Pneumatic floor jacks give home auto enthusiasts the ultimate versatility to easily and safely work on any car they choose. Also known as trolley jacks because their four wheels make them a breeze to move, floor jacks can fit under low-riding sports cars or lift high-riding personal trucks.
The best floor jacks are simple to maneuver and operate. Our top pick, the Arcan Aluminum Floor Jack - 3 Ton Capacity, is rugged, reliable and perfect for all of your home auto needs. Whether you’re restoring an old car or keeping tabs on a new one, here’s how to find the perfect floor jack for you.
The maximum load capacity is the amount of weight your floor jack can safely lift. Attempting to lift a car beyond this limit is dangerous. Most jacks will have a relief valve to prevent you from accidentally or intentionally going over.
Floor jacks come in 2-ton, 3-ton and 3.5-ton capacities. A 2-ton jack should be enough to lift most compact cars. Trucks, SUVs and other large vehicles will require a 3-ton or 3.5-ton model. Search the Internet for the curb weight of your vehicle if you’re unsure.
Your floor jack needs to be able to fit under your car and raise it to a height that’s safe but still easy to work on. That’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Most sports cars are low to the ground and will require a shorter jack to fit underneath.
If you’re working on a larger vehicle with big wheels, you’ll need to raise it higher than the 16-20 inches required for most other cars. Minimum and maximum heights vary between manufacturers, so be sure to check specifics before buying.
Floor jacks wheels are heavy and support tons of weight. They should use metal. For maximum stability, took for a floor jack with as much space between the wheels as possible. If the wheels are too close together, the jack will be unsteady. If buying in store, try moving the jack around to see how easily it rolls.
Don’t forget about the wheels of your vehicle either. When working on your car, make sure to put tire wedges on the front or back wheels as needed to not move or roll away.
Floor jacks use steel, aluminum or a combination of the two. Higher capacity heavy duty jacks will be made entirely out of steel. Even if you’re only planning to work on a smaller vehicle, you may want the piece of mind that a 100% steel floor jack brings.
The downside to steel floor jacks is their weight. One of the best models we tested, the steel Banner Fast Lift Service Jack - 3.5 Ton Capacity, weighs 85 pounds. The top overall pick, the Arcan Aluminum Floor Jack - 3 Ton Capacity, weighs 58 pounds. That’s a vast difference.
Heavier steel jacks are a pain to schlep around. If you plan to use your floor jack in multiple locations, an aluminum model might be more convenient. This is especially a consideration for racing enthusiasts.
Also, look for models where the handle breaks down into smaller or shorter parts. Handles can be quite long, and if they have to be stored fully extended, they can be awkward or cause a tripping hazard.
Look for a floor jack with two pneumatic cylinders, so you have to use less muscle and less energy every time you raise and lower your car. If you’re only going up and down once a weekend, this is less of a concern. If you’re spending long hours working on multiple vehicles, a jack that only takes a few pumps to reach your desired height will become your best friend.
Keep an eye out for models with padded handles. This will also make the pumping process easier on your body.
There are cheap floor jacks available for around $50 at most retailers. We do not recommend buying these. They are challenging to use and often fall apart. If you want a floor jack, it’s important to invest in a quality model. You can find great options for $150-$275.
A. You can if you’re just changing a tire. Scissor jacks only lift your vehicle a few inches off the ground, enough to get a tire in and out. They require a lot of muscle and are not designed for working on the rest of your car or for an extended length of time. For DIY home auto repair, it’s essential to buy a floor jack.
A. The answer will be different for every car, so check your manual to be sure. Jack points will typically be just behind the front wheels or just ahead of the rear wheels. The saddle is the part of your floor jack that touches your car. The bigger the saddle, the easier it will be to position correctly.
What you need to know: This is a durable jack with high capacity that also happens to be lightweight.
What you’ll love: It’s simple to transport, with smooth wheels and a padded arm. It fits easily under low cars.
What you should consider: It’s pricier than most other models on the market.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This is a budget option that offers an impressive lift range with the assurance of a quality brand name.
What you’ll love: It’s compact but still has a maximum lift height of 18 inches. Perfect for smaller cars.
What you should consider: It is heavy considering its compact size and has a 2-ton limit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The is the best choice for bigger or heavier vehicles.
What you’ll love: It is all steel construction, it has a great weight capacity and a maximum lift height of 20.5 inches.
What you should consider: It is very heavy and some users report issues with the lift arm malfunctioning.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.