Safe Use of Your Car Jack
Every new passenger vehicle sold today comes with a jack for use when lifting is required, usually to change a tire or mechanical repairs. We all know how a jack works but do we all know how to use a jack safely?
Between 1989 & 1992, twenty seven Australians lost their lives from vehicles falling off jacks and ramps that were suppose to be supporting them. Interestingly, while 20 of the victims were home users, 7 were killed while in a place of work, where safe procedures should be known & practiced.
Why did this happen? In the cases where the cause was identifiable, it was discovered the users had:
- Failed to apply the hand break on the vehicle.
- Failed to leave the vehicle in gear.
- Not used chocks on the other wheels.
- Incorrectly used the jack.
- Used an inappropriate jack for the job.
- Attempted to jack the vehicle on sloping or uneven ground.
By disregarding these simple procedures the unfortunate victims paid with their lives.
Always read the instructions that come with your jack & follow them to the letter.
- It is a very bad idea to stand in the road while using your jack, however some times it is unavoidable. If you must do this be sure to light your workspace as much as possible so on coming traffic can see you. Flares & reflectors are best for this if available. Try to have someone standing beside you facing the traffic & routing it clear if needed.
- Always work on a flat, solid surface. Most jacks do not function safely on uneven or soft surfaces. Air jacks like Selson are the exception to this rule. Its broad base & internal telescopic arm allow the jack to follow the lifting arc of the vehicle on all surfaces & gentle slopes.
- Be sure no one remains in the vehicle. The smallest shake can unsettle the jack. Remove any heavy loads from inside the vehicle.
- Apply the handbrake and leave your vehicle in gear.
- Use chocks on the non-raised wheels.
- Never place any part of your body under the vehicle.
- Never raise the vehicle any higher than necessary.
- Always keep an eye on the jack to see if it is holding steady. If it looks to be slipping or moving in any way, get away from the vehicle.
Are all jacks equal?
Most cars come with a pentagram or scissor jack. These are adequate for lift about 1 / 3rd of the weight of the vehicle. As you are only lifting one corner, this is acceptable. In a garage or workshop situation bottle or hydraulic jacks are common. The later in particular can lift heavier weights than scissor jacks and are considered safer. A more recent addition to the collection is the Selson air jack. Selson air jacks are a unique design that uses compressed air to raise and lower motor vehicles quickly and easily. Their safety, reliability and speed make Selson air jacks ideal for underbody servicing, wheel alignment, tire replacement services and body repair work.