extremely stable base. It does fall short on maximum height, however.
If you’re looking for a machine with greater maximum height, I suggest you skip from the 3-ton range to the 6-ton range. In the 6-ton range, the Hein-Werner HW93506 is an excellent choice. The Omega 32066 is a more economical alternative, but the HW93506 is strong, sturdy, and stable.
However, most of the options above are expensive relative to the budget-friendly Torin T43002A. It’s a 3-ton ratchet jack stand with the double-lock feature. In the low-cost segment, nothing beats this product.
So, it’s a matter of matching the product to your budget, requirements, and preferences. All the products in our list of the best jack stands of 2018 are excellent for the category of buyers it serves. If you put some thought into what you need, I am sure you will find it here.
Recent developments, such as outsourcing manufacturing overseas, have flooded the market with many jack stand options. To stand out, a lot of companies are really upping the quality of their output. Right now, you have more options than ever before.
But, there’s a downside. Finding the right one when there are so many options is difficult. Hopefully, we have helped you figure out which set of jack stands is best for you.