Best Bottle Jacks

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
267 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bottle jacks

Last Updated October 2019

Bottle jacks are one of the most common types of jacks. They come in a wide variety of capacities and can be used for everything from lifting a car to change a tire to straightening a door jamb to leveling a house. Some are air hydraulic, while others use a type of oil to drive the piston.

Unless they are driven by an air compressor, bottle jacks have a pump on the side with a long handle for manual pumping. When the release valve is closed you can pump the handle to raise the piston. When the release valve is opened slowly, the piston will go down. If you’re getting a bottle jack to replace the jack in the trunk of your car, a 2 to 4-ton jack will be all you’ll need. If you’re a mechanic working in a shop, you’ll need something bigger.

If this all sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. Keep reading our buying guide and we’ll walk you through the types of bottle jacks and their uses.

Richard Dudgeon is credited with taking out the first patent on a hydraulic jack on July 8, 1851. All hydraulic jacks since then, including bottle jacks, are variations of his original design.

Key considerations

Weight capacity

The capacity of bottle jacks is always given in tons. There are 2,000 pounds in a ton. Since many items are measured in pounds, you will need to know the equivalence. For example, if you need a bottle jack for a 40,000-pound dump truck, 40,000 divided by 2,000 equals 20 tons, so you will need a 20-ton bottle jack to lift that truck.

If you’re leveling a pier-and-beam house, you’ll need to get under the house with up to four bottle jacks for a small house, or more for a larger one. Since the weight of the house will be divided by all the bottle jacks, 12-ton jacks should be sufficient for most houses.

Air or pump

The two types of bottle jacks are powered either by an air compressor or with a manual pump.

Air hydraulic bottle jacks require an air compressor in order to work. These kinds of jacks are normally found in mechanic shops where they are used on a daily or hourly basis. If you have a heavy-duty air compressor, feel free to get an air-driven jack. They are typically easier to use than a pump jack.

Pump bottle jacks are more common for residential use. Most bottle jacks use hydraulics with a special oil in them and have to be manually pumped to raise the piston. They come with a long handle that is usually divided into two pieces. Connect the pieces together, place the jack under the object you’re going to lift, insert the handle into the pump, and start pumping.

Finding a level surface

Bottle jacks have a comparatively small top (called the saddle) to support their load. This makes it crucial that they are solidly positioned so they won’t tip over when you start lifting something with them. If you’re in a garage, there is probably a flat, concrete floor — an ideal location. A driveway, assuming it’s level, is also a good place to use a bottle jack.

If you’re lifting a house, you’re going to have to get up close and personal with dirt. The beneath the house could be anything from soft sand to ordinary dirt to hard clay. If the clay dried in any shape other than perfectly flat, you could spend a miserable number of hours on your stomach in a confined area chopping at the ground trying to level it prior to putting the jack in place. If the ground is sand or loam, you’ll need to lay some two-by-fours or some other support for the jack to sit on and stay upright.

Regardless of the composition of the ground under the house, it’s almost never level, which means you’ll have to do some prep work before you even put the bottle jack in place.

Features

Material

Bottle jacks have to lift and hold several tons, which requires them to be extremely strong. Forged steel is the main material used in the construction of these jacks. This, in turn, makes them heavy. Some bottle jacks have a carrying handle to make it easier to transport them. Iron and aluminum bottle jacks are also common but typically have lower weight capacities.

Horizontal work

Bottle jacks are the tool of choice when it comes to straightening a door jamb or metal bars that have been bent or damaged by a heavy impact. In most cases, a 4-ton jack is the strongest jack you will need for these tasks.

Color

Traditionally, bottle jacks are red, but black, yellow, and gray are also common colors.

Lift Range

Most bottle jack ranges have a lift range of 5 to 9 inches, but their heights will vary. When you are comparing models, take note of their starting height and maximum height, as this will play a major factor in what jobs you can use the jack for.

EXPERT TIP

When you’re using a bottle jack in a horizontal position, make sure the pump is below the reservoir. This will prevent the fluid from leaking into the piston reservoir, which will cause a loss of pressure.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

When lifting a car with a bottle jack, keep the car in park if it’s automatic transmission and in first gear if it’s standard transmission. Also, make sure the parking brake is fully engaged.


Staff  | BestReviews

Essential accessories

Though bottle jacks are versatile and powerful tools, it can help to have a few accessories at hand to help you get the job done quicker.

Once you’ve got an object lifted and you want to leave it in the air for a long time, put some Torin jack stands in place of the bottle jack so you can use it for something else. With a 6-ton capacity, these jacks work for most cars, and they come in a pair for a reasonable price.

You should always block the wheels on a vehicle when you’re raising it. Use these MaxxHaul wheel chocks to keep the wheels from moving while you’re working on the vehicle. They are made of lightweight rubber, making them a good option in a variety of conditions, and they are unlikely to slip.

Bottle jack prices

The low-priced bottle jacks cost between $15 and $25. These are small jacks in the 2- to 6-ton range. Despite the low price, these jacks are usually well constructed by necessity.

From $25 to $100 are bottle jacks that can lift up to 20 tons. They may also come with a floor stand for added stability during use.

For $100 and above are high-capacity jacks for large vehicles, buildings, and other structures. These jacks are often air hydraulic jacks that require an air compressor.

DID YOU KNOW?

Early bottle jacks used whiskey instead of water to prevent freezing during the winter, so they became known as whiskey jacks. Later, hydraulic oil was used and the name was changed to bottle jacks.

Tips

Using a bottle jack properly and safely requires careful planning and caution. Here are the basics to get started:

  • Place the jack on a flat, smooth surface before you use it. Never use a bottle jack on a slanted or sloped surface.

  • Turn the piston ram counter-clockwise to raise the saddle to the desired height.

  • Ensure the release valve is closed, and then insert the pump handle into the shaft of the pump.

  • Slowly pump the handle up and down until the saddle rises high enough to make contact with the object you’re raising.

  • Once the saddle is firmly planted, continue pumping the handle until the object has been raised to the desired height.

  • Remove the handle from the pump shaft.

Other products we considered

If our top picks didn’t meet your needs, we have a few other recommendations. We like the Pro-Lift Grey Hydraulic Bottle Jack for its 20-ton capacity, which makes it ideal for farm and shop work. The extension screw adjusts to fit your needs and it has a lifting range of 6 1/2 to 11 inches. This 12-pound jack includes a carrying handle and a detachable pump handle and meets the latest ANSI/PALD standards. We also like the Omega Pro-Lift Grey Hydraulic Bottle Jack. It has a 6-ton capacity with a lifting range of 8 5/8 to 17 1/8 inches. This will lift most work trucks and small to mid-size tractors. It has a solid base and a side pump with a built-in bypass mechanism. The extension screw extends 3 1/2 inches for additional range.

Due to their small size, bottle jacks are often used in rescue operations when someone has become trapped in an enclosed area.

FAQ

Q. Can air get into the jack’s fluid reservoir?

A. It’s possible for this to happen over time. This is especially true if the jack’s seals aren’t tight or have become worn or warped. When that happens, the jack will feel spongy when you use it or it will gradually lower itself.

Q. How can I get rid of the air in the fluid reservoir?

A. Without anything on it, raise the piston all the way up then release the pressure valve and let the jack lower itself. Turn the jack on its side and open the filler plug (see your manual for the location on your jack). You should hear a hiss of escaping air. Put the filler plug back in and repeat the process until you no longer hear any hissing.

Q. How do I put more hydraulic fluid in the reservoir?

A. Consult the owner’s manual for your bottle jack to locate the filler plug. Make sure the pressure valve has been opened to allow all the pressure out of the jack. Turn the jack on its side and remove the filler plug. Add hydraulic fluid to the reservoir according to the directions in the owner’s manual, being careful to avoid overfilling it. When you are done, replace the filler plug.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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