3 Common Types of Car Jack for Automotive Use

Understanding the Different Types of Car Jacks

A car jack is used to lift your vehicle when you need to work on the underhood or when changing a wheel, an integral part of the automotive industry. It is essential to have the right type of car jack for the work you are performing for the safety of both the vehicle and the mechanic.

When using a jack to lift up a vehicle, ensure that you use more than one jack or jack stands for your safety. There are several types of jacks, but we shall discuss the 3 Common types of jacks every automotive user and mechanic should have.

You may have several Jacks in your auto mechanic arsenal, but these three types of jacks, in a body, can swap others in terms of convenience, stability, and portability.

Among the three types of jacks described here, it is tough to declare any to be the best. The best jack for automotive use is relative, as it mostly depends on your budget and intended use. So far, the mentioned benefits involve you having them in any of the following jacks.

Having said that, jacks may differ in profile, lift range, and weight capacity. That’s where a thorough inspection of the most talked about three is a call for any auto mechanic or car owner.

Scissor Jacks

A scissor jack is one of the oldest styles and simplest among the different types of car jacks. It is a powerful jack that is operated using a screw in the horizontal position. The screw shortens or lengthens the horizontal diagonal of a parallelogram, which consists of the linkages of the jack. One great thing about scissor jacks is that they are compact and fold awesomely. They are lightweight and easy to carry around. Scissor jacks are easy to use, and maintenance is next to none.

A scissor jack has two base ends and four main metal pieces. The metal pieces are connected using bolts on the corners, allowing the corners to swivel. The jack is operated simply by turning the crank injected into one of the scissors jacks. The screw turns when the crank turns, causing the jack to rise. This screw works similarly to a gear mechanism. The screw thread has teeth that turn the two arms to produce work. The scissor jack can lift a car with thousands of pounds by just turning the crew thread.

Pros of Scissor Jacks

  • Compact for easy storage and transport
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Very simple to operate
  • Short enough for fitting under vehicles

Cons of Scissor Jacks

  • Slower compared to hydraulic jacks
  • It can cause finger-pitching
  • The base is narrower, thus less stability

Trolley Jacks

A trolley jack is also known as a floor jack or service jack. It is a lifting device or a hydraulic jack mounted on wheels for easy movement. It also features a long handle, which is used as a pump handle. This handle can be pulled in any direction the user desires. It enables you to lift your vehicle when working on brake assemblies, changing tires, or doing anything else under the vehicle.

This type of jack can lift weights varying from 2 tons to 4 tons depending on the weight and size of the vehicle. Some trolley jack models have manual braking system controls while others have brake systems that lock automatically when the jack is in use.

Trolley jacks can be used safely, even on dirt and gravel grounds. Other mechanical jack types need to be on a firm surface to prevent disengaging and slipping, but trolley jacks can be used anywhere. It is, therefore, a quicker, more stable, and safer option for professional mechanics. The wheels allow the user to roll the jack to any of their desired position. You should have basic ideas on how to use a floor jack for an easy and secure process.

Before you put it in position, ensure that the lever is turned to the right using the handle end. Later insert the handle and pump it until the cradle gets to the jacking point. When you finish using the jack, remove the handle and twist the lever a little in the anti-clockwise direction.  Carry out this process steadily and carefully so as to lower the vehicle slowly.  The trolley jack aims to lift the vehicle with minimum effort.

Pros of Trolley Jacks

  • Quick and easy to move
  • It can fit and be used underneath most cars
  • Longer handles enable faster operation and quick lifting
  • Reduced slipping risk due to the large jack saddle
  • More stability due to elongated base
  • Easy to use

Cons of Trolley Jacks

  • More expensive
  • Requires more space

Bottle Jacks

Just like the name suggests, bottle jacks have a shape and appearance that resembles a bottle. It is a hydraulic jack with a vertical mounting. These jacks have a pressure pump and handle mounted on the side. They can list vehicles weighing between 3 tons and 20 tons. There are a variety of bottle jacks with different features. Some of them have an incorporated stand, and others do not.

Bottle jacks are equipped with one piston, which is aligned vertically, known as the bottle.  The hand plunger on the side pumps oil into the bottle, resulting from the exchange of pressure. The pressure exchange leads to vertical movements of the bearing pad.  Some high-end and higher-capacity bottle jacks are operated mechanically, not manually.

Bottle jacks can list heavier cars to higher elevations due to their straightforward design. This jack is a perfect choice for truck owners since it can easily be stored in a cab compartment, and clearance will not be a challenge.  Bottle jacks are portable and thus can easily be carried to the scene in case of emergency.

Pros of Bottle Jacks

  • Can lift high-capacity vehicles
  • Ideals for tall vehicles like trucks and SUVs
  • Easy to store
  • Portable and easy to carry around
  • Have smaller footprints

Cons of Bottle Jacks

  • It May take longer to lift due to the shorter handles
  • The stationary footprint may increase the risk of slipping

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What Type of Car Jack Stands Do I Need?

The type of jack you buy will depend on the weight and size of your vehicle. It would be prudent to buy a jack stand that can handle twice the weight of your vehicle. If your vehicle of 4000 pounds, then the jack stands should be able to hold a minimum of 8000 pounds. A jack stand should be of high quality. Consider jack stands from renowned manufacturers that have passed the test of time.

What Are The Different Types of Car Jacks?

There are two basic types of jacks, which are hydraulic and mechanical jacks. Under the two are several other types of jack stands with different features, advantages, and disadvantages. The most common types of jacks include scissor jacks, floor jacks, motorcycle jacks, trolley jacks, strand jacks, hi-lift jacks, pneumatic jacks, and bottle jacks, among others. The different types of jacks have different ratings. The best jack to buy depends entirely on the type of your vehicle.