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Types of car jacks

Updated April 17, 2017

Most drivers who have dealt with a flat tire probably have an unwanted, but necessary, working knowledge of an automotive jack. There are several types of jacks that can lift small cars to tractor trailers. These are the easiest tools to use when a vehicle must be lifted for minor repairs, a tire or oil change. An automotive jack is a basic necessity for a car owner or a professional automotive garage mechanic.

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Scissor jacks

Scissor automotive jacks are hand-operated, using long, self-locking jack screws to raise the vehicle. Although these jacks are simply designed, they are considered so sturdy and dependable that car manufacturers often include them with new cars, according to Floor Automotive Jacks.

The centrally located jack screw raises and lowers the scissor-shaped jack using either a tire iron or a specially designed tool. These jacks vary in size and weight-bearing capabilities, so care should be taken when purchasing one.

Hydraulic bottle jacks

This type of automotive jack uses hydraulics to provide enough pressure to lift a vehicle weighing up to several tons. Most hydraulic jacks have a cylinder, top, base, plunger and pump filled with oil. Using the plunger builds oil pressure, which is controlled by valves, and performs the lifting and lowering actions. These jacks are rated according to how much weight they can safely lift without failing. Olive-Drab reports lower end hydraulic jacks can lift up to 3 tons without problem.

Trolley jacks

A trolley jack is any type of wheeled hydraulic floor jack that can be moved easily. Depending on the size and weight of a vehicle, standard trolley jacks can lift weights ranging from 2 to 4 tons. While some models feature manual braking controls, others have brakes that lock automatically when the jack is being used. Unlike other jacks that may slip or disengage unless on a firm surface, a trolley jack can be safely used on gravel or dirt and will lift the vehicle higher. Always make sure to purchase the right jack for the type of vehicle it will be used to lift.

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About the Author

Sue McCarty

Sue McCarty, a writer and copy editor since 1994, penned a newspaper humor column for several years. She assisted in her husband's motorcycle shop for 20 years and was also a professional gardener and caterer. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in communications, McCarty began her journalism career at a Pennsylvania daily newspaper.

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