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How to Use a Car Jack

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Lifting your vehicle up with the aid of the tire jack is not an easy job, especially if you are not familiar with what to do. It’s also a job that requires a lot of care.  However, there are some simple tips on how to use a car jack that you can follow to make the process safer for you and your vehicle. 

Know Your Tire Jack

Most vehicles today come with a small scissor jack that is perfectly fine for changing a flat tire – as long as you know how to use it. Make sure you read your car’s manual on how to use the jack before attempting to change a tire. In fact, it is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with your car’s jack before an emergency situation pops up.

If you are not confident in your ability to use a car jack and your car is broken down on the side of the road, we highly recommend that you contact an emergency roadside assistance provider to assist you.

Using a Tire Jack in 3 Simple Steps

Once you are familiar with your particular jack, and you feel confident in your ability to change the tire yourself, the following steps can help you learn how to use a car jack.

Step One: Ensure the Car is Secure and in Gear

When changing a tire, you first need to make sure that the car is on a level surface and that the emergency brake is firmly set. If your car is an automatic, ensure the gear shift is in the parked position. If you have a manual transmission, make sure it is in gear, not in the neutral position. Next, turn on your hazards, then exit the vehicle on the side furthest away from traffic.

Next, use wedge blocks, bricks, metal wheel chocks, or even large rocks to further prevent the wheels from rolling. These should be placed behind the tires at the opposite end of the car from the end that is to be raised. 

Step Two: Setting the Jack in the Proper Spot

When I was a young teen, I was under the common misconception that the jack could be set anywhere under car. Luckily, I soon was taught that is not true. You have to remember that jacks are not designed to withstand the entire weight of the car. The stress from the weight could cause the jack to slip or even break.

Therefore, the jack must always be placed beneath the frame of the vehicle. Most cars now have an indention in the frame specifically for the jack. If you are not sure about where on your vehicle’s frame to set the jack in order to avoid damage, check the car’s manual.

Additionally, make sure the tire jack is on an even and a reliable (strong) surface area. Don’t set it in the grass, gravel or on any other surface that gives.

If you have one, place a small cut of 2×6” wood beneath the jack before attempting to raise your vehicle. This can help prevent the jack from settling under the weight of your vehicle and coming off-balance.

Step Three: Lift the vehicle by using the jack.

Once your are positive that the car is stable and the jack is set in the proper place, use the jack to lift the vehicle.

If you have a scissor jack, you insert the rod or wrench over the knob, and then begin turning it to crank the car up.

If you have a hydraulic jack, place the handle into the appropriate location and pump up and down using nice, even strokes.

Slowly raise the vehicle until the flat tire is about six inches above the ground. Make sure you never put any part of your body under the vehicle during or after raising the vehicle with the jack

Once you have changed the tire, bring the vehicle down the same way, slowly and carefully. 

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