Most commonly used whenever there is a flat tire, a car jack is probably the most used tool for a lot of people, even if it is every few years. Learn how to use a car jack safely.
• There are many types of jacks, but the most common is the scissor jack which comes with the vehicle. This will usually be in the trunk secured under the spare wheel with a screw. That’s the first place to check, and if it is not there then you should check the owner’s manual to see where the darn thing is!
• Many people think that the stock jack is fine for the occasional changing of the tire situation but there are also many that think of them flaky at best. As long as you find a nice level surface with no roll either will do, although for extra safety go with a hydraulic trolley jack – these take up a lot more space but they are easier to use too. They work through the use of a lever that “pumps” up the vehicle in effect, with a safety release valve typically operated with a screwdriver once it’s been used. Under no circumstances should you work under your car without a jack stand additionally supporting the vehicle – this is especially true if you are using a bog standard manufacturers jack stands
• Make sure you know how to work the jack before starting. It’s clockwise on a scissor jack to raise the car and anti-clockwise to lower it. Instructions are typically on the side of the jack so have a look.
• Make sure that the stands and car are on a flat surface. Ensure that the handbrake is on and that the car is either in reverse or first gear. Additionally use wheel chocks for extra safety and peace of mind.
• In the mid-section of the vehicle there should be jack points near to the front and rear wheels. Look for an indent on the bodywork under the car to see where it should go. Typically there will be a reinforced lip that is specially designed for supporting the weight of the car that runs along each side. If you are unsure, check the owner’s manual (yes, again!) since every vehicle is different. Place the cup of the jack under the lip and turn the scissor jack clockwise/ pump the lever of your trolley jack to start to raise up the car.
• After a few turns you should be able to tell if the vehicle is gripped correctly. Give the side of the car a gently nudge to see if it is secured. If it is, then continue lifting, otherwise lower and repeat the last step.
• Once you have got the vehicle to the required height then be sure to place a jack stand under the vehicle. If you are just changing the tire then this is not an absolute necessity but if you are going to be working under the car it’s a MUST DO. It’s not enought to know how to use a car jack safely – cars can and do slip, so be safe.
• Remove the stands and lower the vehicle once done, and store your jack in the trunk for another few years!