Best Jack Stands
Jack stands are a safety tool to be used whenever one is working under a car or other vehicle. While jacks are used to lift the weight, they really aren’t designed to hold weight up and sometimes will sink into the ground, especially if it is soft or unstable. Hydraulic jacks, which are generally considered the best for heavy lifting, can gradually bleed their hydraulic fluid allowing the weight they are holding to settle downwards. Working under a car or truck with only a jack sustaining it is dangerous and foolish.
In the past, jack stands were usually made of a round tube, with a smaller tube to hold the head. Holes between the two tubes were aligned and a pin slid through them to adjust the height of the head. Some larger jack stands had a threaded top for adjustments, allowing fine tuning of the overall height. Today’s jack stands use a ratchet design, which is much easier to work with than aligning the holes for the pin to go through.
Some people aren’t as comfortable with the ratchet design, thinking that it could slip. I’ve never seen any indication that one could actually slip, but I can understand their concern. In response, some manufacturers have created models which have a safety pin that is installed after the jack stand is set, to ensure the ratchet teeth can’t slip.
Another concern with jack stands is the ground that they are used on. These are designed for use on a solid surface, such as the concrete floor of a garage. The weight of a vehicle could be enough to cause them to sink into soft ground. To deal with this problem, some models are designed to have a solid base plate. The plate spreads the weight over a larger area, reducing the risk of sinking.
While commercially manufactured base plates are metal, you can accomplish the same thing with a piece of plywood. From experience I can say that there isn’t much a 3/4 inch thick piece of plywood won’t support. Of course, you could always use a regular jack stand and add your own base plate.
Jack stands are always sold in pairs, so that you can use one on each side of the vehicle. Their weight rating is based on the assumption that they will be used together. For safety sake, that rating is for each stand, so a pair will actually support twice that weight. While manufacturers build some safety margin into that rating, always make sure that you are using jack stands which will hold much more than the weight that you need to support. Remember, the front of a car is about 65 percent of its weight.
Always be extra careful with the placement of your jack stands, ensuring they’re making good contact with structural points under the car and that the car can’t slip off of them. The wheels that are in contact with the ground must be chocked to ensure that the car can’t roll.
Torin T43002A Double Locking 3 Ton Jack Stands
Powerbuilt 640912 All-In-One 3-Ton Bottle Jack with Jack Stand
Torin T43006 3 Ton Jack Stands
Dynamo 2 Ton Short Tripod Stand
Torin T41202 12 Ton Jack Stands
Torin is one of the best jack stand manufacturers out there, with an extensive line of different products. For extra security, these are double locking jack stands with the first lock being the ratchet mechanism and they also have a pin to ensure the stands can’t slip; either one will hold the jack stand in place, should the other fail. Be sure to buy the model with the “A” suffix, as that is the designation for the pin. There’s also a combined carry handle and ratchet release.
The range of these stands is 11.2 to 16.5 inches and while enough for working on a car, you might want to look at their taller stands for a pickup truck or SUV. Torin makes the same jack stand in a 6 ton model, for those who have heavy-duty vehicles.
This is a great idea that Powerbuilt (also known by the name “Alltrade”) came up with. This model combines a three ton hydraulic bottle jack with its own jack stand. The height of the sliding upper portion of the stand can be run up to the bottom of the vehicle and locked with a pin. The hydraulic jack is then used to lift the vehicle higher, with a ratchet and pawl to lock it in place and keep it from dropping due to oil leaks. A very unique unit, it’s perfect for SUVs with a range of 11 to 21 inches. This product is sold as single units, not in pairs.
Typical jack stands don’t work all that well for SUVs and pickup trucks, due to the greater height of these vehicles. Realizing this, Torin has built a set of jack stands specifically targeting SUVs. These three ton jack stands have a range of 14 to 20.68 inches, making them much more appropriate for use with these vehicles and their higher ground clearance. This enables you to lift the vehicle, without having to balance the jack stand on a couple of blocks of wood; a much safer situation. These jack stands come with a double locking pawl, but not the additional locking pin that we talked about with the Torin 3 Ton Double Locking Jack Stands that are my number one pick.
These stands from Dynamo Tools are actually designed for use in conjunction with a vehicle lift. While most of us don’t have one of those available, I’ve seen some guys that had some pretty ingenious ways of lifting vehicles in their home garages. The range on these stands is from 30 to 53 inches, putting them in a whole other league than the typical jack stand. They are also useful in conjunction with a pit for holding transmissions and engines when mounts have to be removed. If you’re jury rigging some sort of lift, you need jack stands even more than the guy that’s using a jack.
For those that have larger vehicles, such as motorhomes, this pair of stands from Torin is ideal. They will hold as much as 12 tons of weight, considerably more than the average jack stand. Like the SUV jack stands we’ve looked at, these come with the double locking pawl for safety. Even if one tooth of the pawl slips, the other one will catch the load. They also have a higher range than the average stand, going from 18-1/4 all the way up to 28 inches. Having pulled a motor from a motorhome, I can tell you that the extra height is a necessity.
Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.
While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.
In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.