Jack Stands vs Ramps: Which Should You Choose?

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If you like to perform the regular maintenance of your car yourself, you’ll need something to lift the car at some point. There’s a debate among do-it-yourselfers as to which is the better tool to use, jack stands or ramps. Here, we will compare the two to help you decide which one might be best in your circumstances.

Jack Stands

a jack stand

Image credit: Torin on Amazon

Jack stands are compact and easy to use in small places. They don’t require you to move your car at all when lifting. You place the jack under the specified lift points on the frame of your car, then jack it up. They are a little more time-consuming to use than ramps, because you have to get under the vehicle to make sure they’re positioned correctly. You can’t just drive onto them like you do ramps, but if you’re tight on space, jack stands are best for you.

They also give you greater flexibility in what you can do. You can’t change or rotate tires when your car is on ramps, because the vehicle’s weight is still 100% on the wheels. If you’re going to do anything that includes removing a wheel, you’ll need to have jack stands available.

Pros
  • Great in small places
  • Greater flexibility
Cons
  • Time-consuming
  • Must use specific lift points

Ramps

a car ramp

Image credit: RhinoGear on Amazon

Ramps are popular with do-it-yourself mechanics because they’re so simple to use and are a good option when it comes to safety. It is nearly impossible to misuse ramps. They are slightly wider than your vehicle’s tires are, and you drive up onto them. Due to the more substantial amount of contact with your car, they offer excellent stability and are considered to be extremely safe. They also usually cost less than jack stands.

There are some negatives to everything in life, and the same is true for ramps. They need to be used on a flat, hard surface to be trustworthy. If you try using them on a wet surface, or loose gravel, they may slide when you’re driving your car onto them. They also don’t work well on uneven ground. They don’t get the support they need and can buckle under the weight of your vehicle.

Another downside is that you need plenty of space to use ramps. Jack stands are placed under vehicles and lifted; the car doesn’t need to move. That isn’t true for ramps. They require that you have room to pull up onto the ramps, and space to back off them.

If you have a car that sits low to the ground, you may not be able to use ramps without scraping the bottom on the lip of the ramp. If you have low vehicles, you’ll either need to use jack stands or spend a little more to get extra-low profile ramps.

Pros
  • Simple to use
  • Safe
  • Very hard to use incorrectly
  • Cost less
Cons
  • Can slide
  • Can fail if used on uneven ground
  • Need space to use them
  • Some cars are too low to use them

Conclusion

Which is better for you to use, jack stands or ramps? That all depends on the task you’re performing. If you’re doing a quick oil change, you may prefer ramps because they are faster and easier to use than jack stands. On the other hand, if you’re changing or rotating your tires, you will need jack stands; ramps won’t work.

What it boils down to is the job you’re doing. Both jack stands and ramps are good alternatives in different circumstances. That’s why you will see both in the garages of many mechanics.

We also have a buyer’s guide covering our favorite floor jacks. Click here to see it

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!