Having the proper car jack in an emergency situations is paramount in saving you time and money. Like other similar tools (jump starters, for example), they are an investment that pay for themselves if you ever have the misfortune of needing one. Of course, the right one for you depends on various factors, from the car you drive to your design preference.
You might think there’s a lot of technical terminology surrounding car jacks, but they’re actually quite straightforward. Firstly, there are mostly two main types of jacks: scissor and trolley. Trolley jacks look about the way that you’d expect; you slide one side of it under your vehicle, and pump it via a long handle at the other end. Scissor jacks, on the other hand, are closer to a diamond shape when opened; you pump it up incrementally until it’s at the desired height.
The lift capacity of jacks is the most important factor to look for; smaller cars usually weigh up to 2 tons, with the larger vehicles (say, a large SUV) going up to 2.5-3 tons. As such, most jacks have a capacity between 1.5 and 3 tons to accomodate a specific range of vehicles. The lift range is also important to note for the same reasons; smaller cars will typically have a lower clearance, and thus need a jack lift range that can complement them.
The rest should be quite straightforward; you just have to make sure you know the type of car jack you need based on your car(s). Once you know what you’re looking for, there’s not much separating different items in terms of their primary function.
Let’s start our review with a brief overview of the different products on our list; the eight that we have chosen have various factors that might sway your opinion from the get-go. If you already know what kind of jack you’re looking for, this table might help eliminate a few potential candidates.
|Product||Price||Weight||Lift Capacity||Lift Range|
|Arcan ALJ3T||$$$$||56 lb||3 tons||3.75 – 18.125 inches|
|Blackhawk B6350||$$$||85 lb||3.5 tons||5.5 – 22 inches|
|Arcan AL2T||$$$$||50 lb||2 tons||3.5 – 19.25 inches|
|Pro-Lift F-767||$$||30 lb||2 tons||3.5 – 14 inches|
|Torin Big Red Scissor Jack||$||7.7 lb||1.5 tons||4.125 – 15.125 inches|
|Pittsburgh Automotive Heavy Duty Floor Jack|
3.125 – 19.75 inches
|LiftMaster Hydraulic Floor Jack & Stand|
5 – 13 inches (jack)10.5 – 17 inches (stand)
|SUNCOO 3 Ton Floor Jack||$$$||71.7 lb||3 tons||2.95 – 19.6 in.|
High weight capacity
Reliable and user-friendly
|Mediocre customer service|
You can’t go wrong with the Arcan model; it offers everything in a convenient and slick package. As the name suggests, it can handle a respectable 3 tons, but still retains user-friendly and convenient features.
The Full Package
The ALJ3T car jack is well and truly the complete package. It is constructed from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum, making it one of the lighter choices in our list. On top of that, it boasts a variety of helpful features, reinforced with dual pump pistons that ensures a quick lift of the saddle. It’s also focused on safety, with a rubber handle for a non-slip grip and a rubber saddle surface to make sure you don’t damage your vehicle. In addition, it has bypass and overload valves; simply put, it won’t allow you to overextend or lift more than your jack can handle. All of this is underlined by the fact that it complies with industry safety standards. All in all, this jack is a worthy investment for people with any range of expertise.
Stable and Sturdy
This car jack wouldn’t be the editor’s choice if it wasn’t sturdy and reliable; many buyers noted that it may well be the only jack they’d need for the rest of their lives. The jack works smoothly—it’s easy to lift thanks to the dual pistons and just as easy to bring down softly. There’s pretty much nothing this jack can’t do with ease, and equally limited things it does poorly. The only prevalent complaints that customers had were aimed at Arcan’s customer service and the jack’s potential for oil leakage. Otherwise, this product is a quality investment.
|Poor lift range|
The Blackhawk is an alternative to the Arcan in the sense that it offers 3.5 tons of lifting capacity. In every sense of the word, this product is a hefty tool; the only real deviation from the fact is its reasonable price.
Fast Lift, Safe Work
Like the Arcan, this car jack offers fast lift technology to get it to the desired position in no-time. One striking difference between this jack and the Arcan is the lifting range; its starting and peak positions are both higher than its competitor. This is to be expected, as it is designed for work on larger vehicles. The higher the load, the riskier the lift, so it’s certainly comforting to see that this car jack also boasts safety features. It is locked when not in use by way of a release valve, and is secured with a built-in safety valve and vent plug for safe operation. On top of that, like the Arcan, it has a bypass device that prevents overpumping and overextension.
Of the limited complaints, buyers were unhappy with the instructions and equally surprised at its weight. If you’re planning on carrying this around routinely, it might not be the one for you, despite its impressive functionality.
Lighter than its counterpart
High lift range
|Pricey for a 2-ton capacity|
The Arcan ALJ line of products is solid, and the 2-ton version is no different. While the 3-ton product is our car jack of choice, the 2T model certainly can compete. While it’s suited to lighter loads, it is perhaps more versatile in other areas than the 3T.
Flexible and User-Friendly
Don’t let the fact that this product is only suitable for up to 2 tons scare you away; most mid-size cars and sedans are well under that mark. If you don’t own a larger vehicle, you should certainly consider this item; it is a bit lighter than the ALJ3T and offers the same safety features. In fact, just about everything in terms of design is the same; one notable difference is that the 3T is bulkier in comparison. The benefit of the 2T model, however, is the increased range of lift; it can go over an inch higher than the 3T and only requires 3.5 inches of minimum lift. All in all, if you don’t have the heaviest vehicles, this is a great product to consider.
|Lift range not great|
This product comes in as a far more affordable alternative to the big players we’ve looked at so far. Despite the fact, it can reliably hold 2 tons of weight and has a few safety features to ensure smooth operation.
A Bit of Everything
The Pro-Lift floor jack isn’t the flashiest; however, for its price, it offers a great deal of utility. As we said, it is good for up to 2 tons, a range that captures most personal vehicles (up to the larger mid-size models). Its heavy-duty steel construction offers longevity and sturdiness, while the bypass device and built-in safety valve protects it from overpumping and overload. As for the lifting range, it’s pretty limited—at just a 14 inch maximum height, it requires a bit more care to operate. It’s a lot lighter than the other items, though, making it a great option for those constantly carrying their car jack around. In summary, this item more than justifies its price point, but falls short to the more notable car jacks.
Meets safety standards
|Questionable durability and longevity|
Only 1.5 ton capacity
At an even more affordable price, the Torin scissor jack is one for the casual user who isn’t afraid to put a bit of work in. While scissor jacks are usually seen as more tricky options, this item puts that to the test.
Lightweight and Convenient
This car jack weighs a measly 7.7 pounds, which is almost 4 times lighter than the previous model. Impressively, the heavy-duty construction allows it to lift up to 1.5 tons; while this isn’t much compared to the others in this list, it’s still both noteworthy and perfect for smaller cars (a typical compact car is around the 1.5 ton mark). To add to this, it meets ASME safety standards and comes with a limited 1 year warranty.
Overall, if you’re on a tight budget, be sure to check if this scissor jack is for you. It is well constructed and offers a great deal of value for investment. However, as is the case with cheaper products, there’s always the question of longevity. Particularly, a few users noted that the screw hole was shoddily manufactured.
|Durable steel construction|
Sturdy and good investment
Great capacity and range
|Some user complaints about oil leaks|
For something as heavy-duty as this Pittsburgh Automotive model, it certainly surprises with its low profile. While not always necessary, its low minimum height (over 2 inches lower than the Blackhawk, for comparison) gives it the extra versatility that might come in handy.
Safe and Sound
Buyers echoed the general notion that this product is totally trustworthy and solid. Despite its low profile, it lifts very high and with minimum effort from the user, making it a worthy appearance on our list. The fact that it is made of steel adds to this fact, but is the reason it is one of the heavier entries. However, aluminum (or other softer metals) jacks might not be desirable for those aiming for longevity and sturdiness. In terms of durability, this car jack shoots straight towards the top. Its price point is a steal as well; while it’s not a “premium” product, it’s certainly better than its price might suggest at first glance.
|Comes as a set with stand|
Easy to use
|Questionable durability and longevity|
Tricky lift range
For most of these car jacks, it’s recommended to have a stand to accompany them for safe work; in fact, it is pretty much imperative that you have one on hand. Thus, the fact that the LiftMaster model comes with a stand makes it a one-stop-shop for your needs.
On top of its utility as a set, this product is surprisingly affordable. It does its job fairly well, and covers a range of cars and their clearances. However, you might notice that its lowest point is 5 inches, which is a bit contradictory to its relatively low weight capacity. Either way, it’s a useful kit to have for autowork. If you don’t know much about repair work or the necessary parts, this might be a good starter car jack due to its price. However, be prepared to deal with some minor issues with longevity, particularly with the stands—if you’re looking to do some extensive work, it might be best to opt for some other choices.
|Durable materials and finish|
Very low profile
Great lift range 3 ton capacity
|Several grating complaints of unworking item|
Construction quality leaves wanting
While the SUNCOO model is a great product with the durability to back up its mid-range price, there is one glaring issue that a small portion of customers faced. On paper, it’s everything you need in a sturdy car jack, so where does it go wrong?
To say the metal is sturdy would be an understatement; it’s reinforced with thick steel plates and accompanied with a smooth industrial-grade finish. On top of that, the handle is long enough to make the lifting process smooth and easy. Its extremely low profile allows it to lift even sports cars; it has perhaps the most enticing lift range of all products.
Simply put, several buyers were very disappointed with this product. In fact, a few were outraged because of one glaring issue: the construction isn’t as sound as the materials themselves. One instance describes how the lowering of the car can often be sudden and dangerous rather than smooth and easy. On the other hand, some peoples’ pins came apart, causing the entire jack to collapse. Despite its frankly phenomenal design, this jack might be best avoided to be safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What happens if I lift above my car jack’s weight capacity?
A: For brand new jacks, there’s a good chance your tool will be able to lift slightly more than the specified limit; typically this is a safe limit to prevent any potential incidents. However, we DO NOT recommend trying this; a potentially fatal accident is not something you want to risk.
Q: Do I need a jack stand?
A: Regardless of the quality of your car jack, you should always work with jack stands securing your car in place. Like the previous question, it’s better to be safe than risk an accident. Even the most expensive jacks can fail for any reason—it’s best to have assurance in the form of a stand. Make sure, of course, to get stands that have a compatible capacity.
Q: Can I lift my car higher than the maximum lift height of the jack?
A: Yes, but you need to be careful—DO NOT try to set up padding of some sort by yourself unless you really know what you’re doing. The best option is to try to find jack pads that are made for the floor jack you own for maximum security.
Conclusion — Buyer’s Guide
As we’ve seen, there are different kinds of car jacks, whether it be in weight capacity or lift range, and each one is more-or-less tailored towards specific kinds of vehicles. If you’re looking for something simple for a typical smaller car, you can’t really go wrong with Pro-Lift and Torin models; they’re both fairly affordable and are different enough to make the choice between them straightforward.
For quality car jacks that offer a range of applicability, be sure to take a look at the Pittsburgh Automotive, SUNCOO, or LiftMaster models; these are middle-of-the-road options that cover a lot of bases and are great for beginners. However, they are also slightly more controversial than our other choices amongst buyers.
As for the heavy duty-specific options, there’s the Blackhawk. It’s a solid choice that won’t set you back too much budget-wise and will last you a long time. Similarly, the Arcan ALJ line of car jacks is certain to be the best choice overall, whether you’re looking for the more heavy-duty approach with the 3-ton model or the more lightweight 2-ton version. If you’re not afraid to spend a little extra for premium quality, these two are sure to meet your needs.