Any wrencher, from DIY to professional, knows that safety is paramount when working on a car. Service or repair, there’s a good chance you need that car lifted, and there’s a good chance you’ll use a car jack and jack stand to do it, unless you’re a professional and have access to a two or four-post lift.
Factors to Consider When Choosing How to Lift Your Car
- Your budget: If you’re a home mechanic, you might have less wiggle room than a professional mechanic purchasing for their business.
- The types of projects you’ll be tackling in the future: Will you be performing simple maintenance such as oil changes? What parts of the car will you need access to?
- The amount of working room and/or underbody access: Do you frequently find yourself wishing you had more room under your car or more accessibility to the exhaust, the underside of the bumper, etc.?
Jack Stands are the Affordable Option for the Home Mechanic
Readily available at just about any auto store, a pair of jack stands generally runs under a hundred bucks, making them a popular choice. Another advantage is their size; the typical jack stand design is compact, so they’re easy to store in a corner of the garage or your trunk until you need them.
Reliable When Used Correctly
When in good working order and when used according to manufacturer instructions, they’re a safe, reliable way to lift cars up for underbody or tire access. Failure of the jack stands themselves are pretty rare. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration keeps a close eye on any potential safety issues surrounding jacks, including, in recent years, Harbor Freight Tool recalled 1.7 million stands due to a dozen minor injuries caused by failures of one of its models due to aging production equipment.
Improper Jack Stand Use Can Lead to Damage, Injury or Death
The biggest danger posed by jack stands is, more often than not, due to improper use, which includes not positioning them on vehicle lift points, using them to support vehicles above their weight rating, or accidentally knocking them off a lift point. Excessive rocking, wrenching, or digging around can lead to jack stands slipping and bringing a 4,000 lb. or more vehicle straight down to the ground – regardless of what or who is in the way.
Wheel Cribbing Provides a Safer Lift Alternative for Oil Changes, Exhaust, and Underbody Work
Designed to provide a stable surface with consistent elevation every time, wheel cribs make contact with the tire instead of a lift point. While this limits their use to tasks that don’t involve the wheels, tires, brakes, or wheel wells, they are much safer for underbody work, including oil changes, exhaust repair or replacement, and similar projects.
Race Ramps Wheel Cribs: Top of the Line
Used by auto professionals in racing, repairs, and customs industries, Race Ramps Wheel Cribs are made in the United States and undergo rigorous quality control to ensure that each crib meets the 1,500 lb. capacity rating for vehicles up to 6,000 lbs. They are engineered of 100% solid expanded foam and are fully encased in high-traction coating; their price point reflects their high quality and American-made construction.
Wooden 2×4 Wheel Cribs: The Danger of DIY
For those looking for a wheel crib solution on a budget, the thought of building wooden wheel cribs can be alluring. Whether built as a single wood crib tower or interlocking pieces like massive Jenga, the biggest concern in using wooden wheel cribs lies in the rating. Because it’s impossible to know how much weight each beam can support and where joints might fail if overloaded, you’re placing a lot of faith in something that might change the course of your life.
No Matter What You’re Working With, Always Choose Safety First
Regardless of whether you use jack stands or wheel cribs, safety should always be your top priority. If your tools are not in good working condition, or if you’re unsure whether or not your vehicle will exceed the weight rating, stop immediately.