Bottle Jack vs Floor Jack: Which is Right for You?

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bottle jack vs floor jack which is right for you

Image credit: Nerijp, Wikimedia

If you are a do-it-yourself mechanic, you know that you have to have an excellent jack to hold your car up while you are working on it. There is a debate over which is better, bottle jacks or floor jacks. We are going to tell you about each one and let you decide which is best for your needs.

Bottle Jack

A bottle jack is a hydraulic jack that has its hydraulic cylinder mounted vertically on the base. It is compact, easy to take with you, and doesn’t take much room to store. Due to its size, these jacks don’t cost as much as floor jacks do.

Bottle jacks can lift even the heaviest of vehicles, and it can lift them higher. They are too tall to fit underneath a standard height car, but they’re great for trucks or farming equipment since they sit up higher. They also have small lifting pads, so they’re simpler to use in tight places.

These jacks take more effort to set up and take down. You will have to get on your hands and knees to place the jack under an appropriate spot of the frame.

These jacks can tip much more easily than floor jacks. When a vehicle is lifted, it moves, and the jack doesn’t. There is nothing that allows the jack to rock a little along with the car. Instead, if the vehicle moves too much, the jack will simply tip over, and the car will fall.

bottle jack

Image credit: Denzel-llc, Wikimedia

Pros
  • Hydraulic cylinder is mounted vertically
  • Compact
  • Lifts heavier vehicles
  • Lifts higher
  • Small lifting pad
  • More economical
Cons
  • Higher minimum height
  • Can tip easily
  • More complex to use

Floor Jack

A floor jack is also a hydraulic jack, but the cylinder is mounted horizontally, allowing this jack to have a much lower profile than a bottle jack. These jacks fit under most standard size vehicles. If you have low-riders, some floor jacks have an even lower profile to fit under them. They can’t lift as high as bottle jacks can, though, due to their starting out so much lower to the ground.

These jacks are quick and easy to use. They have casters that make moving them around effortless. The two front wheels are locked to only go forward and backward. The back wheels pivot, allowing you the forward and backward action, as well as side-to-side. This makes getting into position to lift your vehicle much faster and more efficient.

A floor jack has a more extended handle that allows quick and painless lifting. It also has a large lifting pad to give you better support under a more substantial part of the vehicle’s frame.

These jacks are large and very heavy, so they aren’t ones that you will be transporting to other places. Due to their size, they cost more initially than bottle jacks and take up more storage space in your garage.

 

floor jack

Image credit: Masum321, Wikimedia

Pros
  • Hydraulic cylinder is mounted horizontally
  • Low-profile
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Easy positioning
  • Large lifting pad
Cons
  • Larger
  • Can’t lift as high
  • Cost more

Conclusion

Both bottle jacks and floor jacks are excellent hydraulic jacks to handle your heavy lifting for you. They should not be used as the only support holding the vehicle up, though. These jacks can lose their air pressure and drop without any notice. We recommend that you always use axle stands to support the bulk of the weight after you get the car in the air.

A bottle jack’s hydraulic cylinder is vertical, making it tall. It won’t fit under your standard car height, so it is best for use under larger, higher vehicles, like trucks and farming equipment. These jacks are small and very transportable to any location, and don’t take much space to store.

Floor jacks have horizontally placed hydraulic tanks that allow them to have a much lower profile than bottle jacks do. They will fit under most cars, but can’t lift as high as the bottle jacks. They are heavy but effortless to move around on the four casters. They are easy to place under your vehicle, and take much less time to jack up, due to the long handles. Floor jacks are also large and take up quite a bit of space to store.

What are your needs? If you are working mainly on big trucks or farming equipment, you will probably prefer the bottle jack, since it can lift the highest of the two jacks. However, if you work mostly on cars, you will be better off with a floor jack that is low enough to fit underneath them.

Hopefully, we have done an excellent job of explaining the differences between these two jacks for you. Now, you just have to decide which one will meet your needs the best and get shopping.

About the Author Adam Harris

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!